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unhappycamper Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-23-11 05:45 AM
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Do You Feel Safer Yet?
Do You Feel Safer Yet?
by Tom Engelhardt
Published on Saturday, January 22, 2011 by TomDispatch.com

In New York City, my hometown, as in so many cities across the country, a hard-pressed local government and a desperate transit authority are cutting back on services while hiking prices for a deteriorating subway and bus system. For night workers and those out in the lonely, dark early morning hours, some bus lines are simply being eliminated. Meanwhile, in one small settlement of 14,000 people in embattled Helmand Province in southern Afghanistan, a single marine platoon is spending on average $400,000 a month on "reconstruction projects." The Marines have, according to a BBC reporter who visited, "put up street lights, cleaned irrigation channels, handed out radios, paved the bazaar, built bridges, and are currently building a new school." Do I feel safer?

In the U.S., policemen and firemen are being laid off, and the budgets of police and fire departments cut back or, in a few small places, eliminated. In Afghanistan, the U.S., having already invested $20 billion in building up the Afghan police and military, is now planning to spend $11.6 billion more this year alone, $12.8 billion in 2012, and more than $6 billion a year thereafter. According to Washington's latest scheme, the Afghan security forces will be increased to 378,000 men in a poverty-stricken land, which means committing U.S. tax dollars to the project into the distant future. Do you feel safer?

In the United States, teachers are being laid off, class-sizes are on the rise, and tuition at public colleges is soaring. In Afghanistan, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) claims to have built or refurbished 524 schools and to be completing another 130 of them. Do you feel safer now?

In the U.S., basic infrastructure has been fraying, bridges collapsing, natural gas pipelines exploding, and projects like a commuter-rail tunnel connecting New Jersey to New York City are being canceled or put off. In Afghanistan and Pakistan, giant American-funded building projects are revving up (for which locals are being hired), especially a giant embassy/citadel in Kabul at the cost of $511 million (with nearly $200 million more going to the expansion of consular establishments elsewhere in that country). Meanwhile in Islamabad, Pakistan's capital, another monster U.S. citadel-cum-regional-command-center is being built for nearly three-quarters of a billion dollars. Do you feel safer yet?

In the United States, according to the director of the Argonne National Laboratory, the aging national power grid "resembles the patchwork of narrow, winding, badly maintained highways of the 1920s and 1930s" before they were rebuilt as the interstate highway system and cries out for "strategic upgrading." In Afghanistan, USAID has just awarded the Black & Veatch Corporation "a no-bid contract worth $266 million... to pump more power into Kandahar and Helmand provinces." Meanwhile the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is investing $227 million in diesel-generator power plants and electrical-system upgrades for southern Afghanistan. Finally feeling a little safer?
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elocs Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-23-11 06:05 AM
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1. To be honest, I've never really felt unsafe so I've never thought much about feeling "safer". n/t
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xchrom Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-23-11 06:40 AM
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2. this bears repeating:
'Meanwhile, in one small settlement of 14,000 people in embattled Helmand Province in southern Afghanistan, a single marine platoon is spending on average $400,000 a month on "reconstruction projects." The Marines have, according to a BBC reporter who visited, "put up street lights, cleaned irrigation channels, handed out radios, paved the bazaar, built bridges, and are currently building a new school."

when i think about the infrastructure deficit and the crying need to develop good jobs here at home -- this makes me furious.
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TBF Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-23-11 06:58 AM
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3. As a citizen of the world I love to see improvements everywhere,
but why are we neglecting our own maintenance here at home?
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reggie the dog Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-23-11 09:55 AM
Response to Reply #3
4. it is less profitable here at home
the companies doing the building can contract out work to locals and pay afghan wages, this means their profit margin is higher in afghanistan than in the usa....
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