...I'm okay with being REALITY-based.

Thursday, October 16, 2003
      ( 3:31 PM )
In Case You Couldn't Find Anything
To Make You Angry This Week

Reading one of my favorites today, I came across this article in Guerilla News Network. Looks like while Bush is asking us for $87billion to modernize Iraq's infrastructure, he's once again giving us... the shaft.

Talk about sticker shock. The condition of the country
was far worse than anyone dared imagine. Engineers
released their findings this September and, using a
grammar school grading system, they assigned grades
to describe the state of disrepair they found.

The country's roads got a D+. Aviation infrastructure
got a D. Schools a D minus. Wastewater treatment
facilities, a D. Dams, a D. Hazardous waste storage
a D+. And, even though the nation is a major oil
producer, the energy sector got a D+.

In all, the experts said it would take more than
$1.6 trillion over the next five years to bring the
country's infrastructure up to modern standards.

Oh, wait. I bet you thought I was talking about Iraq.

No. The report I am citing was released this
September by the American Society of Civil Engineers
and it described the condition of America's infrastructure
In it, the ASCE warned that America's critical
infrastructure was "crumbling" and ongoing neglect
would add $300 billion a year to the repair bill.

Bush made a big deal in his campaign about how it's not our job to fix the problems of the world. He swept into office on what seemed like a very isolationist viewpoint and lots of people thought he would do a lot of work on domestic issues. But that wasn't the PNAC's plan. So here we are. Our government is using taxpayer dollars to award multi-million contracts exclusively to American companies to improve the infrastructure of Iraq:

So, as you bump your way to work today on
pothole-studded streets understand that the
cost of your new suspension is a small price
to pay for the smooth 1,200-kilometer highway
being built in Afghanistan on a $300 million
contract to U.S. engineering firm Louis Berger

Then there's the $240 million earmarked to
improve Iraq's roads and bridges. And, even
as the Bush administration fights subsidies
for Amtrak, another $303 million in U.S. funds
is going to upgrade Iraq's railroads. Bechtel
will oversee much of this work.

But wait! It's not just roads and bridges where we aren't getting improvement and Iraq is - its in our general safety and security too!

Ten years ago, President Bill Clinton pushed
legislation to put more cops on the street. The
Bush administration has since eliminated all
direct funding for street cops. Now, with money
short and so many military reservists—many of
whom are cops in civilian life—on active duty,
cities and counties find themselves dangerously
short of police, fire and other first responders.

Nevertheless, while American law enforcement
goes begging, the administration has been
generous in letting contracts to rebuild Iraq's civil
and military policing. There is the $2 billion to
build a new Iraqi army and another $470 million to
fund civilian police, judges, courts and related law
enforcement services. U.S.-based DynCorp and its
parent company, Computer Sciences Corp., are the
prime contractors here.

The irony here isn't necessarily that Iraq is getting our money. It's larger than that, this is about the very core issues we as a country are facing right now. Namely, our economy and the basic survival of working people in this nation:

And so we are left to ponder. America's
infrastructure is a mess and getting worse.
Instead of spending the additional $25 billion
needed to repair it, the administration is
handing nearly the same amount in contracts
out to a small number of U.S. companies to
repair Iraq's infrastructure instead. Had that
money been allocated for U.S. infrastructure
the contracts would have been, by law, subject
to open bidding and would therefore have been
divvied up among hundreds of companies, small
and large, across the country. In the old days,
they called that a domestic economic stimulus plan

So much for this president caring about creating jobs... or caring about this country, period.

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