Wednesday, February 06, 2008

The Three Trillion Dollar Man

#356 The Three Trillion Dollar Man

Three trillion dollars! The mind cannot grasp a figure this large. It's like death. When you say the guy next door got killed when his wife put a bullet through his head, you can understand that. After all, you knew old Yashi, and he probably deserved to go. You saw the patrol cars pull up, lights blazing red and blue and ultra-white. You heard the bus drive up, siren screaming. You saw them take a gurney out of the front door. Yashi. Gone.

When you say 50 people were killed in a suicide bombing attack in Iraq, it gets a little iffy. You might see video footage, although it's such a common event these days it hardly gets noticed. You might envision the scene. You might grasp it.

When you say 3,000 people died when a plane hit an office building, your imagination freezes. No matter how many times you see the video, no matter how many times you visit ground zero, no matter what, your mind turns the thing into an abstraction.

So when you say three trillion dollars, no matter how many analogies you pull out of the air, the internet or your hat, you have no idea, and neither does anyone else.

The President of the United States the other day, proposed spending three trillion dollars on stuff. But much of it was the wrong stuff.

First, a question. If the defense budget has to be as high as it's proposed, where does the money go? It's not into the paychecks of the soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen and women. Not even to the Pentagon Colonels, of which there are enough to staff the entire army of Belize. It doesn't go for certified body armor. It doesn't go for mine-resistant Humvees. It doesn't go for first rate medical care either in the field or on the way home. So where DOES it go?

Yashi was already a corpse when they hauled him off in the police bus. But he got better care as a dead man than most of the war wounded get as mostly-living human beings.

So, let me get this straight. We manufacture a war and send over young men and women, whom we pay poorly, treat poorly and sometimes send to live on the street when they get home. And then we cut Medicare and Medicaid funding, so the old and the poor pay for what little care goes to the returning troops, but not to the old or the poor.

So this is a middle-age, middle class budget. Handy, since the middle aged and the middle class require far less government help than the young or the old or the rich or the poor.

And then are what the Associated Press called this president's "Signature tax cuts." (See Wessay #54, 3/4/06.) Signature indeed. A humongous giveback to people who largely don't need it.

The prez says the budget proposal's so high because of the economic stimulus plan. But that's about $150 million. A drop in the three trillion dollar bucket.

And then, adding insult to poverty, he says he won't allow the usual print run of 3,000 copies of his plan, and he posts it on the internet. Saves money, saves trees.

Yashi is turning over in his grave.

I'm Wes Richards. My opinions are my own, but you're welcome to them.

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