International Forecaster Weekly

Costs Of War In Iraq Underestimated

costs of war in Iraq underestimated... flaws in the electoral system... the coming war in Iran... Big pharma keeps politicians drugged with contributions...

Bob Chapman | April 29, 2006

George and the neocons have deliberately underestimated the costs of the Iraq War. Costs have escalated far beyond original estimates as progress has come to a halt and our troops fight a defensive war. Iraq has never had Democracy and it may well not be suitable for Iraqis. This is not a $50 billion war as characterized by George at the beginning of the conflict and when Larry Summers said $200 billion long ago he was fired. This invasion and occupation is going to cost generations of Americans not yet even born trillions of dollars in debt and interest. This war was planned and executed by idiots and the idiot in charge is Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. These mistakes will cost each American family $1,205 by the end of 2006, a debt with interest that doubles every five years. We are told if and when the occupation ever ends, we’ll have to spend another $36 billion to replace worn out equipment. We wonder if these numbers register in George’s mind, especially when he is planning a bigger and more expansive war in Iran? We expect George’s wars will bankrupt America.

We also marvel at the élan arrogance of public officials and corporate titans. It seems to have become a hallmark in our society.

We are talking about what was once the American dream in the land of opportunity – only in America. If you worked hard and smart, you could most certainly improve your lot in life.

Today, Americans are watching their culture being destroyed before their eyes. People who are illegally in our country are demanding citizenship because they work hard and they are driving wages lower in the process. Corporate America is slashing pensions and health care benefits, as workers have watched real wages decline for 25 years. The average American family has to work harder to maintain their standard of living and many have to extract equity from their homes to keep their heads above water. Americans are supposed to be happy with the trickle-down affect from entertainers and corporate chieftains. That doesn’t work unfortunately. The gap between CEO and worker compensation is 143 to 1, or $11.8 million to $27,460. That gap was 107-1 in 1990. If salaries of the average worker had kept up with that of the CEO, he would be making $110,136 a year. That is real imbalance. If the minimum wage had been increasing at the same rate of executive compensation it would be $23.01 per hour. The minimum wage has been $5.15 since 1997. In 1980, the salary gap was only 42 to 1. In 2005, income that went to the highest 20% of households increased from 45.5% in 1979 to 52% in 2003. The remaining 80% lost income. This is very definitely exploitation. It is no wonder that between the 1960s and 1990s the percentage of Americans who felt that the government is run by a few big special interests, looking out only for themselves, doubled to reach 70%. This leads us to the connection between economic inequality and political inequality. This is why a tiny portion of elitists with inordinate wealth and influence run our country from behind the scenes. We live in a land of inequality and those inequities get worse each and every day, assisted by politicians from both our major political parties. Over the last 24 years the richest 1% of Americans more than doubled, the income of the middle 15% grew by only 15% and the income of the poorest 20% barely budged. In the late 1990s, the richest 1% owned 1/3 of all the wealth and took 60% of income. That is worse than during our great depression.

An outcrop of all this is that Senators and Congressmen listen very little to their constituents. They listen to corporate interests that are large company contributors. That is why it is so important we clean house in Washington in November. Change for the sake of change. You not only have to contact your elected representatives, you have to vote. How can you expect to change things when only a little bit – better than 50% of you vote? 86% of the wealthy vote.

The method of funding elections is flawed. It is an exercise in buying votes, 95% of campaign contributions come from households making over $100,000 a year. It’s unfortunate, but for the past 25 years, the participatory democracy we once had has left us. Equality is dead and if something doesn’t happen soon to bring us into balance, we fear for the future of our nation.

The Communist Chinese road show is over and it was lose-lose for America. Upon departure, President Hu Jintao said he might cooperate. This was anti-American psywar, planned and executed by George and the neocons. We also found out if you speak out about human rights violations by Chinese dictators, you are arrested and thrown in jail. We saw no commitment to revalue a yuan that is 60% undervalued, nor to stop human rights violations. The Illuminists allowed China a venue to showcase its position as an emerging power. The meetings were pro-Chinese so much so that our President met with congressional leaders and told them to keep their mouth’s shut. Overall, the meetings were a disgrace and they shamed our country. China’s society is brutalized by tyrants like Hu and no one talks about it or is allowed to talk about it in our corporatist fascist society. The same cabal that financed fascism and communism for the past century is now busy bankrolling China.

The use of nuclear weapons against Iran would be a disaster affecting the entire world. Bombing would escalate into a world war of Muslims against the US, UK and Europe. The nuclear fallout would kill millions. The Persian Gulf oil facilities and tankers would be attacked and oil could jump to $100 to $300 a barrel. Iran’s terrorist network could be let loose and if they have nuclear weapons we could lose several major cities and millions of Americans. American embassies and corporate interests all over the world would be bombed. Iranian troops would cross into Iraq and assist Shiite militias in attacking Baghdad and the US 8 Fort Apaches. Americans you are not going to want to pay the price for such a foolhardy venture. Big Pharma in order to purchase politicians is spending tens of millions of dollars on campaign contributions, gifts and lobbying. They want to protect those drug profits. These companies spent $44 million lobbying state governments in 2003-2004. that is $880,000 a state. They spent more than $8 million on state political candidates and groups, and also paid for meals, golf tournaments, baseball games, etc.

At the state level are state initiatives that would reduce the cost of drugs and cost the industry some of their profits. The drug industry says it donated $5.1 billion in free prescriptions last year to needy patients. That was retail. Their cost was probably $500 million. The industry has been spending millions of dollars at the same time to influence state legislature and drug prices. The American consumer is the loser in these industry efforts. We pay up to 200% more for drugs than do our neighbors in Mexico and Canada. We are being gouged and subsidizing the entire world’s drug purchases. That is why Big Pharma spends almost $100 million a year on lobbying at the federal level.

Part of the lobbying effort is directed at keeping blockbuster drugs widely used by the elderly from being sold in cheaper generic versions when their patents expire. Branded drug companies are constructing roadblocks to potential savings of $23 billion to seniors and the Medicare commonly used by older people are set to go off patent by 2010. Four of them are Zocor, Pravachol, Zoloft and Proscar. Those alone will save Medicare $13 billion. Big Pharma is seeking legislation to keep patients in force, which is a license to steal, and is unfair.

Next, thanks to huge government grants to Pharma companies, they turn around and make gigantic profits off the drugs they create, Americans are paying twice for many of the drugs on which they depend. That is first via federal grants and then at the drug store.

Genentech reported first quarter sale up 39% to $1.64 billion, while sales of their colon-cancer drug, Avastin, increased 96% to $398 million. Colorectal cancer patients pay $46,640 to prolong their lives through a 10-month treatment, which is totally immoral. This is a monopoly and very few can afford the treatment. Parts of the development costs were paid by the government, which means government should have something to say about drug prices. This is fairness when 44% of health research in the US is funded by federal grants. Under the Bayh-Dole Act of 1980, federal agencies have the regulatory authority to enforce reasonable pricing of patented drugs developed with the aid of federal funding. The law is never enforced because of big Pharma payoffs. This is a problem not only with Avastin, but also with all drugs. This is the state of big Pharma as it runs roughshod over Americans.