By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
Curb Defense Spending
The best jump-start cure for recession is war. It also provides the rationale for getting Congress to OK spending for items it otherwise would have sense enough to block. Using the campaign against terror as an excuse, Bush is expected to ask for a $32 billion Pentagon budget in February. Bill Hartung, a defense expert at New York's World Policy Institute, has pulled together these eye-opening figures on the costs of war so far:
Basic war expenses per month: $1 billion
Missile defense: $8.3 billion
New nuclear submarine: $1 billion
Twenty-two new fighter planes: $3 billion
Crusader artillery system: $1 billion
Altogether, the U.S. is now shelling out $360 billion for war efforts, according to Hartung. Who profits? Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Boeing, and Raytheon. The four contracts split about $35 billion a year from the Pentagon, but Boeing makes out especially well. For the nine-month period ending September 30, sales increased 16 percent to $42.5 billion. Net income rose 66 percent to $2.73 billion. The company handed CEO Phil Condit a salary of $18.7 million. Meanwhile, Boeing earmarked 30,000 jobs to be cut.
Buy DrugsIt's Patriotic
Last year the federal government spent $17 billion on the war against drugs, while state and local governments were estimated to have put up another $30 million. As a result, more drugs than ever before were flooding into the U.S. and our prisons were crammed to overflowing with people convicted on drug charges. The one bright spot in this sorry program was the Taliban's successful drive to stop farmers from growing poppies. We rewarded this effort by blasting them back to the Stone Age.
Meanwhile our surrogates, the Northern Alliance, had increased their opium production during the Taliban crackdown and now are poised to flood the world with even more opium. Those who like to say the CIA put drugs on American streets need look no further than our heroic allies for a slam-dunk example. What's next? Look for more funding of the war against drugs and more drugs flooding the streets. Just remember, buying drugs is like buying stock. Buying stock helps make America strong. Buying dope is the best (and cheapest) way to help Afghanistan recover.
Stop The Drilling
Again at war in the Middle East, the U.S. could decide to get real about investing in alternative fuels. Instead, George W. Bush continues to lust after oil reserves in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Bush's brand of leadership threatens to set off a pell-mell drive by the big oil and gas producers, who want to suck every last bit of petroleum out of the outer continental shelf and drill deep gas wells in the Rocky Mountains. Taking over what they don't already own of Canada's oil and gas industry, along with buying off the Mexicans, will come next. And the sleeper will be a dramatic increase in liquefied natural gas traffic from foreign ports. LNG tankers are floating bombs, an inviting target for any terrorist.
The Senate has blocked Alaskan drilling for the moment, and Russian president Vladimir Putin is offering Siberia's vast resources at bargain-basement rates. But you can make more money ripping up the homefront, so get ready to fight.