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The Rich Get Richer, The Poor Get Killed
May 11, 2004
By Padraigh18

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In his speech to the nation last year, in which he announced that the unprovoked invasion of Iraq was underway, President George W. Bush alluded to the sacrifice required of a nation at war. Historically, whenever a president has been forced to put American troops in harm's way, he has called upon all Americans - especially the most fortunate among us - to do whatever they can to help with the war effort. Bush paid lip service to this concept in his speech.

"Americans understand the costs of conflict because we have paid them in the past," he said. "War has no certainty, except the certainty of sacrifice." But in Bush's America, the only certainty is that those at the bottom of the socio-economic ladder will continue to sacrifice considerably more than those at the top.

So far, Bush's war has cost more than $120 billion and 700 American lives.

But if the American system has treated you well enough to allow you to become wealthy, you probably think everything is going great. You've gotten tax cut after tax cut. None of your family or friends have been sent to Iraq. You haven't seen the hundreds of flag-draped caskets returning to America, because of the administration's ban on journalists from Dover Air Force Base. And if you're lucky (and immoral) enough to own a piece of Halliburton, Bechtel or another winner of huge no-bid contracts in Iraq, you've probably made more than enough of a profit from the unnecessary death and destruction to buy another SUV.

Today, the true costs of the war are being disproportionately borne by low- and middle-income Americans. These are the people losing access to child care, education, health care and other essential services because Bush continued to give tax cuts to the rich even after he decided to spend billions of dollars on an unnecessary war. These are the people left unemployed by the "jobless recovery" to which Bush's monomaniacal pursuit of war has led. And these are the people who are dying in Iraq, often because enlisting in the armed forces was the only way out of the destitution and poverty into which they were born.

But, of course, it's not just the current generation of Americans who will suffer from Bush's war. In fact, we haven't paid a dime of the $120 billion yet, because we don't have it. Bush and the Republican-led Congress have simply charged the bill to the country's already maxed-out credit card, to be paid for by future generations of American taxpayers.

And $120 billion is just the tip of the iceberg. Every month, Bush's war costs our future children and grandchildren an additional $4.7 billion. That's more than $100,000 per minute, 24 hours a day, until we are finally able to leave Iraq years or decades down the road.

Yet in addition to refusing to provide a realistic estimate of how much the next year of the war will cost until after the election, Bush has not asked his wealthy base to sacrifice anything. Not their tax cuts, not their corporations' offshore tax shelters and certainly not their huge gas-guzzling SUVs that will only lead to more oil wars in the Middle East.

On March 27 of last year, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, one of the Bush administration's most unabashed warmongers, told a House appropriations committee that "oil revenues of [Iraq] could bring between $50 billion and $100 billion over the next two or three years." Continuing the administration's policy of misleading Congress and the American people into war, Wolfowitz went on say that "we're dealing with a country that can really finance its own reconstruction."

Now, more than $120 billion and 700 American lives later, with oil flowing at barely a trickle, there is little evidence that anyone but us, our children and our grandchildren will bear the brunt of Bush's disastrous policy of unprovoked war.

Bush's rich friends at Halliburton, Bechtel and the rest, however, will continue to profit from the spilled blood of young Americans in Iraq for years to come.

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