Paying for Mr. Bush’s War
By Doug Thompson
Call me quaint. We are in a ground war in Asia. I think, maybe, that even those of us who don’t have family members in the services should give up something.
I must be some kind of wimpy tax and spend liberal. Somehow, I think that proposing to spend $100 billion a year on Iraq and Afghanistan while making $300 billion a year in tax cuts permanent is both schizoprenic and obscene. Yet that is what the Decider tells us in his latest budget.
“My formula for a balanced budget reflects the priorities of our country at this moment in its history, protecting the homeland and fighting terrorism, keeping the economy strong with low taxes and keeping spending under control,” the Decider tells us.
Now, I hate to sound like a quibbler, but aren’t the pots in Iraq and Afghanistan boiling over because we tried to win them on the cheap?
As I recall, the most direct tax plan in history — the draft, a tax on your life — came about in this country during our civil war. The income tax was invented to help pay for World War I. Gasoline, among many other things, was rationed in World War II.
Now we’ve all heard about how growing the economy grows revenue. I’m no University of Chicago economist, but I’m suspicious that this plan might not work well when you’re bleeding money in the aforementioned ground war in Asia. This seems especially true when the spending levels seem clearly insufficient to winning the war.
There are new costs involved too — artificial limbs, rebuilding the military, the huge signing bonuses you have to pay to get people to join the military.
Mark my words: The trend toward balancing the budget, in part, by shortchanging wounded veterans will get much worse before it gets better.
Cursed with a limited imagination, I find it hard to believe that hundreds of billions of dollars wouldn’t help the war situation. Oh well. I guess I’ve already started to forget that you shouldn’t just throw money at a problem. All you help is Halliburton, anyway.
Support our troops. Buy more little yellow magnetic ribbon stickers.
Enough gloom, though. Let’s look at the bright side of resignation to defeat as a cost-cutting measure.
The Army, the Marines and the reserve forces will benefit in future budget debates. Stealth bombers are nice, but haven’t seemed that cost effective when the enemy doesn’t have radar.
We get to keep our tax cuts.
We get to keep our cheap energy policy. This is still good news for Toyota. American car manufacturers ineptitude has surpassed our ability to prop them up, however.
The danger of a 50-cent to $1 per gallon tax on gasoline appears remote. This is the measure that would not only help finance the war but would hurt the flow of money to many people who finance our enemies. Help our troops while hurting theirs. What a radical idea.
Such a tax would devastate our economy, I’m told. Our economy depends on energy. If that’s true, then we’re never getting off that dependence at this rate. Our economy is dependent on a part of the world where many, many people hate us and want us dead. Perhaps we ought to look at changing that.
Has anyone considered the absurdity of pouring billions of dollars into alternative fuels while going bankrupt in a war that destroyed the only sizable counterweight to Iran, which is threatening our oil supply? Wouldn’t a floor on the price of oil, enforced through a tax, put more private money into developing alternatives?
As I’ve said before, if this country could send a nuclear-powered carrier task force to the Strait of Hormuz and announce that the oil exports would resume as soon as Osama bin Laden’s severed head was brought to us, the war on terror would be over.
One last thought on the importance of oil: The Afghan economy depends on opium. At least their addictive export doesn’t threaten the future habitability of the planet. You can grow more, too. Poppies are a renewable resource.
All kidding aside: This war has been fought by raising the “life tax” of the people who have been deployed on active duty. They and their families “pay” that tax in years beyond what they signed up for. The idea of making tax cuts for money while allowing the “life tax” to keep rising is indefensible.
AT&T TV- Alphabet soup on cable coming
Looks like Fayettvillians are up for their once-a-decade cable TV service franchise challenge. Does AT&T, a techno-newcomer, have a chance at unseating the once seemingly pristine Cox Cable? Does anyone remember Warner Cable? Or it’s predecessor? Well Daddy W. does and every time the city regulated cable TV franchise is up for renewal or bid throw caution, reliability, service and common sense to the four winds. The cable folks always have lots of promises, more money and more political grit than most any other supplier for the city. Citizens—the average Joe of cable TV if you will—are left far out in the cold. Some cable companies will pander to the city’s Government Channel requirements; others will try to link up with CAT; and some will, as they have in the past link up with the ministers of the TV airwaves to exert political and voter pressure to put those TV preachers on the lower channels so those without the premium rates can watch souls saved 24 hours a day. So the circus is coming to town as they open the AT&T TV
debate. And remember folks, one of the elected aldermen, is a AT&T, SW Bell retiree…that should make Bobby Ferrell’s vote a rather interesting one.
Bye, Bye Bakery
Over a decade ago, Cindy and Cary Arsaga brought coffeehouse culture to Northwest Arkansas with a coffeehouse next to a bookstore on Block Avenue in downtown Fayetteville. The bookstore closed and the Arsaga’s moved the coffeehouse to another location on Block and added a bakery—The Block Street Bakery. Over the years, the Arsaga’s have opened other coffeehouses in Northwest Arkansas—Arsaga’s on Gregg, Arsaga’s on Crossover, Arsaga’s at the Fayetteville Public Library and Arsaga’s at Washington Regional Medical Center. At the end of February, the Arsaga’s will close the Block Street Bakery and will concentrate on the other Arsaga’s locations. Word on the street is another bakery may move into the Block Street Bakery location. Stay tuned. A downtown spot like this will sorely be missed.
Springdale seems to be checking out the cable competition as the city council recently passed an ordinance seeking information on switching cable providers. A giant ad for TV4US and a website for www.wewantchoice.com and a toll free number seems primed to be another cable provider for Springdale. Maybe there are not enough church re-broadcasts on Cox to suit the residents of north Washington County.
Vermont’s loss is Fayetteville’s gain
The closing of a Standard Register plant in Middlebury, Vermont is catching the eye of the Standard Register folks here. With only 140 jobs now here at Fayetteville, SR is one of the oldest industrial jobs around. The 112 posts leaving Vermont will possibly add half-a-dozen jobs
here, officials speculate. Better to gain jobs than to lose jobs.
Yes, it’s true. McDonald’s will begin using a trans-fat-free oil to cook their signature French fries. Let’s hope the taste remains the same without all the fat.
Locals do well
The November Fayetteville A&P tax numbers for restaurant revenue (late again) are out. No. 1 was Sodexho (UA campus and Razorback Stadium); 2. Olive Garden; 3. Chartwell’s (UA dining halls); 4, Golden Corral; and 5 Chick-Fil-A. Spots 6-10 went to Red Lobster, Noodle’s, McDonald’s on 6th Street, Bordino’s and Penguin Ed’s BBQ. Looks like the locals did well hanging with the chain stores.
Tyson Foods shows a profit – albeit a small one – $57 million – after a trio of quarters of losses – deep losses. President and CEO Richard L. Bond, who is not a Tyson Family member, spoke courageously on the profit. “Tough times make us stronger.” Let’s hope so.
Roby Brock the business TV guru has moved to KFTA Fox 24 at 10 a.m. Sunday mornings. His show, which capsules business news in Arkansas, can also be found at www.talkbusiness.net.
Big News, Well Maybe
Does Toyota plus Marion, Ark., equal success for the economic future of Arkansas? Let’s hope so. But watch out, if a Toyota announcement happens former Gov. Mike Huckabee might be a hard guy to wrestle the podium away from at any groundbreaking ceremony.