Thursday, April 27, 2006


From The Scotsman:

AMERICANS spend as much on "plastic Santa Clauses and tinsel" and other Christmas decorations as they do on their military, the United States Army's top general said yesterday.

Lamenting at complaints by some about high defence spending, Gen Peter Schoomaker, the chief of staff, told reporters: "I don't understand. What's the problem?"

Gen Schoomaker said the defence budget the Bush administration requested this year -- nearly $440 billion (£246 billion), not including the costs of war in Iraq and Afghanistan -- was just over 3 per cent of the nation's economy.

"What do you think we spent on plastic Santa Clauses and tinsel and all this stuff for Christmas last year?" he asked reporters. "The answer is $438.5 billion, roughly equivalent to the defence budget...."

In fact, Americans spend only about $8 billion a year on Christmas and Hanukkah decorations.

And as for the the cost of the wars:

The cost of the war in Iraq will reach $320 billion after the expected passage next month of an emergency spending bill currently before the Senate, and that total is likely to more than double before the war ends, the Congressional Research Service estimated this week....

Once the war spending bill is passed, military and diplomatic costs will have reached $101.8 billion this fiscal year, up from $87.3 billion in 2005, $77.3 billion in 2004 and $51 billion in 2003, the year of the invasion, congressional analysts said. Even if a gradual troop withdrawal begins this year, war costs in Iraq and Afghanistan are likely to rise by an additional $371 billion during the phaseout, the report said, citing a Congressional Budget Office study. When factoring in costs of the war in Afghanistan, the $811 billion total for both wars would have far exceeded the inflation-adjusted $549 billion cost of the Vietnam War.

That's a lot of tinsel.


(If he's talking about all spending at Christmas, the number he's looking for is $439 billion. But that appears to be all retail spending during the holiday season, which would include laundry detergent you buy at Target in December while Christmas shopping.)

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