Collapsing Bridges vs. War in Iraq
Editor’s Note: The tragedy in Minnesota, as a collapsed bridge sent motorists to their deaths, is another reminder about the hidden costs of the $1 trillion Iraq War, reminiscent of how the federal government's neglect of the levees contributed to the hurricane devastation of New Orleans two years ago.
In this guest essay, Stephen Crockett of DemocraticTalkRadio.com argues that the Bush administration's spending priorities -- including an estimated $1 trillion for an unnecessary war -- will cost the lives not only of U.S. soldiers and Iraqi civilians but American citizens who will die from a decaying infrastructure and other government neglect:
The kind of money being spent by the Bush Republicans can result in saved or lost lives.
We all can see the results in the case of Iraq. Launching his optional war against Saddam Hussein, in the way he did, Bush has directly cost the lives of thousands of American soldiers and maybe a hundred thousand mostly innocent Iraqi civilians. We have failed as a nation to come to terms with the massive costs that are less direct and obvious but just as real.
The Iraq War we did not really have to fight will certainly cost the American taxpayers over a trillion dollars and maybe much more. The number is so large that few citizens truly understand the number. The best way to get a handle on a trillion dollars is first to imagine a stack of a million one dollar bills. A trillion dollars is a million stacks with a million ones in each stack.
Most estimates of the financial resources needed to repair the key infrastructures of the American economy are in the range of one to two trillion dollars. Both the Iraq War and the infrastructure cost needs may be higher than estimated at this time.
The infrastructure needs are mostly repairs to bridges, roads, railroads, harbors and public utilities. The cost of the Iraq War would have largely met these essential needs.
Spending the money here would have saved American jobs and prevented inevitable future deaths resulting from the inevitable future failures of key infrastructure components. The horror we just witnessed with the collapse of the interstate bridge in Minnesota will become much more common because of the waste of taxpayer money in Iraq.
The tax cuts for the Super Wealthy that the Republicans pushed into law during the earliest months of the Bush Administration have been more damaging to the financial ability of the federal government than even the Iraq War. These tax cuts were even less needed than was the invasion and occupation of Iraq. While middle class tax cuts were justified, tax cuts for those making millions of dollars per year were not!
The government debt, created by these tax cuts, is going to cost taxpayers trillions of dollars in future interest payments. Government services will be cut. As a result, public needs will not be met. Republican ideology and Republican greed has trumped serving the public good!
The government revenues lost as a result of tax cuts for the Super Wealthy would have largely paid for universal, single-payer health care. The United States is the only developed nation in the world to deny their citizens this kind of health care. Germany has been providing this kind of government guaranteed health care for over 120 years.
Literally millions of Americans have died earlier than they should have as a result of Republicans blocking health care reform. We could have guaranteed universal health care as far back as President Truman. Republicans have always falsely stated that guaranteed universal health care was just not financially possible.
If we could afford trillions of dollars for unwise wars and tax cuts for Super Wealthy individuals who do not need them, we can afford to both rebuild our economic infrastructure and guarantee our citizens universal access to decent health care! Our choices in public spending should save and improve the lives of our citizens instead of killing them.
Stephen Crockett is co-host of Democratic Talk Radio, http://www.DemocraticTalkRadio.com. His e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org.
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