Wednesday, November 14, 2007

War Cost Lies from Congress

The [Democratic-led Joint Economic Committee] calculated the average cost of both wars for a family of four would be $20,900 from 2002 to 2008. The cost for a family of four would go up to $46,400 from 2002 to 2017, the committee said.

From War costs could total $1.6 trillion by 2009, panel estimates

This is a blatantly dishonest way of calculating costs used, in this case, for its propaganda effect in giving people a dishonest sense of the cost of the war and a dishonest appraisal of those who got us into it.

This 'statistic' is a lie, regardless of one's position on the war. It would be a true statement if the American tax system assigned taxes per head - if every person payed the same dollar amount each year to the government. Then (and only then) would it be honest to divide the total cost among the people equally.

However, some people pay more in taxes than others. Some people pay nothing at all. So their share of this tax burden will be proportionately less.

However, the Democratic leaders of this committee want to lie to you and tell you that this war is making you worse off than it is in fact. They want you (and every other family) to think that you would have been $20,000 wealthier if not for the war. They want to manipulate you into having the reaction that is reasonable to have in response to this $20,000 figure, rather than be honest with you.

I am not saying this as somebody who is fond of the war. My position has always been that, unless and until I get security clearance, I cannot make an honest assessment of the best way to proceed. Since I will not be getting that type of clearance, we need people in power who, when they do have access to that information, will make an honest evaluation based on the available evidence.

The people who produced this report are not interested in making and presenting an honest evaluation. They are interested in using sophistry and deceipt for political purposes.

Of course, the blame does not only rest with the Democratic committee that released this sophist propaganda, but with the news organizations who fail to see (and report) the deception behind these numbers. I would pay good money for a news organization staffed with people who have the intelligence to point out the deception behind claims such as this.

That's not the type of people I want in government.


Sheldon said...

"However, the Democratic leaders of this committee want to lie to you and tell you that this war is making you worse off than it is in fact. They want you (and every other family) to think that you would have been $20,000 wealthier if not for the war."

I really think your comments here are nit-picking poppycock!

Nobody is mislead into thinking that they would be personally $20,000 dollars richer, or that the authors are actually intending to mislead people in this direction. It is simply a way to put that vast amount money in perspective.

And it is an absolutely valid way to put that amount of money in perspective. This way we can get a better idea of how these wars squander such vast resources that could be put to better use in social spending for education, health, science, and peaceful space exploration and development. Regardless of how the taxes are actually distributed and who pays them.

Alonzo Fyfe said...


There are lots of ways to put this amount of money in perspective other than to use this misleading piece of rhetoric.

There is a far better way in which this amount of money could have been put to better use - by simply itemizing the things that we could have bought with this much money.

Compare it, for example, to the amount of money the Bush Administration would have spent (using identical accounting methods) over this same time period on (1) energy independence and renewable energy production (i.e., not funding the terrorists and avoiding the massive destruction that would be caused by global warming), (2) medical research (fighting diseases that kill and maim far more people each year than terrorists could dream of killing, (3) deficit reduction (that is, ending this habit of stealing from our children and grand children by bying things on credit and sending them the bill).

This method - this $20,000 per household figure - is the preferred method of the propagandist because of the immediate emotional reaction to the claim, "You have been made $20,000 worse off by the Bush Administration."

There is no reason to prefer this $20,000 per household figure instead of a more honest representation of the cost other than the propaganda effect that one gets off of the sound byte.

Sheldon said...


I think we are in agreement that there are far better ways to have spent that money. And I also agree with you that there are more accurate ways to have accounted for the waste by itemizing potential beneficial programs.

However, I guess my complaint was that I think you overstate the charge of lying and deception.

As I reflect on this question more, I think it worthy of note that the problem is the ideological paradigm of U.S. culture that views wealth distribution issues in terms of individual/family benefits.

They could say we could have spent this much on a funding health insurance, and someone would think "that does not benefit me, I have health insurance."

1) energy independence and renewable energy production

"That doesn't benefit me, I have money invested, or I work in the oil industry."

I would rather people have a more collective benefit perspective, and not do accounting based exclusively on immediate individual/family benefits. However, this is literally how we are taught to think about these things.

Doug S. said...

It's the old problem of the difference between "average" and "median".