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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/6521/meanwhile-you-are-being-forced-to-pay-to-kill/

Meanwhile, you are being forced to pay to kill

April 16, 2007 by

From Portfolio.com:

No matter how you view them, the numbers inspire shock and awe. According to the Con­gressional Research Service, the combined cost of the Iraq war (Operation Iraqi Freedom, in Pentagon jargon) and its companions, Oper­ation Enduring Freedom, in Afghan­istan, and the Global War on Terror, could eas­ily top $600 billion this year. Staggering as that number is, ­Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz and Harvard economist Linda Bilmes calculated that the real cost exceeds $2 trillion. The annual congressional appropriations for the wars—­averaging $127 billion—are bigger than the global markets for soap, heroin, or gambling. Monthly spending for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan averaged $6.8 billion last year, according to the Department of Defense’s comptroller. That ­figure is now closer to $8 billion a month.

At that rate of burn, General Electric’s value would be wiped out in three and a half years, Bill Gates’ personal fortune would evaporate in just seven months, and the troubled Ford Motor Co. would cease to exist in a matter of weeks. If you think of the wars as a giant impulse buy using an unlimited credit card, then paying it off would require coming up with enough cash to match the G.D.P. of three Irelands or about 11 Kuwaits or the Netherlands—but only if you throw in Sri Lanka. Or if you think of the wars in terms of a country that produces nothing but has to buy about $127 billion worth of goods and services per year to sustain itself, that country would have a lot of eager customers and the second-largest trade deficit in the world. (The U.S. would still be a comfortable first.) … Before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, then Secretary of State Colin Powell famously warned President Bush that if you break it, you buy it. Powell was only partly correct. At last count, we’ve bought the equivalent of 10 Iraqs and will apparently buy at least a few more before we’re done.

{ 3 comments }

Peter S. April 17, 2007 at 6:37 am

The USA is able to do what it is doing because nations such as China are happy to send back their US dollars to the USA. By allowing the US to do what it is doing, the Chinese in return are allowing the US to become even more unpopular abroad, it is allowing the US to gut its manufacturing industry and it is allowing the citizenry of the US to become addicted to consumerism whilst become perpetually indebted. Maybe Washington has a plan. Hopefully it DOES have a plan because it would be both sad and dangerous for this world to function at the mercy of the Chinese and Russian systems.

W Baker April 17, 2007 at 9:01 am

Jeff,

Give Dubya a little credit here. For years he played in the ‘minor leagues’ of running personal businesses into the ground (Arbusto Oil, Houston Rangers, etc.), and no one thought he could step up to the big league and replicate that kind of ‘success’. But we’ve all underestimated this little Texas bellowing, Connecticut Yankee. He’s actually pulling it off.

Who says the “American Dream” has lost its magic. Where else in the world could such a feat be pulled off?

Brad April 17, 2007 at 2:06 pm

It will all work out in the end as goods are piped into the US at reduced costs, keeping the economy humming along nicely. The domestic transfer schemes, at least in the short term, are being paid for with a hyperstimulated economy. The economy will be aided with a net “gain” on these activities, net of war-costs.

What happens when the over-extended ponzi schemes reach the territories beyond which even these “subtle” warrings can pay for? Who knows. Either an economic disintegration or war in terms of “we’ve see nothin’ yet”.

And the best part is these realities will begin to hit just as I become less able to produce as effectively as I do now. Good times ahead.

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