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Two Questions

Posted by Rick · January 19th, 2004 · No Comments

I’ve said more than once that there are two important questions American voters should be asking themselves going into this election year.

This article discusses those questions.

The two questions are these:

  1. Are you better off since George Bush became President?
  2. Is our country better off since George Bush became President?

Most middle class people will find an honest answer to the first question reveals they are unchanged…for now. People who were suffering economically before are worse off now. And the longer the current administration’s policies are allowed to go unchecked, the higher up the chain from poorer-to-richer the suffering will move.

Let’s clear something else up, too. This isn’t happening because the rich hate the poor. This isn’t happening because George Bush is a bad person or because he hates Americans. We don’t have to say any of that — it’s most likely not even true. It’s happening because someone has to pay for the things that are happening. Someone has to foot the bill for the war in Iraq. Someone has to pay Halliburton the billions of dollars it will get under recent contracts to do work in Iraq. Someone has to give up something in order to allow for increased profits.

It is not necessary to say that Republicans are bad people. It is not necessary to say the President is a bad person.

All that’s necessary is to recognize the implications of the policies that are being followed. Once we do that, we may wish to say — I believe right-thinking people will wish to say — that these policies need to be changed. Again, not because we hate the Republicans or because they hate us; not because Republicans are bad people. Simply put, these policies inevitably lead to suffering.


The answer to that question on some issues should be obvious. Whether we like it or not, a war costs money. There are people to pay, people to feed, bullets, bombs, missiles, airplanes, tanks, ships and fuel for those things. These aren’t free. How many soldier’s are involved? Assume it was only 5000 (even after recent cutbacks, it’s way more than that) and assume they were all being paid minimum wage (most get more than that, especially officers). The normal minimum wage is more than five dollars per hour. In some states, it’s up to more than seven dollars per hour. But let’s assume five dollars and let’s also pretend that the soldiers are only being paid for eight hours each day.

Eight hours a day at five dollars an hour is $40 per day. Multiply that times 5000 soldiers and that’s $200,000 per day. Peanuts, right? Median household income for Americans in 2002 was $42,409. So if one such household devoted every penny of its income for an entire year to support just 5000 soldiers in Iraq, that household could pay for about one-fourth of a day. To pay to have these soldiers in Iraq for a full day would take the entire income of this single household for more than four years! Forget your own food, your own clothes, your own house or apartment. Your entire family income for more than four years could support 5000 soldiers in Iraq for one day.

And, of course, that’s just their wages. This doesn’t include feeding them. It doesn’t include giving them guns or clothes. It doesn’t include bullets. It certainly doesn’t include getting them there! This is just to pay them all minimum wage for eight hours a day.

None of these things are free. Someone has to pay for them. And it’s not Halliburton. It’s not Bechtel. It’s not Worldcom. It’s your taxes.

In fact, not only is Halliburton not paying for this war, but we are paying Halliburton. They just won new contracts for billions of dollars over the next couple of years. Where will that money come from? You.

Find yourself a piece of paper. Figure out how long it would take you to pay Halliburton. Go ahead and divide the bill evenly among the approximately 130 million taxpayers if you wish, but just remember that this is only one bill from the war. And remember that in reality, it’s not divided evenly among all taxpayers. Then don’t forget that there’s still Bechtel and Worldcom and a host of others. And, of course, we only calculated one day, minimum wage, 5000 soldiers. Hopefully, you start to get the picture.

And this is only the economic costs. Forget what the rest of the world is saying about us — both the friendly and the unfriendly countries. Forget whether or not this actually brings us “more terrorism” or “less terrorism.” For answering these two questions, those might be important to consider, also. But go ahead, ignore those parts for now.

Just ask, from a financial perspective only: Are you better off today than before Bush took office? Is the country better off today than before Bush took office?

Categories: Politics-In-General


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