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Web Letter

1. When a US service member dies, the US Department of Defense (DoD) pays a death gratuity of $100,000. Not mentioned by Ms. Ehrenreich is that, in addition, nearly all (more than 95 percent) of US service members have life insurance in the amount of $400,000. These policies are administered by the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

Therefore, for the 4,077 US service members who died in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars through August 4, 2007, as reported by DoD, more than $2 billion was already paid by US taxpayers to the beneficiaries of our fallen.

2. There are now 300,000 US service members deployed to the two war zones, including those aboard ships and in neighboring nations.

Therefore, if all 300,000 were killed, at $500,000 each, then the cost would be $150 billion.

3. The total cost of the war for veterans, obtained using the Freedom of Information Act and utilizing the expertise of a Harvard University professor, is estimated at 700,000 wounded, injured, and ill who will need up to $700,000 in medical care and disability benefit payments over the next 40 years.

Hopefully, The Nation will contact subject matter experts to do fact checking in order to verify and improve the statistics reported in your columns.

For more information, please see our VA and DoD Fact Sheets.

Paul Sullivan

Washington, DC

Sep 4 2007 - 12:21pm

Web Letter

The CEO class justifies their pay by claiming that they bring in more added value to the company than an average worker does. The most disturbing thing about this argument is that the CEOs of many of our largest companies are plainly incompetent and should be put out to pasture, not be given ever-increasing salaries. GM is a prime example; first they put a bunch of finance guys in charge of making cars. Finance people are interested in making money, not cars. So they turned GM into a bank that makes cars on the side, mostly as a means to sell a loan.

Many apologists for GM claim the problem is that they have a huge financial obligation to former employees. Anybody with a pocket calculator should have been able to foresee the problem and do something about it. GM executives should have been on the forefront of socializing their obligation to provide medical care, but because you don’t get to be CEO of GM by rocking the boat, no one there was able to conceive that a fairly applied government administered healthcare system was part of the answer to making GM competitive again. That and making cars that people want to buy.

Larry King

Brooklyn, NY

Sep 3 2007 - 10:57pm