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Web Letter

Who needs to spend $700 billion? I have put together a plan of my own that will not require any taxpayer money.

1. Sell the Iraq War. It is a used war, a clunker with heavy mileage, to be sure. But we could get $10 billion a month for it. Maybe we could throw in some statues and paintings of Saddam Hussein, slightly damaged, to sweeten the deal, along with vintage photographs showing the location of Iraq’s WMDs, signed by Colin Powell.

2. Unload the war against the Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan. Cut a deal with those bearded gentlemen to share the opium trade in Afghanistan. After all, we were partners with them before when they were fighting the Soviets. We can't stop the opium trade, and big profits can be made from it, so why shouldn't Americans get some of it? It worked for the British in the nineteenth century. (See "Opium Wars.")

3. Reject the options on potential derivative wars with Pakistan and Iran. They are over-leveraged, and will suck away scarce capital. Besides, to fight more wars, we need an army. That old Victorian music hall ditty comes to mind: “We don’t want to fight, but by jingo if we do, we’ve got the ships, we’ve got the men, and we’ve got the money, too.” We just need to update it a bit, as follows: “We would love to fight, but by golly if we do, we’ll need more cash, we’ll need more men, and we’ll need the Girl Scouts, too.” Of course, we can also arm Dick Cheney.

4. Sell golden parachutes. We produce an abundance of those, of the best variety; in fact, they may soon be the only thing the United States produces, besides debt and worthless paper. We are global specialists in that line; no one can beat us. Every golden parachute should come with a free dunce cap, in three sizes: small cap, mid cap and large cap.

5. Stop outsourcing jobs we can do perfectly well at home, such as torture. The Bush rendition plan has let these prize jobs go to countries with authoritarian regimes or has given them to our military and CIA overseas. Keep the work here in the land of opportunity. Having watched some documentaries on the topic, I am convinced anybody can do it. Besides reducing unemployment at home, keeping the jobs here will also save the jet fuel now used to fly the suspected terrorists to remote points of the globe. Win, win.

6. Hollywood to the rescue. American films make big money abroad. We need films that will get people’s minds off their troubles, as the big dance and musical numbers did in the last depression. May I suggest a musical farce of the old story, "The Boy Who Cried Wolf"? Soon-to-be-unemployed George Bush would be a natural to play the boy. Members of Congress could play the simple villagers who are continually deceived by the boy. Suggested director: Donald Rumsfeld. Previous hits: Happy Iraqi Days! and Fast Times at Abu Graib.

7. Exploit wind power and natural gas to cut American dependence on foreign oil and help the environment. This country is blessed with many sources of wind and gas: politicians, sportscasters, evangelical preachers, car salesmen, and Bill O’Reilly.

8. Put the unemployed to work, starting with former Wall Street CEOs. We may have to give some of them welfare. But we should at least put them on treadmills, as in the old Victorian workhouses. We could connect the treadmills to electric generators so they can produce energy.

peter mccandless

Charleston, SC

Oct 13 2008 - 12:32am