Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Trillions Squandered

It's primary day in Texas and I have an important decision to make: stick with the 3rd candidate I have supported during the primary season or switch to my 4th. Or switch back to my 2nd choice since he is on the ballot but out of the race.

Last week txrad told me he was leaning to Obama which I interpreted as a general direction of Texas in general. He and I have had many political conversations and for him to indicate an interest in throwing his support to Obama made me wonder just how many other Texans were contemplating the same in what is perceived to be a tight race.

Polls are open and I have not reached a decision. Call me the ultimate undecided voter. It's unlikely my vote choice will be swayed by any yard signs or billboards, nor will I be influenced by any radio or TV ads, positive or negative.

What did stir up a flurry of frustration for me with Hillary was Bob Herbert's op-ed piece in today's NY Times concerning the true cost of the war in Iraq. It's nothing I didn't already know, but it is something not widely reported in the MSM.
The war in Iraq will ultimately cost U.S. taxpayers not hundreds of billions of dollars, but an astonishing $2 trillion, and perhaps more. There has been very little in the way of public conversation, even in the presidential campaigns, about the consequences of these costs, which are like a cancer inside the American economy.

On Thursday, the Joint Economic Committee, chaired by Senator Chuck Schumer, conducted a public examination of the costs of the war. The witnesses included the Nobel Prize-winning economist, Joseph Stiglitz (who believes the overall costs of the war — not just the cost to taxpayers — will reach $3 trillion), and Robert Hormats, vice chairman of Goldman Sachs International.

I constantly fantasize about squandered money under the Bush administration and the plethora of ways the money could have been better spent to improve the lives of Americans. And when it comes to the cost of this war, the amount of money is staggering.
Both men talked about large opportunities lost because of the money poured into the war. “For a fraction of the cost of this war,” said Mr. Stiglitz, “we could have put Social Security on a sound footing for the next half-century or more.”

Mr. Hormats mentioned Social Security and Medicare, saying that both could have been put “on a more sustainable basis.” And he cited the committee’s own calculations from last fall that showed that the money spent on the war each day is enough to enroll an additional 58,000 children in Head Start for a year, or make a year of college affordable for 160,000 low-income students through Pell Grants, or pay the annual salaries of nearly 11,000 additional border patrol agents or 14,000 more police officers.

My disappointment in Hillary Clinton for voting to authorize this war has resurfaced with a vengeance. It would be different if I personally had held similar beliefs as her at the time she supported authorization. I could well argue that I had also been hoodwinked and we both made mistakes and we learn from them. But I was against the war from the beginning -- even before the beginning. I participated in a street march here in Austin in which thousands of protesters showed up to take a stand against what was then merely the potential for a war.

I'm not the type of person to be easily motivated to inconvenience myself unless I feel an injustice of inconceivable proportions is about to be unleashed. But txrad and I along with thousands of other did believe in our hearts this war was dead wrong. And we were right. And Hillary was wrong.

Now I have to decide whether to forgive someone for making such an obvious mistake and reward her with my vote, even as I am imperfect in my own personal affairs and decisions, and currently paying the price for my obvious mistakes.

I have a few more hours to mull it over. Meanwhile, this little widget that I've had on my blog sidebar almost since the beginning will probably be removed soon. It seems pretty meaningless at this point.

No comments: