Let's count all that gold bullion
that is supposed to pour out of our body bags.

Written By Lin Stone
 

Peter Morici is a professor at the University of Maryland and a former chief economist at the U.S. International Trade Commission. He presented the opinion that Hurricane Sandy may prove to be an economic boon, writing: "Disasters can give the ailing construction sector a boost, and unleash smart reinvestment that actually improves stricken areas and the lives of those that survive intact. Ultimately, Americans, as they always seem to do, will emerge stronger in the wake of disaster and rebuild better — making a brighter future in the face of tragedy."
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Paul Krugman wrote in his New York Times column titled "Reckonings; After the Horror" that as "ghastly as it may seem to say this, the terror attack — like the original day of infamy, which brought an end to the Great Depression — could even do some economic good." He explained that rebuilding the destruction would stimulate the economy through business investment and job creation.
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No wonder our country is in such bad shape when its professors of economics can't even add, or subtract!
***
As the war clouds gather round us again the War Will Make Us Rich theory of economics rears its ugly head in the bars, politics and even in some business circles once more. Even state and national historians have openly declared the theory is true that war will save and HAS saved our economy and in some magical way boosts the supply of bucks bumping around in our pockets as we "SPEND OUR WAY out of a depression."
Unfortunately, Not even the alleged purchase of 30,000 body bags keeps the new advocates of the War-is-Wonderful and will make us rich theory from fervently contemplating the burst of prosperity this new war in the gulf will bring to us.
According to the War and devastation-is-Wonderful and will make us filthy rich theory so prevalent among politicians and barflies: as the body bags fill up with the mangled youth of our nation, each parent can know that every child so sacrificed was a hero worth a sack full of gold bullion to the economy.
Does that make sense to you? Were we richer every time a cargo ship went down during World War I and II? Can you believe we were richer for removing the healthiest workers from our job market and paying them LESS to stand at attention in harm's way and the Fed LOANED us money to continue the war?
If this theory is true then, at the end of World War I we should have got down on our knees and thanked the Germans for making us richer! Instead the allies furiously insisted on imposing the harsh reparations that fueled Hitler's rise to power and precipitated the horrors of World War II.
In World War II Germany pounded England without mercy. Was England richer because of it? Or was Churchill telling the truth when he said there was nothing but beer cans left to pound the German invaders with when they arrived – because there were no pounds left in England's Royal Treasury?
Were we made richer because the Japanese destroyed our Pacific fleet and we had to borrow more money to replace it that fleet, and replace the irreplaceable trained men who were killed in that savage attack?
When German cities and tanks and munitions were destroyed by the allies did we make Hitler’s economy soar? Did the VietNam war prosper us -- or them? Did the first Gulf War enrich us?
We have been told the attack on the World Trade Center was an act of war from terrorists, so when it collapsed did a huge mound of gold magically rise from the ashes and pour into our coffers? Has anything at all from the War on Terror done ANYTHING to flood our national coffers?
I submit the view that only a few friends of the Government got rich, that only a few (lucky) workers received enhanced wages, and that the rest of US tightened our belts and suffered the consequences because there was a war on. In short, I completely reject every shredded part of the War-is-Wonderful and will make us rich theory.
You see this theory about war making us rich posted in state owned museums, you read it alluded to in many speeches and political writing, and you hear it praised in bars and taverns all across the land: but, is there any sense at all contained in the War-is-Wonderful and will make us rich theory? Well, ask yourself these simple questions: Can you get a drought to end by pouring your last gallon of water down a rat hole? Can you put more bread on the table by burning off half the wheat in the field?
You know as well as I do the answer to all these questions is a resounding NO!
Let's just use the price of gas as indicative of other staples fluctuating in our midst, and do some basic math here. If you can add and subtract you can understand the precepts. In 1914, gas prices were hovering at 14.5 cents per gallon. Right after all the gas rationing of World War II, gas prices were bouncing around the quarter a gallon mark. After Korea, gas prices were knocking at the half dollar a gallon mark. VietNam, and then the First Gulf War brought gas prices up to the dollar mark. By the time the World Trade Center went down, gas prices were almost $1.50 per gallon. After our second 90 day war in the Gulf settled down to sporadic blazes of glory, gas prices were occasionally spiking at over the $4.00 a gallon mark.
It has been a common political practice for the Government to blame the mean old oil companies for gouging the American Public with rising gas prices -- and it works, millions of people believe the propaganda -- kind of like Hitler stayed in power by blaming the Jews for cornering the supply of money. In these modern days the focus has shifted to blaming the Arabs for charging too much for a barrel of oil. But actually, the underlying reason for these tragic increases is because believing the War-is-Wonderful and will make us rich theory is bleeding US to death!
Blame the oil companies, blame the Arabs, blame the terrorists, blame anybody you want to for thwarting the economic power of this War-is-Wonderful theory, but the fact remains that even after all these wonderful wars, our country is now poor, not rich. A whole dollar won't even buy a nickel candy bar any more.
We owe Communist China more money than any other nation on earth.
American tourists traveling abroad are discovering that the American dollar is now viewed more and more regularly with suspicion, and often accepted only with genuine reluctance. Our money is not appreciated where once it was grabbed out of our hands.
If any of these questions could be answered with an affirmative YES there could only be three variables that do make war profitable.
1. killing off our young people.
2. scrapping our military equipment --
3. spending our money hand over fist.
I'll examine these one by one to see if any of them have a chance of working.
First, Does war pay because we kill off our young people?

If so, then why send them off to some dirty, filthy, unhealthy foreign country to do them in? It would be much more sanitary to just line all our High School football players up on the streets during every Fourth of July celebration -- with the richest kids right out there in front since they are worth more -- and have our mayors direct the police to mow them down with brand new machine guns.
You don't think so, huh? Hopefully you are furious at the thought, but dead is dead and neither kind of death will make money appear out of thin air.
Okay, Does war pay because our equipment was destroyed?
If so, then let's roll all of it into the ocean and make it do a David Crockett "SKOW" as it goes down. Maybe if we auction off the film rights to Hollywood we can even get paid twice. That might do the trick.
No? Well, Does war pay because we spend our money with reckless abandon?
If that is true, we don't have to waste it on killing and destruction that could make us some more enemies... Instead, let's pay the mothers of this great nation for raising bright children.
For each child producing straight A-s pay the mother (or guardian) $10,000.00 per year.
For each child producing nothing less than a B, pay the mother $5,000.00
And, for each child producing nothing less than a C, pay the mother $1,000.00
Wouldn't that be a hoot? Instead of crying because they have lost a child in some crummy, jerkwater country, there would be tears of joy because their child had applied a few brains to the chalkboard!
You know, that idea might work, at that!
How can anyone with a brain in their head believe wars ever produce anything besides indebtedness, death and destruction? When the war is over and that illusion of loose gold quits spinning, we invariably pay for the war because we have nothing but Tricky Dick gold left to shore up our ravaged treasury with.
Killing off the youth of this planet does not improve anyone's economy. Just since the year 1900 CE. we have killed off over 100 million people, and that’s just in the organized wars. Let those who believe in the theory that War Will Make Us Rich, count up the carnage of wars past and explain -- in simple English -- where the replacement funds for the money we rolled off the hot presses came from.
Perhaps some college professor teaching the Government that war will make us rich can explain these particular figures: In 1914 our national debt was only $2,912,499,269.16 By 1919 our national debt was $27,390,970,113.12 Remember too that from then, right up to this very day we are still paying benefits to some of the veterans who came home from that war. Add it ALL up, professor. Tell us: How much prosperity did that Great War bring to us?
It's a fact of nature, an immutable law, if you will; Destruction does not breed wealth either in its progress, or in its wake. Nor does it matter if it erupts from the loins of our political lions or from killer hurricane winds.
It never has. It never will.
In July of 2008, Foreclosure Filings Soared 121 Percent over 2007. 220,000 homes were lost to bank repossessions in the second quarter alone. That is nearly triple the number from the same period in 2007 Does THAT indicate an increase in wealth?.
Back in 1939 our national debt was only $40,439,532,411.11 By 1945 our national debt was $258,682,187,409.93 and again, we had not yet begun to pay off our debts to the veterans who fought and bled to finish our war.
War made us Rich?
Get real! War slapped a saddle on our backs
and crammed a Spanish bit down our mouths.
Although only 148 soldiers were killed and 467 soldiers wounded in the first Gulf War, ten years later we have almost two out of every five Gulf War Veterans on disability. Tell me, What kind of wealth did we create from that war? But there is MORE still to be considered..
On top of that, we are still paying for World War I
We are still paying for World War II
We are still paying for Korea
And, we are still paying for VietNam
Do I need to go on populating this list?
The fact is, NOT ONE of these Wars has made us any richer because:
Today (7 January 2003) our national debt now totals $6,387,381,983,103.35
Since 1952 the international reserve position of the U.S. has fallen from 50% of the world's total to a mere 3% of that total - - In spite of all our wars and fighting that was going to make us rich, that means we have created a 94% drop in our net worth-bucket.
In short, there is no basis in fact of any kind for the War Will Make US Rich theory -- Perhaps this desire to believe it will bless US is being properly nurtured by our youth that leave here thinking they are proof. Perhaps we want to believe it is true because of some racial superstition that the old law of sacrifice is working some kind of subtle magic. You may remember it. In biblical times hundreds of infants were sacrificed on the altars of Baal in order to improve the economy. If we pursue the theory that filling up X number of body bags with the pride of our nation will make us rich, are we any wiser now than they were then?
Inside What It Is Like to Go to War (published in 2011) by Karl Marlantes one passage reads 'I had no framework or guidance to help me put combat’s terror, exhilaration, horror, guilt and pain into some larger framework that would have helped me find meaning in them later.’
In 2012 CE. there were 349 active duty suicides. The number of combat-related deaths was only 295. When American soldiers kill in war, the secret shame and guilt can literally destroy their lives, forever.
According to the VA, since 2001 almost 2.5 million Americans went to war in Afghanistan and in Iraq, with more than 800,000 of them deploying more than once. Several of our local boys went over 3 times in the last conflict. 700,000 of those veterans have already been awarded disability status, with another 90,000 filings that are pending with the VA,
Combat conditions are only one small part of any war. It's during that period between combat situations when time hangs heaviest on the mind -- when the movies begin to spin relentlessly and the guilt spills out with growing strength. When the body sleeps the mind continues to churn out judgments and meaning by shifting and turning permutations of experience. The mind uses that time to think, weigh, seek balance in the toss-up, for right and wrong to be established.
In the lulls between combat there is often nothing to do but drink and party in order to shove the after-images of combat situations into the back of the mind. All the situation-ethics in the world cannot call a halt to the collateral damage and civil destruction of the soul that is war’s most enduring legacy. Any sanity that comes will happen only after our soldiers have wrestled a giant beast to the ground and slain it at least once. When no adequate answer comes from the heart or mind the soul will beg God for judgment and forgiveness because the ruler that modern society uses to weigh our actions with is not sharp enough to remove the damaged identity of who we thought we were, before the going got too tough to go through.
I volunteered to be on the front line when the truce terminated in Korea, and I volunteered to be on the firing line when Kennedy decided to show the Russians that our youth were downright eager for them to cross that line and start something. However, if another war is ever forced upon us by an enemy -- let our anger at the cost help us to respond in sharp, decisive, furious strength, to fight our battles on principles of righteousness, with our eyes open, knowing all the while that it is costing us money, time, and lives.
I beg of you, don't ever welcome war because of some secret hope that our financial coffers will be filled by those bags of silver spilling their guts out over our great nation.
It won't happen.
War is Hell.
War does not make money;
War COSTS money. It is that plain. It is that simple. Consequently,
NO war will EVER make us rich;
it won't even make us richer.
War COSTS US money! Any wealth it seems to bring, comes out of OUR own pockets!
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The stoical scheme of supplying our wants by lopping off our desires, is like cutting off our feet when we want shoes. -- Jonathan Swift
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the end

Addendum: 30 June 2008: President Bush on Monday signed legislation to pay for the war operations in Iraq and Afghanistan for the rest of his presidency and beyond, hailing the $162 billion plan as a rare product of bipartisan cooperation.  And don't forget, we still have to pay Bush's salary until he dies.

Lin Stone is an author, writer, and photographer. 

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