Friday, September 03, 2004

Who's responsible for this mess, anyway?

I am repeatedly stunned by the failure of people to keep clearly in their minds the cause and effect relation between the enormous COSTS of the attack of 9/11 and the continuing reverberations of those costs throughout the world economy.

Within days after the attack, I recall newscasters mentioning immediate costs estimated to surpass 50 BILLION dollars. This presumably included the planes, insurance costs for the lives lost, interruption to financial markets, several hundred businesses and their revenues, firetrucks, ambulances, buses, taxis, private vehicles, damages to neighboring buildings, medical costs for injured and survivors, et cetera. Loss of just the two towers with something approaching 13 MILLION square feet of prime business berthing represented a considerable fraction of the AAA office space available in Manhattan.

Since those first few days, we have seen the travel and recreation industries (airlines, travel agencies, hotels & resorts, cruise lines, etc.) suffer huge losses in revenues from canceled tours and individual travel plans because of people's nervousness about future terrorist attacks. And of course, all those hesitations and deferred purchases caused widening ripples to spread throughout the world economy. Unlike ripples on the surface of a pond, they do not diminish in power with the square of distance from the source.

More recently, a figure on the order of one TRILLION dollars is being mentioned as the total cost to the U.S. economy directly attributable to the WTC attacks. I take that to mean these are costs and expenses we would not have experienced if the 9/11 attacks had not occurred.

If that figure is close to within a margin of error of, say, plus or minus a third, then the blame for any current economic difficulty is clearly attributable to the TERRORISTS, not to any fumbling by the policies of George Bush. If any administration is to be blamed, it should be Clinton's, for the ineffectual and gutless policies that for 8 full years demonstrated to the terrorists that they could depend on suffering no consequences for continuing their terrorist attacks. The current Democratic candidate has vowed to continue and extend those discredited policies of indecision, wavering, and limp-wristed cringing.

We didn't really need Democrat Zell Miller to tell us that in two decades serving as a senator John Kerry consistently voted against funding weapons systems that now form the armamentarium of the United States. But it underscores the notoriously partisan stance taken by the Old Media that they simply refused to air Kerry's record for scrutiny by the public they claim to serve. That cynically calculated duplicity does much to erode what little goodwill remains for an institution that is seen to have long ago sold its soul to the Democrats.

The weapons systems and the American military personnel that have volunteered to serve are now engaged finding and subduing terrorists who continue to intimidate, abduct, and murder innocent people, including citizens of countries that criticized and condemned the U.S. for daring to fight terrorism; citizens, whose governments it should be noted, go on timidly acquiescing to demands of bastards who repudiate civilized standards. Such cravens are in profound denial.

In a way, the United States could be criticized for serving so long as an "enabler" (if you will indulge the use of the pop-psychology terms.) In the reconstruction period immediately following World War Two, it was clear that Germany and many of the countries the Nazis had ravaged, would not be able to survive without massive aid. This prompted the U.S. to launch the Marshall Plan, which pumped American treasure and expertise into Europe on an unprecedented scale. It effectively prevented the collapse of several tottering governments that would not have lasted through that harsh winter. Then, responding to growing predations by Russia and it's post-war puppet allies, the U.S. and a handful of western European countries formed NATO. The U.S. troops that were maintained in Germany between the end of the war and the fall of the Soviet Union, served as a "speed bump/trigger mechanism" to discourage adventurism by the Warsaw Pact nations. The cost of that deterrence was born mostly by the U.S. and continues to the present day.

Maybe we should have weaned those countries a little earlier, to let them begin practicing the responsible behavior reality requires of a self-sufficient (and self-respecting) nation.

To date, the cost of waging war on the Taliban and Saddam, both in terms of lost American lives and the direct expenses of the military expedition, according to even the newspapers that castigate Bush regularly, has not surpassed the losses incurred by that single day's attack on the U.S. Even if the cost has been substantially greater, it is clear that the expenses of challenging the terrorists are preferable to the costs of dumbly awaiting their un-challenged and un-hindered moves.

So, to return to the opening of this rant, if our economy is not performing up to desired levels of prosperity, please keep in mind that it is the attacks, and the cost of rooting out terrorism, and the costs of security measures at home, that burden our economy as it nonetheless recovers. Don't try to tell me it's George's fault.

--- David March

a few relevant URLs: ChatToday


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