What would you do with 162 billion dollars? I know, I'd spend it on more war in Iraq and Afghanistan. Oh, wait, no...
Seriously. Our government throwing money numbers like that around makes me a wee bit sick to my stomach. $162 billion. That's Scrooge McDuck-style money, the sort you can put in a pile and swim in. That is more than a number of countries' Gross Domestic Product for 2007. Headlines like this are slowly turning me into a liberal (which should please my libraryworld colleagues, who consider me a wee bit of a fascist for my conservative notions).
Consider this: every single university that I have read about or spoken to colleagues and Twitter acquaintances about is about to be on an austerity budget, losing money from their legislatures so the government can attempt to keep itself afloat. We are slicing the jobs of education workers and throwing a bajagazillion (which $162B might as well be) at our incompetent mushmouth of a President. *sigh*
If this money were all to go toward equipping our troops in non-craptastic gear and other equipment, I would tell them to sign yesterday, and be fine about it. I will never forget the stories my little (ok, now very large but still younger) brother told me about equipment failure, like how he and his fellow Marines got back to base one night but found that a taillight from their truck had fallen off in the desert, and they had to backtrack without lights to find it. Or how one of their mailtrucks got shredded by shrapnel, so a number of much-needed care packages were incinerated. He doesn't talk about the more bloody things, but I'm quite sure there are any number of soldiers' lives that could have been saved or improved upon with those armored vehicles the government was a wee bit late in sending over.
But I doubt that's the sort of thing the umpbillion dollars will be spent on. No, I expect more contracts to go to Halliburton subsidiaries that allow for the rape of female contractors instead of to equipment to protect our men and women. And I hate that I'm that jaded.
On a brighter note, the fact that the bill got passed means that they're likely to tack on and approve an addendum that allows for increased education benefits for post-9/11 veterans that will afford them tuition equal to the highest-costing in-state public institution plus a housing stipend. Yeah, how generous of the government to finally get around to passing something to help out the men and women who risk life and limb for the wars borne of armchair quarterbacking politicians. It's about fracking time.