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Name: Antony Loewenstein
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Saturday, September 24, 2005

Enough is enough

This appeared in the Washington Post on September 22, page A23:

"The Pentagon has no accurate knowledge of the cost of military operations in Iraq, Afghanistan or the fight against terrorism, limiting Congress's ability to oversee spending, the Government Accountability Office concluded in a report released yesterday."

Let me get this straight. The report found "inadvertent double accounting" by the Navy and Marine Corps and inaccuracies totalling billions of dollars. "Neither DOD nor Congress can reliably know how much the war is costing and details of how appropriated funds are being spent," the report to Congress stated.

Columbia Journalism Review's Gal Beckerman wonders why such a story is buried and why such figures aren't causing newspaper editors to investigate much further:

"Perhaps newspaper editors have become insensitive to the idea of a few billion dollars misplaced or, worse, just missing. But from the looks of things down south, with New Orleans in ruins and Hurricane Rita barrelling toward land with 165 mph winds, the federal government is going to need every cent it can find."

Meanwhile, back in fantasy land, the Sydney Morning Herald today leads with this: "Biggest ever surplus: now for tax cuts." The paper ends the article like so:


What to do with the surplus:

- Business: cut the top tax rate and capital gains tax.

- Labor: tax relief for middle-income earners.

- Motorists: cheaper petrol.

- Access Economics: save it for when we need it.

In a different part of the paper, there is an extensive examination of global environmental degradation.

Clearly the Sydney Morning Herald sees no contradiction in both these stories. Tax relief may win votes, but environmental destruction could eventually kill any children born through the baby bonus. It's time for responsible journalists and editors to wake up and join the dots.


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