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December 2, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review March 14, 2013 / 3 Nissan, 5773

The nation-building follies

By A. Barton Hinkle




http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | In a week, America will mark the 10th anniversary of the invasion of Iraq. That colossal mistake — more than 100,000 killed in a war over nonexistent WMDs — has cost America dearly: nearly 4,500 troop fatalities, and more than three-quarters of a trillion dollars.

Sixty billion of that sum has gone to rebuild Iraq. ("You break it, you own it," as Colin Powell famously said.) According to the final report from Stuart Bowen — the inspector general overseeing Iraqi reconstruction — much of that outlay, too, has been a colossal waste.

Hundreds of projects that were started years ago now sit unfinished and abandoned. Others that have been finished hardly seem worth the cost — e.g., a $108-million waste treatment facility in Fallujah that will serve only 9,000 homes. The voluminous report is filled with details such as those concerning Anham, a defense contractor that billed the federal government $80 for a 4-inch PVC plumbing elbow — which is "5,574% more than a competitor's offer of $1.41."

Small wonder, then, if audiences applaud at President Obama's frequent assertion that "it is time to focus on nation-building here at home" — to "take the money we're no longer spending at war" and use it "to rebuild America."

Sounds great in theory. Just one small problem, though: America's record at domestic nation-building isn't much better.

Take disaster relief. Ten months after Katrina devastated New Orleans in 2005, The New York Times reported that reconstruction efforts had led to "one of the most extraordinary displays of scams, schemes, and stupefying bureaucratic bungles in modern history, costing taxpayers up to $2 billion ... in fraud and waste." That sum represented "nearly 11 percent of the $19 billion spent to date." Even worse, the GAO estimated "as much as 21 percent" of direct aid to victims "had been improperly distributed."

"The blatant fraud, the audacity of the schemes, the scale of the waste — it is just breathtaking," lamented Maine Sen. Susan Collins at the time. There was more to come. By 2009, the FBI reported upwards of 1,300 people had been indicted on Katrina-related offenses — and more indictments were still rolling in.

But waste, fraud and abuse are not limited to emergencies. Improper payments for Medicare alone total $60 billion a year — as much as the U.S. has shelled out in Iraqi reconstruction grants over the past decade. Even more remarkable, the $60 billion tab for improper payments is five times what the experts once predicted the entire Medicare program would cost. In 1967, forecasters expected Medicare to cost a mere $12 billion by 1990, according to Veronique de Rugy of George Mason University's Mercatus Center. The real 1990 cost was $98 billion — and today it is five times that.

Such wild overruns are not at all unusual. Planners for Boston's Big Dig anticipated it would cost $2.6 billion. Final tab: more than $20 billion. The F-22 Raptor originally was budgeted at $139 million per plane. Today's total: more than $400 million per unit. In 2008, California's "bullet train" was sold to voters as a $33 billion project. Within three years the bill had reached nearly $100 billion.

Doesn't anything ever come in on time and under budget? Sure. It happens. But De Rugy cites an exhaustive, 20-nation study by Danish researchers that shows nine out of 10 public projects blow past original cost estimates.

And sometimes, all the taxpayers get for the voluminous sums is a giant goose egg. The Obama administration's bad bet on Solyndra will cost taxpayers more than a half-billion dollars, for instance. And that's chump change compared with the Carter administration, which sank $88 billion (almost a quarter- trillion, in today's dollars) into the ill-fated Synthetic Fuels Corporation. (History to Carter: You didn't build that.)

Liberals harp on the military boondoggles, holding them up as proof of the perfidy inherent in the military-industrial complex. Conservatives gloat over social-welfare fraud, treating it as proof that the entire system is a scam to rip off hard-working taxpayers. The larger truth is more sobering: Metastasis in government programs does not obey partisan boundaries.

In trying to explain what happened in Iraq, inspector-general Stuart Bowen last week said the reconstruction effort "grew to a size much larger than was ever anticipated," and "not enough was accomplished for the size of the fund expended." You could say the same about the federal government itself.

Bowen's report contains excerpts from interviews with those who were involved in the reconstruction of Iraq, such as Qubad Talabani, the son of Iraqi president Jalal Talabani: "You think if you throw money at a problem, you can fix it," Talabani says. It also quotes Deputy Secretary of State Thomas Nides: "Those in Iraq who developed and implemented the rebuilding program intended well, but good intentions don't always produce good results."

Maybe he should put that in a memo to the president. Because the lessons learned in Iraq should lead to a greater degree of humility when Washington contemplates its next big nation-building project — whether overseas, or right here at home.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

A. Barton Hinkle is Deputy Editor of the Editorial Pages at Richmond Times-Dispatch Comment by clicking here.


Previously:




03/12/13: Will the right come around on pot?
03/07/13: Another U.S. dupe falls for a dictator
02/28/13: How dare you say that here!
02/26/13: Eating Frito-Lay chips at gunpoint
02/20/13: Death Star petitions are just what we need
02/13/13: ObamaCare proves law correct --- deep down you knew it would
01/29/13: It's Time to Get Judgy About Incompetency
01/23/13: Look who's mocking fascist fear-mongering now
01/16/13: Only in Washington could you get away with referring to spending and tax increases as spending 'cuts'
01/09/13: Obama begins his second term, Bush's fourth
01/07/13: Who's Attacking the Constitution Now?
01/03/13: Why, historically, January is the perfect time to debate the filibuster
12/26/12: When libs devalue diversity
12/20/12: Mark Your Calendars
12/13/12: Gun control, ad infinitum
12/11/12: Fracking can help fix the CO2 problem
12/06/12: Let's open the door to lots more immigration
12/04/12: Who's watching the kids? Just about everyone
11/29/12: The Real Middle-Class Champion was Mocked and Opposed
11/26/12: It's time to cut a deal on the budget
11/20/12: The case for a carbon tax
11/15/12: Cue the hysterics. Reports of Democracy's Death Greatly Exaggerated
11/07/12: The $4,000 Trash Can: We need regulation, but not this much
10/23/12: The Ballad of Islamist Rage Boy
10/17/12: Undermining the values that enable people in poverty to escape it? Sadly, yes
10/11/12: How Much Is This Tax Cut Gonna Cost Me, Doc?
10/04/12: Warrantless spying skyrockets under Obama
08/20/12: The wrong side absolutely must not win
08/14/12: America was not built on dirt alone
08/02/12: Libs Discover Their Inner Cheney
07/30/12: Feds want to help you --- whether you want help or not
07/23/12: Barack Obama, Storyteller-in-Chief
07/23/12: Nation's worst outsourcer? You
07/19/12: Listen up, America: You need to knuckle under
07/12/12: Obama, Romney: As Different as Two Peas in a Pod
07/05/12: Are teenagers big children --- or little adults?
06/25/12: Minorities treated as mere numbers
06/21/12: Memo to the the Little Guy: Seemingly innocuous activity could bring the federal hammer down out of a clear blue sky
06/19/12: We mustn't let America be buffaloed
05/31/12: Drop and Give Uncle Sam 20
05/15/12: The feds would like to know if you enjoyed that video
05/03/12: Obama inspires: 'America --- Still Not as Bad Off as Venezuela!'
04/26/12: It's everyone's favorite time of year again
03/29/12: GOP disillusionment is a good thing
03/27/12: Just what America needs: more red tape
03/20/12: Nation wondering: what happening to language?
02/21/12: Culture warriors resort to propaganda
02/15/12: Step away from that cookie and grab some air
02/08/12: Lessons in heresy
02/01/12: Do We Really Need Pickle-Flavored Potato Chips?
01/11/12: Shut up, they explained
12/30/11: A Modest Proposal: Let's Ban All Sports!
12/26/11: A Christmas letter from the Obamas
02/24/11: Will the next Watson need us?
12/24/10: Here Are Some Good Gifts for People You Hate
06/15/10: The Presinator
05/26/10: More than equal
04/08/10: Angry Right Takes a Page From Angry Left but guess who is ‘ugly’?
02/16/10: Either Obama owes George W. Bush an apology, or he owes the rest of us a very good explanation for his about-face on wiretapping
02/03/10: Talkin' to us 'tards
01/27/10: I never thought I'd see the day when progressives would howl in ragebecause the Supreme Court said government should not ban books
01/07/10: Gun-Control Advocates Play Fast and Loose
12/31/09: Nearly everything progressives say about neoconservative interventionism abroad applies to their own preferred policies at home





© 2011, A. Barton Hinkle

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