Tag Archives: Costs

The Cost of an Empire, by Bill Bonner

The costs of America’s imperial wars are never borne by the criminals who promote them. From Bill Bonner at rogueeconomics.com:

Let’s drink to the hard-working people

Let’s drink to the lowly of birth

Raise your glass to the good and the evil

Let’s drink to the salt of the earth

Salt of the Earth, The Rolling Stones

YOUGHAL, IRELAND – Yes… we are hooting for the salt of the Earth. Saluting the faceless crowd, the lowly of birth… the masses… the hoi polloi… the proles.

In a few words: They are getting treated like Afghans.

Misled by the U.S. empire, corrupted by its fake money, and then left behind as the elite slip away.

Cost of Empire

Empires are always costly. And the costs are borne, mostly, by the working classes.

The Roman Republic was built by the blood and energy of its small farmers. Then, imperial conquests brought booty and slaves back to Rome. These were divvied up among the elite, who established large latifundia – farms run by slave labor.

The small farmers were driven out of business, forced to sell their farms to the big producers, and later, often forced to sell themselves and their children into slavery.

America never figured out how to make its empire pay.

From the very beginning, it was its own “little guys” who paid. They paid the taxes. They put on the uniforms. They may not have understood what “we” were fighting for, but they were ready to follow the sound of the cannon from San Juan Hill to Mỹ Lai.

The Vietnam War was one of the U.S. empire’s most spectacular fiascos. Your editor spent part of that war onboard a U.S. Navy cruiser… comfortably off the coast of California or at our base in San Diego.

Offered the glory of commanding a river boat on the Mekong Delta, he demurred. Even then, it was clear that the war was an expensive and dangerous boondoggle.

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Bring All the Troops Home: Stop Policing the Globe and Put an End to Endless Wars, by John W. Whitehead and Nisha Whitehead

Mind your own business use to be folk wisdom. Now the mere suggestion of it to the US foreign policy and military establishment is apostasy. From John W. Whitehead and Nisha Whitehead at rutherford.org:

“Let us resolve that never again will we send the precious young blood of this country to die trying to prop up a corrupt military dictatorship abroad. This is also the time to turn away from excessive preoccupation overseas to the rebuilding of our own nation. America must be restored to a proper role in the world. But we can do that only through the recovery of confidence in ourselves…. together we will call America home to the ideals that nourished us from the beginning.”—George S. McGovern, former Senator and presidential candidate

It’s time to bring all our troops home.

Bring them home from Somalia, Iraq and Syria. Bring them home from Germany, South Korea and Japan. Bring them home from Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Oman. Bring them home from Niger, Chad and Mali. Bring them home from Turkey, the Philippines, and northern Australia.

It’s not enough to pull American troops out of Afghanistan, America’s longest, bloodiest and most expensive war to date.

It’s time that we stop policing the globe, stop occupying other countries, and stop waging endless wars.

That’s not what’s going to happen, of course.

The U.S. military reportedly has more than 1.3 million men and women on active duty, with more than 200,000 of them stationed overseas in nearly every country in the world.

Those numbers are likely significantly higher in keeping with the Pentagon’s policy of not fully disclosing where and how many troops are deployed for the sake of “operational security and denying the enemy any advantage.” As investigative journalist David Vine explains, “Although few Americans realize it, the United States likely has more bases in foreign lands than any other people, nation, or empire in history.”

Don’t fall for the propaganda, though.

America’s military forces aren’t being deployed abroad to protect our freedoms here at home. Rather, they’re being used to guard oil fields, build foreign infrastructure and protect the financial interests of the corporate elite. In fact, the United States military spends about $81 billion a year just to protect oil supplies around the world.

The reach of America’s military empire includes close to 800 bases in as many as 160 countries, operated at a cost of more than $156 billion annually. As Vine reports, “Even US military resorts and recreation areas in places like the Bavarian Alps and Seoul, South Korea, are bases of a kind. Worldwide, the military runs more than 170 golf courses.”

This is how a military empire occupies the globe.

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20 Years Of War In Afghanistan Has Cost US Taxpayers Over $2.2 Trillion, by Tyler Durden

Afghanistan cost the US $2.2 trillion, including $88 billion to train the Afghan army that is folding like a cheap suit. That’s not to mention US and Afghan blood spilled, and the humiliation the US has suffered. Think anyone will be called to account for the disaster or made to pay a price for it? Not a chance. From Tyler Durden at zerohedge.com:

Just a reminder that as the D.C. think tank pundit class of chicken-hawk keyboard warriors and armchair interventionistas who helped get the US into this unnecessary ‘forever war’ in the first place writhe in frustration and pain while beholding from afar the American Empire in rapid retreat in Afghanistan, the US has wasted literally trillions over years propping up a government that now appears to barely be putting up a fight.

“From its start in 2001 through April 2021, the war in Afghanistan has cost U.S. taxpayers approximately $2.261 trillion, according to estimates earlier this year from the Costs of War Project at Brown University,” Fox News reviews of the disturbingly high figures. All that as the US public now sits back and witnesses US-trained Afghan forces retreat “without a bullet being fired”

And further as a number of veterans and independent analysts are now pointing out: “The Pentagon spent $88 billion dollars training the Afghan Army for 20 years It collapsed in 1 month.” It remains that “Not one general or politician will face consequences for this.”

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The One-Year Anniversary of Lockdowns, by Edward Peter Stringham

One year later, not even the lockdowners are arguing that the lockdowns have worked. From Edward Peter Stringham at aier.org:

One year ago, between March 13 and 16, 2020, began what most of us would agree were the most difficult days of our lives. We thought our rights and liberties were more or less secure or could only be hobbled on the margin. We took certain things for granted, such as that our governments would not – and could not – order us to stay home, close most businesses and schools, shut down travel, padlock churches and concert halls, cancel events, much less lock down society in the name of virus control. 

All that changed with a federal document issued March 13, 2020, and declassified three months later. It was the lockdown guidelines. Over the following days, governors panicked. People panicked. Bureaucrats were unleashed. All the powers of the state at all levels of society were deployed not on the virus but on the people, which is all that governments can really control. The lockdowns were nearly universal, implemented around the world but for a few holdouts, one of which was in the US (South Dakota). 

A year later, most states are opening up while those still clinging to lockdowns can no longer control people. Regardless of warnings from the top that going back to normal life is too dangerous, most people have decided to be done with the whole dreadful episode. 

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Your life under the Green New Deal, by Robert

The Green New Dealers think it’s just a matter of passing the right laws and presto, we’ll be living in an environmental paradise. Like every other liberal pipe dream, this will end in disaster. From Robert at iceagenow.info:

Green New Dealers would bring our country its knees – except that they would get more money, power and control.
Please, please, please, you must read this.

Locking our nation’s abundant coal, oil, natural gas and petroleum liquids in the ground would have far-reaching impacts that have (deliberately?) received little media attention.
The GND would control and pummel the jobs, lives, living standards, savings, personal choices and ecological heritage of rural, poor, minority, elderly and working classes.
_____________

“Joe Biden doesn’t want to tell us whether he supports single-payer nationalized healthcare, packing the Supreme Court or eliminating the Senate filibuster,” writes Paul Driessen. “However, he has been open and consistent about supporting the Green New Deal, which would completely replace America’s fossil fuels with “clean, green” electricity and biofuel energy by 2035.”

“He and other GND proponents want us to believe this can be done quickly, easily, affordably, ecologically, sustainably and painlessly. My article this week presents the facts about what this “total energy and economic transformation” would actually do. It’s all pain for no gain.”

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Skyrocketing Costs Will Pop All the Bubbles, by Charles Hugh Smith

The rising costs that never seem to register in the CPI are for the biggest items in many Americans’ budgets, and their incomes keep falling further behind. From Charles Hugh Smith at oftwominds.com:

The reckoning is coming, and everyone who counted on “eternal growth of borrowing” to stave off the reckoning is in for a big surprise.

We’ve used a simple trick to keep the status quo from imploding for the past 11 years: borrow whatever it takes to keep paying the skyrocketing costs for housing, healthcare, college, childcare, government, permanent wars and so on.

The trick has worked because central banks pushed interest rates to zero,lowering the costs of borrowing more as costs continued spiraling higher.

But that trick has been used up. The next step–negative interest rates–has failed to spark the “growth” required to pay for insanely overpriced housing, healthcare, college, childcare, government, etc.

We’ve reached the end of the line on lowering interest rates as a way of borrowing more to keep our heads above water. We’ve reached the point where households and enterprises can’t even afford the principle payments, i.e. no interest at all.

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The So-Called War on Terror Has Killed Over 801,000 People and Cost $6.4 Trillion: New Analysis, by Jessica Corbett

The direct and indirect costs of the war on terror have been staggering. From Jessica Corbett at commondreams.org:

“The numbers continue to accelerate, not only because many wars continue to be waged, but also because wars don’t end when soldiers come home.”

A U.S. Army soldier fires an M4 carbine rifle

A U.S. Army soldier fires an M4 carbine rifle during partnered live fire range training at Tactical Base Gamberi, Afghanistan on May 29, 2015. (Photo: Capt. Charlie Emmons/U.S. Army/Flickr/cc)

The so-called War on Terror launched by the United States government in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks has cost at least 801,000 lives and $6.4 trillion according to a pair of reports published Wednesday by the Costs of War Project at Brown University’s Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs.

“The numbers continue to accelerate, not only because many wars continue to be waged, but also because wars don’t end when soldiers come home,” said Costs of War co-director and Brown professor Catherine Lutz, who co-authored the project’s report on deaths.

“These reports provide a reminder that even if fewer soldiers are dying and the U.S. is spending a little less on the immediate costs of war today, the financial impact is still as bad as, or worse than, it was 10 years ago,” Lutz added. “We will still be paying the bill for these wars on terror into the 22nd century.”

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Explaining the High Cost of US Health Care: No Skin in the Game, by Mike Mish Shedlock

Here’s a radical idea. Why not try the same system for health care and medical insurance that brings you a superabundance of reasonably priced groceries at any one of thousands of grocery and superstores: the free market. We’ve tried everything else and all we have is a gigantic mess. From Mike Mish Shedlock at moneymaven.io:

Costs are expensive because there is almost no skin in the game. Graft has taken over.

The Wall Street Journal has an interesting article on healthcare: Why Americans Spend So Much on Health Care—In 12 Charts.

The U.S. spends more per capita on health care than any other developed nation. It will soon spend close to 20% of its GDP on health—significantly more than the percentage spent by major Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development nations.

What is driving costs so high? As this series of charts shows, Americans aren’t buying more health care overall than other countries. But what they are buying is increasingly expensive. Among the reasons is the troubling fact that few people in health care, from consumers to doctors to hospitals to insurers, know the true cost of what they are buying and selling.

Contributions to employer-sponsored health coverage aren’t taxed, which makes it less expensive for companies to pay workers with health benefits than wages. Generous benefits lead to higher spending, according to many economists, because employees can consume as much health care as they want without having to pay significantly more out of their own pockets.

The prices of many medicines are hidden because pharmacy-benefit managers—the companies that administer drug benefits for employers and health insurers—negotiate confidential discounts and rebates with drugmakers.

Price Growth Since 2000

Hospitals are becoming more consolidated and are using their market clout to negotiate higher prices from insurers.

Tax Benefits

Contributions to employer-sponsored health coverage aren’t taxed, which makes it less expensive for companies to pay workers with health benefits than wages. Generous benefits lead to higher spending, according to many economists, because employees can consume as much health care as they want without having to pay significantly more out of their own pockets.

The tax benefit is the country’s biggest single income-tax break, costing billions to government revenue.

To continue reading: Explaining the High Cost of US Health Care: No Skin in the Game