Reading at the Crossroads

Reading at the Crossroads is an archive for columns and letters which appeared in the Terre Haute Tribune Star. I also blog here when my patience is exhausted by what I feel is irritating, irrational and/or ironic in life. --gary daily

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Location: Terre Haute, Indiana, United States

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Friday, April 04, 2008

WAR -- The Money [Part 3]

The Money (continued from London Review of Books article)
Adam Shatz

"The US government isn’t keen on providing benefits to veterans – or, for that matter, to the families of dead soldiers. In January 2005 David Chu, under secretary of defense for personnel and readiness, told the Wall Street Journal that benefits were becoming ‘hurtful. They are taking away from the nation’s ability to defend itself.’ The US doesn’t make it easy for veterans to collect. Once they apply to the Veterans Benefits Administration, they face an intimidating amount of paperwork, the loss of their military income and an average wait of six months for their claim to be processed – from 99 days in Salt Lake City to 237 in Honolulu. (If a claim is rejected, an appeal takes two years to process.) The money that severely disabled veterans receive from the Department of Veterans Affairs and Social Security doesn’t begin to cover their care, a ‘social cost’ that someone else has to bear.

"Soldiers injured in battle have also been chased by the Pentagon for ‘payment of non-existent military debts’: Stiglitz and Bilmes [authors of The Three Trillion Dollar War: The True Cost of the Iraq Conflict) cite the case of an Army Reserve staff sergeant who, after returning from Iraq with his right leg cut off at the knee, was ‘forced to spend eighteen months disputing an erroneously recorded debt of $2231’. This vigilance is especially striking when you consider that the Pentagon recently failed its financial audit for the tenth year in a row – and that the US government isn’t even spending its own money on the war. As Stiglitz and Bilmes point out, the war has been ‘financed entirely by borrowing’, since Bush has refused to raise taxes and has actually reduced those on the rich. That money – almost a trillion dollars so far, a tenth of the national deficit – will have to be paid back with interest: ‘There are three amounts to consider: interest we have already paid on money we have already borrowed; interest we will have to pay in the future on what has already been borrowed; and interest payments on future borrowings.’"
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So we waste railroad cars full of cash on this war but we cheat, squeeze and dishonor the honorable men and women who courageously did their duty in service to a misguided policy they did not make but the president and timid Senators like Evan Bayh signed off on-- and continue to support.

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