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

The material I post on this blog represents my views and mine alone. The material you post on this blog represents your views and yours alone.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Seven years of failure in Iraq, and still counting

Almost unnoticed, the war in Iraq has just entered year number eight. Anti-war demonstrators gathered in front of the courthouse on Third Street to mark this anniversary of dark failure. Many in this group have been demonstrating since before the March 19, 2003, invasion of Iraq.

To them, I say thank you for your dedication, your commitment. It’s a tragedy that the truth of your vision and clear reason was not recognized and acted on seven years ago.

Seven long and costly years. You may recall the rush to war in March 2003. One of the stated reasons given for this unseemly haste to embrace tragic consequences was a stated concern for our troops. It was frequently mentioned by leaders of this scramble into war that to delay war would mean our operations might stretch all the way into the hot weather of summer 2003.

Weather is often a factor in the conduct of wars. We missed this forecast big time.

What do we celebrate after seven years of war? “Victory” has not been realized, not even defined. “Mission Accomplished” is a standard phrase for failure among political satirists. The present conditions in Iraq, after hundreds of billions of dollars and two elections, remain forlorn and combustible.

I wonder if the water and electricity in Baghdad are on yet.

Given the bleak present and the pall hanging over the future, we’re left with the shreds of the past to sift through. But who has the stomach for another post-mortem on the harum-scarum search for WMDs? Should we revisit the war plans that resulted in a deadly shower of IEDs instead of Cheney’s promised candy and flowers? Can we bear to look again at the human toll, 4,300 brave Americans and 100,000 Iraqis dead? And the crippled in body and mind beyond count.

One of the most recent fallen heroes in the Iraq-Afghanistan wars came from Hungry Horse, Montana. He was 12 years old when the Iraq war began. Did you know any 12-year-olds back in 2003? Do you know any today?

The Tribune-Star

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Second Stimulus Needed to Make Smith's "Invisible Hand" Visible

Enthusiasts who turn their religions, spiritual or secular, into cults, often find it necessary to cleanse their founding fathers of ideas that do not fit current conditions. So we have market fundamentalists today sweating hard over the idea that the magic market will pull us out of the Bush Depression. Sorry, it’s not to be. Only some form of Keynesian stimulus will do this in a timely manner. Without a second stimulus, and it needs to be a big stimulus, one directed at big and much needed infrastructure projects, we will dwaddle along for a decade, living with misery that could be averted.

Many will suffer needlessly because ideologues grabbed the ear of noodle-spined pols and naive, “give-me-the-easy-answer” citizens.

One of the founding saints of the religion of the magic market was Adam Smith. But don’t look for who this great thinker really was in the way his thoughts and views are twisted and distorted by his followers today.

Here's Andrew B. Busch on some ignored truths about Adam Smith:

“[Adam] Smith never used the phrase ‘laissez-faire’. His association with the idea was an invention in the 19th century and was widely promoted by modern economists from the mid-1950s. About this time Smith was also widely promoted as the author of the notion of there being “an invisible hand” in the market. Both inventions are false.

“There were hundreds of miles of inter-city roads in need of construction and repair; scores of harbours that needed to be built and dredged; thousands of bridges in need of construction; hundreds of towns that need to be paved and have street lighting in place; thousands of ‘little school’ constructed and staffed with state-registered teachers; scores of palliative care hospitals established for those afflicted with ‘loathsome diseases’; scores of depots for stamping clothes with government quality marks; a network of post-offices established and organised; and likewise for all the other activities that Smith envisaged should be funded and managed by the state.”

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