The Watch

The Watch is concerned about the increasing pressure towards feudalism in the United States from corporations, social regressives, warmongers, and the media. We also are concerned with future history concerning our current times, as non-truths which are “widely reported” become the basis for completely false narratives.

Friday, January 17, 2003

Millions and Billions: A rule of thumb

How much does a $10 million dollar program cost you? Should you be upset that the Pentagon has "misplaced" billions of our dollars? (Maybe they should look under the couch cushions). I've always been amazed that the media provides no useful context for the money numbers they bandy about when discussing policy - nothing to hold it to the real world. I've tried to come up with my own rule of thumb, but I'd be interested in hearing your thoughts on it, (my numbers are probably full of holes) Or finding out what your rule of thumb is, if you have one.

Anyway, so here is my rule of thumb. I start with the assumption that there are ~275 million americans, and that there are roughly 2.75 people per taxpaying household in the US. Therefore, there are about 100 million taxpaying households in the US. Therefore, each million that something costs the feds costs each household about an average of one cent. So, I reason, and realizing it is just averages, a million dollar government program costs me one penny. A 100 million dollar a year program costs me a dollar a year. A billion dollar program costs me $10 - and now you are starting to catch my cheapskate attention.

Bush, the anti-Robin Hood, says his latest lavish give away to the super rich will cost on the order of $675 billion dollars over 10 years. The government will therefore need to take about 7,000 of my dollars over that time to make up the shortfall. Or it could go into deficit spending (and I will have to pay that much, plus interest, later). Or it could cut back its spending. None of these options is attractive or makes any sense. Will the media lay it out this way? No.

Propaganda watch

Thanks to David for this article, which briefly describes a government "media blitz" against, oh, I mean, aimed at Muslims. The $15 million program (only 15 cents from me, I guess I don't mind too much) is designed to fool Muslims in other countries about how wonderfully Muslims in our country are treated. I hope we do treat Muslims in our country with the respect that every person deserves. But maybe we could try fostering some goodwill in the Muslim world by not bombing the crap out of them and saber-rattling all the time. Just a thought. See "U.S. Propaganda Pitch Halted".

Right to Choose Watch

Thanks to Melissa for this article, which describes Bush's "National Sanctity Of Life" Day, timed to coincide with the anniversary of Roe v. Wade. The irony is so raucously over the top here, I don't even know where to begin. Perhaps with the sanctity of the all of those lives that Dubya saw fit to snuff out on Texas's death row (but who did, after all, have the benefit of Texas's famously competent public defenders and just legal system). Perhaps with the sanctity of all of those lives, American and Iraqi, which Shrub is just itching to extinguish (for what? The only logical rationale for this war is Iraqi oil). Perhaps with the sanctity of the life of the serviceman who had to take W's place in Vietnam when he was placed into the Texas Air National Guard after scoring the lowest acceptable score on the pilot exam, then deserted his post during wartime. Perhaps with the sanctity of all of the innocent Afghan lives we took while making that country safe for the oil pipeline which is being built there. Anyway, more pandering to his hard right base. It will be interesting to see what Dubya does now that the Republicans control all three branches of federal government. He might try to repeal abortion rights, which I hope he does not, but it would certainly be political suicide to do it. On the other hand, the Republicans have been cynically flogging this issue with the religious right for so many years that now they don't have any excuse not to repeal abortion rights. They are a bit damned if they do and damned if they don't, and being caught in this trap couldn't happen to a nicer bunch of hypocrites. See "Bush declares a National Sanctity of Life Day".

Class Warfare Watch

Paul Krugman absolutely hits one out of the park today. First, he compares Bushco to an alcoholic falling off the wagon. Then, he hits them with their broken campaign promises and the bogus "trifecta" lie. Then he rips the Red Ink Republicans for mortgaging our future, then rips them more on North Korea. I could go on and on - well, just read the article. As so many of us do when we read Krugman's articles, I hope he stays off of small planes. Off the Wagon.

Here is an earlier article from Slate about the recent idea to make it seem like the working poor don't pay enough taxes. Just watch this meme run! Meme Watch: Bushies Take the Bait

Humor Watch

Thanks to Gary for the picture above, which had me ROTFL.

Daily Watch

Also, please remember to visit Media Whores Online. They have been on fire lately! Bob Somerby has also been excellent. Look for his description of Bush's BOLD cheerleaders this week.

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