Total Drek

Or, the thoughts of several frustrated intellectuals on Sociology, Gaming, Science, Politics, Science Fiction, Religion, and whatever the hell else strikes their fancy. There is absolutely no reason why you should read this blog. None. Seriously. Go hit your back button. It's up in the upper left-hand corner of your browser... it says "Back." Don't say we didn't warn you.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

The worst tragedies are those we bring upon ourselves.

Many of us have condemned the war in Iraq for a variety of reasons, but most of those center on its wastefulness. It has been wasteful of lives, of national honor, of goodwill from around the world, and of international resources. It is a particularly shameful waste in that, while dealing with the disaster of hurricane Katrina may be quite costly, the war in Iraq is a disaster that we deliberately purchased.

Yet, as wasteful as the war in Iraq is, it is difficult for any of us to truly grasp the scope of this debacle. The war in Iraq, in addition to wasting thousands of lives on all sides, and quite likely destabilizing the country for years to come, has been staggeringly costly in monetary terms. As of this moment, the war has cost over two-hundred and fifty billion dollars. That is a helluva lot of money. But how much is it really? I mean, my salary could charitably be described as low five-figures, and here I'm trying to grapple with the idea of a low twelve-figure price tag. How do I do that? How do I make that real?

Fortunately, I don't have to answer that question, because Zack "Geist Editor" Parsons over on Something Awful has done it for me. In his recent post, titled The Awesome Deferred, he indulges in a peculiar exercise: what might we have used that $250 billion for, had we not wasted it in Iraq? Many of his answers are, in a word, striking:

...Full ride 4-year college scholarships for 7,260,000 students

Alright, so it might be hard to actually find 7,260,000 people in America without degrees who are worthy of a 4-year scholarship, but that's no problem. We could just look outside the United States. We used to be really good at sucking all of the brains out of other crappy countries like some sort of doctor zombie. Their smart kids get knocked over the head by a recruiter and wake up as Americans attending a university in Boston.

If you're like me you haven't had a native born doctor since your pediatrician, but with the way things have been going Johns Hopkins is going to be opening franchises in Beijing and Calcutta. You're going to have Indian dudes cracking jokes about their crazy-talking American doctor, Paul Smith. There will be a class full of Chinese kids scratching their heads as Jennifer Johnson tries to teach them quantum physics. Why can't she just learn to speak Chinese?

That's right- instead of a pointless and bloody war in Iraq, we could have sent seven million students to college. How's that for "No Child Left Behind?" Put in those terms, can anyone doubt the magnitude of our failure? If we are the stewards of the future, we have served our inheritors very poorly.

Go read what he has to say and, if you feel like it, submit some ideas of your own for him to consider. What good could we have done with so much money? What bounty could we have made for humanity with that wealth?

Sadly, we may never really know. All we know for certain, is that whatever opportunity we had has been squandered.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Parsons is right. He's hostile and somewhat xenophobic, but he's right.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006 6:12:00 PM  
Blogger Drek said...

He's hostile and somewhat xenophobic...

As, it happens, am I.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006 6:02:00 PM  

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