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Bombing Moe: Gilt furniture and calculating a war dividend

The classic arguments on Odyssey Dawn, made by the celebrity pundits and serious people arranged in Washington like gilt furniture never mix in what's going to continue to happen to the the middle class because of more big war adventure. Since the middle class had no voice in the matter, you don't see the faces of the people about to lose their jobs because the budget chop is coming. A culling from which Odyssey Dawn will be excused.

Instead, one gets examples like this -- from Adam Serwer -- at the Washington Post:

There are several reasons why the U.S. shouldn't be seen as taking the lead. For one thing, the U.S. is already occupied with the aftermath of one war in Iraq and attempting to bring a more than decade-long operation in Afghanistan to its conclusion. The U.S. does not have unlimited military resources, and other countries that demanded intervention should take responsibility and offer contributions rather than free-riding off of the United States.

The same idea was taken up by Dylan Ratigan on MSNBC at lunchtime yesterday. It including the additional suggestion that others in the "Coalition" ought to eventually issue a check for all the munitions the US military was expending to flatten Moe's defense.

Everyone who talks like this knows it's just chat for filling air time or print space.

First, it's immaterial whether or not America's military resources are not unlimited. For the sake of what's gone down in the last decade, they are treated as unlimited. And by extension the cash sack for war is unlimited.

There's no political will to change it and the populace, whether or not it supports endless war, has lost all democratic control over it. Serwer contributes stock bathwater, stuff anyone pickled in Beltway culture and dependent upon it to keep the paycheck coming, could write.

Because it's flogged as wisdom it's even kind of lousier than material, like this, written by Ted Nugent at the WaTimes yesterday:

"Africa is an international scab" and "Kill all those people [by flattening the area where Ghadafi lives in Tripoli] and get it over with."

Nugent, at least, has never been taken as much of a voice for the reasonable. Everyone knows he's the guy who tours rib shacks in the summer, shoots his mouth off on Internet-delivered conspiracy radio about the 'Mao Zedong fan club in the White House' and has had his hunting license revoked in California on an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.

Nugent, unlike Serwer and the other serious people writing on the war, can't be passed off as a maker of reasonable and polite arguments. And there's more honesty in that, although not by much.

In the Economic Treason series I've written of a thought experiment, one that imposed a tax on arms sales made by US companies, that money to be returned to the American people -- food stamp recipients -- as a dividend check.

For that story, here, the theoretical war tax dividend returned a check for $1,140.88 for everyone on food stamps.

In fifteen minutes over the weekend, the US military burned up well over $100 million in Tomahawks ($154 million was the high-ball figure), all of which will be replenished by Raytheon, a US arms manufacturer.

And today, it shot off another 24 Tomahawks, costing another 24 to 34 million.

We can posit at least a figure of, perhaps, $150 million a week for Odyssey Dawn average out after the initial surge, which extrapolates to 0.6 billion a month. Of course, it could be more because cost is never an object in the bottomless cash sack for war.

There are a couple variables. If the rebels continue to try and advance on Tripoli and the 'Coalition' is compelled to provide effective close air support to prevent them from being slaughtered by Moe's army, the costs go up. If Odyssey Dawn turns into just exercises in observational missions over geography with no air defense and occasional radar and flak suppression, it goes way down, offset by extra orders for drones from General Atomics.

Add to this 159.3 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Continuing in the thought exercise, assume Odyssey Dawn continues until the end of the year, for an outlay of 8-9 months equaling at least $5.4 billion. This seems absurdly low for a new American war but let's go with it for the sake of a conservative argument.

In any case, added to Iraq and Afghanistan, it comes to $164.7 billion.

The original war dividend tax here was 20 percent.

Clawing back twenty percent, as an example, from any check cut by the US government to Raytheon for replenishment of Tomahawk missiles seems quite reasonable. And this is because war has caused a continuous boom in arms-manufacturing in this country, growth and financial success not enjoyed by anyone else. (Except Wall St.)

It's aptly illustrated here by the much used by me illustration from the New York Times:

The war boom: Rewards and monumental profit for arms-manufacturing. The bottom of the barrel for everyone else.

Again, it's not unreasonable to make the argument that the stressed in the middle class ought to receive something back for the country's primary business product/export, one its taxes bankroll and grow. A 20 percent war dividend for 2011 might look like this:

20 percent of 247 billion in arms sales = $49 400 000 000.

20 percent of 164.7 billion for direct war = $32 940 000 000.

Total war dividend clawback = $82 340 000 000.

Bonus check cut for 49.3 million people on food stamps, adjustable for increases = $1670.18.

That's up $529.30 from the last exercise.

Such checks are not insubstantial to people who have just lost their jobs.

This video puts a human face to it:

(Hat tip to Pine View Farm for this item.)

The war dividend thought exercise shows that the tax clawback alone covers the so-called budget cuts in the posted video, cuts which will cost even more jobs. While the arms manufacturing plants get more orders.

The exercise is about bringing fairness to an argument about bombing Moe -- an argument that's essentially non-existent.

And because such an argument is not considered as anything but delusional outside the halls where very serious upper class people ruling the country reside, it can only be an exercise. Never happen. Instead, it's time to go ahead with giving everyone not involved in the machine of war hardship or the chop. Because the middle class has absolutely no say in the matter. In the biggest 'democracy' in the world.

"And of course, the cost of 'overseas contingency operations' will continue to rise, stressing both men (and women) and machines to the breaking point," writes J. at Armchair Generalist today. "The good news being, of course, that this means the US government can't possibly afford to cut defense funds now."

J. also illuminates the savings inherent in losing an old $30 million F-15 over Libya as opposed to a F-22, which costs $120 million.

Update: Fixing this is neither cheap nor easy. From the Associated Press:

Moammar Gadhafi's snipers and tanks are terrorizing civilians in the coastal city of Misrata, a resident said, and the U.S. military warned Tuesday it was "considering all options" in response to dire conditions there that have left people cowering in darkened homes and scrounging for food and rainwater.

This post was syndicated from Dick Destiny blog. Have something you'd like to say or see in Bombing Moe? Send an e-mail to webmaster at dickdestiny dot com.

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