Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The $3 Trillion Dollar War — Stiglitz & Bilmes Were Too Modest

One of the greatest uncounted US losses in our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan has been the mental damage to the young people who have been exposed to the violence and brutality of our war. The recent Wikileaks release of the young people killing Iraqis as if they were playing video games is a case in point.

The number of suicides offers additional evidence.

Maze, Rick. 2010. “18 Vets Kill Themselves Every Day.” Army Times (23 April).

Also, consider the frequent reports of domestic violence and homicides.

The number of troops who have been deployed to Iraq over the last 7 years must have been somewhere around 1 million. Since May 2003, the US has had less than 130,000 in only four months.

Economists like to think of human capital — a stupid expression for the creative capacity of people — as the key to economic growth. Ignoring the economic costs of the war, as well as the consequences for the Iraqis; not even counting the physical destruction of the lives and the bodies of those soldiers who survive, these human losses for the tortured souls and for those who are hurt by them should surely be enough to say that starting such a venture should constitute a crime.


Martin Langeland said...

From your pen to the World Court's docket!

r l love said...

Anyone who really wants the USA to end its involvement in the endless conflicts needs to have a look at the following stats:

"In the face of one of the worst economic environments in memory, those in the highest income groups had nearly full employment levels, with just a 3.2 percent unemployment rate for households with over $150,000 in income and a 4 percent rate in the next-highest income group of $100,000-plus."

"The two lowest-income groups — under $12,500 and under $20,000 annually — faced unemployment rates of 30.8 percent and 19.1 percent, respectively."

"The study – published in February – notes that the poor are suffering Depression levels of unemployment"

Then, anyone who is serious about ending our economic dependence on military spending... they need to consider the 30.8% unemployment in the bottom decile and what that number might be without the aggressive military recruitment efforts. Then, that 'anyone' should contemplate just how much sense it makes to have millions of undocumented workers competing for jobs in those two lowest deciles of the job market.

Jack said...

rl, You made this comment at AB recently. I am uncertain as to what point you are making. Are you suggesting that defense spending, and the wars in the middle-east in particular, are a form of government jobs program? That is a serious question. Possibly your comment is sarcastic, but that is not obvious. In what way are you linking unemployment and poverty level jobs with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan? Are you concluding that such wars are the answer to unemployment?

r l love said...


I am suggesting that the social engineers have a choice between continuing military spending levels, or... adding to the unemployment rates of 30.8% and 19.1%. Because of course these are the two deciles of the workforce most applicable to those citizens who are currently being absorbed into the military. I am saying essentially that the USA has become a nation that depends on militarism as a dubious alternative to productive employment.

And then of course I concluded with a reference to how little sense it makes to allow millions of undocumented workers to stay in a country that has such high unemployment rates in the very part of the job market that is occupied by these immigrants. Naturally, there are those who have feigned compassion for these illegal immigrants; although... 'actual' compassion would begin with the removal of the ag subsidies so as to improve the Latin American economies.

I have known, worked with, and lived among, many of these migrant workers going back 3+ decades and I can tell you (Yankee) that many of these people are not here because they want to be. They tend to be very closely tied to their families and to their communities but their government does not receive the pressure from us, or from its own people, that would be required to improve the applicable economies, because...their being here(the migrants), has been in the best financial interest of each of the nations involved, or in the best interest of the wealthy classes of each nation at least, but I am suggesting that if that assumption of the benefits were ever in fact true, that is no longer the case. Unless of course one believes that perpetual militarism is an ideal to aspire to and to maintain at any cost, or, there is of course the option of higher unemployment in those lower two deciles.

Jack said...

Now you see, you've made a good point more clearly and I can tell you just as clearly that I do not disagree with you. I'll go so far as to say that I doubt that Coberly disagrees with your point. Yes, this nation has become too dependent on its militarism and for other than defensive purpose. i don't know that it is a choice between such an economy and higher levels of unemployment, but certainly there is little effort to redevelop this country's civilian manufacturing base as an alternative to arms production.

As I've said repeatedly in regards to the SS issue. We voters need to be far more selective and far more intelligent in our choices of congressional representation. Up to now it stinks.

TheTrucker said...

Jack said...

Lots of stuff about militarism and the like. I would like to say that the output of militarism is less than zero. It would be more economically stimulative to pay most of the people employed by the militarism to stay in barracks here in the USA. And to pay the people that work in arms production to just stay home. We would save a lot of fuel and the economy would be more robust.

juandos said...

Hmmm, so daddy what did you do in the war against islamo terrorists?

Well son, I sat on the sidelines and whined like a clueless bitch...

Jack said...

"Well son, I sat on the sidelines and whined like a clueless bitch..."
Unlike Uncle juandos who loved his Colt above all else and scoured the Earth in search of enemies to kill and even more enemies to nurture and encourage.