In her attempt to stimulate conversation, our hostess asked, “Have you any idea how much this thing in Afghanistan has cost us?” I took the time to look it up.
Right now the war costs the U.S. about $120 billion a year. During the 10 years since American troops invaded Afghanistan, Uncle Sam has spent more than $18 billion in foreign aid to that country with limited success. More important than the dollars, the war has already cost well over 1,600 American lives. Can anyone put a dollar value on that? I think not.
Now that President Obama announced a plan for troop withdrawal, there are questions being asked by both the left and the right. Is he doing this because it’s the right thing to do or is it just because it is politically expedient and will help him in his reelection campaign?
Frankly, Scarlett, I don’t care. Whatever my president’s reasoning, I just want this thing over with and our military brought back home. Our hostess went on to say that bringing our military home will hurt the nation even more.
“That’s another 20 or 30,000 here in the states looking for jobs where there are none. Everybody knows that wars are good for the economy.”
The room then became silent. That’s when I took over.
“No problem. Bring ’em home and put them on the Texas, Arizona, California and Canadian borders — with weapons. Do that and Obama will solve this illegal immigrant problem.”
That’s when one of the guests corrected me.
“They are not ‘illegal immigrants.’ The proper term is ‘undocumented workers.’”
She was corrected by a staunch conservative who stated, “Calling an illegal immigrant an undocumented worker is like calling a drug pusher an undocumented pharmacist.”
• • •
I’m certain that everyone in the U.S. noticed that in my column last week I omitted my regular comment to David Raisman about our government’s excessive, wasteful spending. Instead of offering Mr. R two examples to make up for it, I’ll apologize by exposing four.
1) Members of Congress have spent hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars supplying their offices with plasma TVs, popcorn machines, camcorders, DVD equipment and signature machines. If items such as popcorn machines are so important, why can’t they buy it themselves?
2) Our federal government spends $25 billion dollars annually maintaining unused or vacant properties. Normal businessmen find tenants or sell off these costly assets. We need more businessmen in government.
3) In an 18-month period, Air Force and Navy personnel used government credit cards to pay for $300,000 worth of entertainment events, cruises, gambling, exotic dance clubs and — you guessed it — prostitutes. Shame on them.
4) In recent weeks we have learned about a members-only congressional gym. To use this facility, senators pay $40 a month while representatives pay only $20. That doesn’t nearly cover the mega-million dollar costs of the building and maintenance. It’s a given that taxpayers fund the larger portion of this perk. Why?
I am StanGershbein@Bellsouth.net telling you, Mr. Raisman, to stay tuned. We’ll have more next week.