The total cost of Congressional appropriations for the invasion and occupation of Iraq since 2003 has risen to a third of a trillion dollars. The portion of that 333 billion that Ozaukee County taxpayers have to pay is 117 million dollars. But those numbers don’t mean much to most of us. So I’m breaking it down here for mulling over a coffee or a beer or at the kitchen table.
117 million dollars comes to a dollar a second just from Ozaukee County taxpayers, just for the war in Iraq. A dollar every second for the last three and a half years. 117 million dollars averages close to three thousand dollars per household, so far. 117 million dollars is a little over a dollar apiece per day, since March, 2003, from each and every man, woman and child living in Ozaukee County. 117 million dollars is Ozaukee County’s portion of what is appropriated for whatever the U.S. government has spent so far in Iraq. Spent for things like no-bid contracts (with no performance reviews) that are handed to favored war-profiteering corporations, including private “interrogators” and mercenaries.
During the period since the invasion began, the annual total property tax levy in Ozaukee County has averaged about 165 million dollars. Our property taxes fund our police and ambulance and fire and emergency services, and sewage and water and garbage and courts and jails and roads and community college and Lasata Care Center, and basically, all local and county government services. And all our public schools, too.
Bottom line is, one dollar has been charged by the federal government to Ozaukee County taxpayers just for the War in Iraq for every five dollars we pay in total property tax billings since March 2003.
(The current Iraq conflict has already lasted as long as “the duration” that the United States fought to defeat Germany and Italy and Japan in World War II, with no end in sight in Iraq, and with more fish that also had nothing to do with 9-11 that the Administration is thinking of frying elsewhere.)
Think of it as a generous 20 percent gratuity. Now how long do you think we ought to continue paying that fat “tip”? Are you ready yet to add another open-ended “gratuity” to pay for an additional show in, say, Iran? How about for “waging war … throughout the world … until … citizens of all countries can be assured of their safety” as the Ozaukee County War referendum asks?
As everyone knows, we’re closing schools, and can’t find the money to fix a school roof and maintain the physical plant. Employees are getting their health care coverage cut back. School boards are trying to load extra work on teachers with no extra pay. They’re cutting back on art and music and other valuable and important educational services. We can’t even come up with the money to build a sorely needed library. Why? ‘Cause we “ain’t got the dough” for these kind of “frills” in Ozaukee County! That’s why.
This “Iraq gratuity” is being paid in every county across America. And it often cuts even deeper and closer to the bone elsewhere than it does here in Ozaukee County. How the devil is the rest of Wisconsin and America doing, coughing up this fear-induced extortion to pay for the federal government’s misbegotten, mismanaged, scandal ridden, “cost-plus”, tragedy-without-end in Iraq?
What are we getting for this? What’s anybody getting that’s worth the hundred thousand lives lost, and the terrible injuries to bodies, minds, families, and communities?
What is anyone getting that’s worth invading a country that had absolutely nothing to do with 9-11, and had no means whatsoever to attack us militarily?
That’s worth gaining the enmity and mistrust of so many people around the world who used to be our sympathetic friends?
That’s worth the loss of our own self-esteem for failing to honor our history as a courageous, freedom loving, Constitution protecting, nation of laws?
Not to mention the outrageous financial cost to us and to everyone, of the inauspicious beginning to this ill-conceived War to End Terror Throughout the World. (A cost to everyone, that is, except a few very well-heeled, well-placed, war profiteers.)
Vote NO in NOvember on the stupid War Question. It’s not a referendum to support the troops. Read the entire sentence, beyond the first ddozen words, before you vote. You’ll see. It’s a referendum for a perpetual war of aggression and subsequent occupations, with ever mounting costs of attrition and no prospect of victory because no enemy is identified, and the goals are unrealistic. That’s no way, any day, to support the troops.
And vote NO on the stupid Death Penalty Question. It will cost Wisconsin taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars just to establish the infrastructure and underpinnings for it, even if nobody is ever executed. It doesn’t deter murder. Canada’s murder rate dropped and kept dropping AFTER they abolished the death penalty. States without the death penalty have a lower murder rate than states that have the death penalty. The death penalty is unfair. Nobody wealthy has ever been executed for murder in the U.S. What kind of a “Conservative”, what kind of a “Christian” could be in favor of reversing the proud accomplishment of our pioneer ancestors who abolished capital punishment here in 1853 and led the way for all of Europe and most of the rest of the world’s nations in the century and a half that followed their inspiring decision? Don’t let those wild spending, hot-button-pushing legislators turn our back on the proud legacy left by our pioneer founders of Wisconsin.
And the Amendment to Ban Civil Unions? It’s fair enough for the state to say that marriage is a union between a man and a woman. (Although I’m puzzled how the state will enforce this provision. Mandatory physical exams? Genetic sampling? Don’t ask, don’t tell?) But aside from that, that’s not all that fool amendment states. It’s the words that follow that proposed definition that are mean spirited and hurtful of good, loving people and nurturing families and children who depend on supportive government policies. Vote NO and tell the legislature to try again, if they must, but this time, leave out all that unnecessary, unworthy junk they added to the simple definition of marriage.
Vote like you’re not a fraidy cat and vote like the future depends upon your considered good judgment.
October 8, 2006