Saturday, November 21, 2009

War Notes: November 21, 2009

Senator Carl Levin (D-Michigan) has proposed that the increased cost of the troop increases be paid by the wealthy. Levin proposes an upper bracket tax for those making more than $250,000 to shoulder the bill, rather than plunging the country further into debt. I am with him- in fact, this whole war should be paid for by spending cuts or tax increases, rather than the black hole deficit spending that so often accompanies war. There is no reason to treat this tragically meandering war differently than our disastrous healthcare system, yet in the case of the latter, the crocodile tears for the federal deficit have already stripped healthcare reform measures of their teeth.

"It's a sickness. Everybody is doing it." A local merchant thus described the corruption scene in Afghanistan. The LA Times has a great piece exploring how the culture of bribery affects people day to day. Did you know that the typical household has to spend about $100 on bribes just to get by? This goes to pay for things like business permits, police protection, and even passing high school exams. And $100 is no small chunk of change- more than half of Afghans survive on $1 a day or less. But I'm sure Karzai's "anti-corruption initiative" will fix all that.

The Associated Press takes on the corruption issue from a different angle. They tell the sad story of Khalid Khan, a road building entrepreneur kidnapped by Taliban-like criminals and held for a ransom sum that crippled his family. The story has a stinging depiction of the Chinese that Khan worked for, as well as the local government, and of course, the ruthless kidnappers, who may or may not be Taliban. A worthwhile read as well.

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