Relevant and even prescient commentary on news, politics and the economy.

## RDPILCiDPABDI

About a week ago, I had a post looking at real disposable personal income less the increase in each person’s future tax obligation throughout the year. (What a mouthful. Maybe I should call it RDPILCiD, which seems to have a catchy ring to it.)

In another thread, reader One Salient Oversight asked what some of the series I’ve been graphing would look like if measured in foreign currency. I took the Fed’s price adjusted broad dollar index, and determined how much it changed over time by dividing it by the value it had in 1973 at the start of the fiscal year, and then multiplied that by the RDPILCiD, creating the (even more catchily-titled series) RDPILCiDPABDI. (Its like poetry!)

As an example, in 1973, the price adjusted broad dollar index it had a value of 97.592. In 1974, it was 94.361. Similarly, in 1973 the RDPILCiD had a value of 15,271, and in 1974, it had a value of 15,637. Thus, the RDPILCiDPABDI was equal to 15,271 in 1973, and 15,637 * (94.361/97.592) = 15,119 in 1974.

What this series shows is one’s real disposable income, subtracting off one’s share of the change in federal debt, all measured using a broad index of price adjusted foreign currency. Put another way… it gives us an idea of how each of us doing relative to foreigners. The data only goes back to 1973 – when the Bretton Woods system collapsed.

The Table below summarizes the results, showing the annual percentage change in the series under each President.

Something I should note… until 1976, fiscal years ran from July to June. Since then, they’ve run from October to September. Put another way, the 1975 fiscal year ended in June of 1976. The 1976 fiscal year began in September. In my previous looks at this sort of data, I failed to take into account this wedge. This time (and forever more with fiscal year data), I figured out how to do it. The change is insignificant, but it does add a small amount of precision. The result… notice that the figure that applied to the start of Carter’s term is not quite the figure that applied to the end of Nixon/Ford’s.

Anyway, long story short… Clinton does best, followed by Reagan, then Carter. The other 3 (Republican) administrations all show losses.

————-

Data and methodology notes…
Disposable personal income data is available from the BEA’s NIPA Table 2.1. Data on the Federal Debt was obtained from White House OMB Table 7.1. Because the data is for the end of the fiscal year (which ran through June until 1976, and until September in subsequent years), and the disposable income is provided quarterly, I used 2nd quarter real disposable personal income per capita through 1976 and 3rd quarter thereafter. In addition, I adjusted using the average of 12 consecutive months’ CPI-U CPI-U to compute inflation. To match the other series, the twelve months ended in June for years through 1976, and in September for years thereafter.

If you want my spreadsheet, let me know.

## Eating Liberally

Kevin Drum now and then holds an “eating liberally” session here in Los Angeles. He’s scheduled one for Sunday. Basic info:

Where: Farmer’s Market, 3rd and Fairfax
Meeting Place: The upstairs seating area above Magee’s Kitchen
When: Sunday, June 3, at noon

I’ve never been to one of these things, but the Ex-GF and I will probably be there. If there are any Angry Bear readers (or other Angry Bear posters) there, I need a favor. Please distract the Ex-GF while I take advantage of this phenomenom.

## Reader Spencer on What the Capitalists Have to Say About Bush Economic Policy vs. Clinton Economic Policy

Reader Spencer sends a graph:

## Responses to Comments – Round 3

To Dan: You are correct that it is hard to define the nature of the terrorist “beast.” My book describes this in greater detail, as does the report of SAFE, of which I am a member. One risk of terrorism is that an attack could knock out a vital port or supply depot in the Middle East or elsewhere (for instance, Nigeria), as you mention. Another is that it could do so in the U.S. (e.g., Long Beach, through which a great deal of West Coast oil passes). And as you suggest, terrorists could come from Al Qaeda, or some splinter group, or from cells in the U.S. But there are a lot of groups that would like to pull off a big attack in the U.S. or our allies. Some of this requires a strong military, such as protection of facilities in the Persian Gulf. But it also involves good intelligence and cooperation with friends and allies. In response to your question, the threat is difficult to quantify, but all intelligence sources — U.S., European, Arab, Israeli — recognize that it is there and growing. I think you will find a lot more of your questions answered in my book.

To Cursed: Thank you!!!

To Lysistrada: You make a good point. Many of these non-essentials, primarily pork-barrel programs, should be cut in any case. And a lot of the money could be put to better use in the U.S. I was also trying to argue that even though this war is relatively easy to pay for, while our troops and their families are sacrificing, it is equitable and moral for all of us to make at least a minor sacrifice, and that adding pork-barrel programs to the budget is hardly sacrifice. Indeed, it gives certain privileged constituencies added government subsidies when our troops lack body armor and proper veteran’s care.

I hope you enjoy the book. I would very much enjoy hearing your thoughts once you have read it. Many thanks.

To Bruce Webb: Great point. You are right about these projections. The problem, however, is not so much when the Trust Fund is depleted, but when the System goes into deficit, which is much earlier. At that time, the government has to come up with the funds to make up the difference between inflows and outflows. It can borrow the money, raise taxes to obtain the money or cut other programs to free up funds to pay beneficiaries. I agree that addressing the Medicare issue is a bigger challenge, but the conventional wisdom is to do Social Security first. I would gladly support doing Medicare first, but there is little hope of doing that and at least a modicum of hope in improving Social Security.

To Dmarek: I acknowledge that you can’t balance the system on the funding from the “rich,” but the payroll tax is very regressive and there are ways of making it more progressive so the inflows into the system in the next decade are more in line with the projected outflows. What is the Constitutional issue you are referring to?

To Coberly: If you check the report of the Trustees of the Social Security system you will find that many people get more than they pay in. The concept of the system was Social SECURITY. It was to ensure people that need the support in their old age receive it. I recommend that you take a look at the 1935 Act. It was never meant as an investment fund. It was meant to ensure that they have enough to support them in their old age. It does have a lot to do with the inflow of funds into the system. If those fall below benefit payments, the government has to get the money to pay beneficiaries from somewhere. That means taxes or borrowing or cuts in other programs. The Trust Fund is just IOUs to the Social Security system from the Treasury, and the Treasury has to come up with the funds from somewhere. And my goal is not to “steal” the money from the Social Security system. If it were sustainable for the next 40 years, I would not touch it at all, but it most likely is not. And if it is not, it will suck funds from other programs. That is what I want to avoid.

To Lysistrada: No argument here. I think there are strong arguments for universal health insurance. And you are correct that Social Security is a contract between the American people and the government; but to honor that contract over time it needs to be put on a sustainable basis in which inflows more closely match benefit payments over coming decades. If I were convinced that would be the case, I would not even raise the subject, but most experts do not think so — and believe that payments will balloon in a couple of decades while inflows of funds will not keep up. If you have evidence to the contrary I will gladly drop the subject as an issue — but the hard facts I have seen convince me that is not the case.

To Coberly (again): I only said the tax is regressive, which it is. Not that the system is regressive — which, as you point out, it is not. And don’t kid yourself about what happens to the money; it is lent to the Treasury and is spent to pay for other government programs. The Social Security system had a stack of IOUs from the Treasury, which it is obliged to make good on when the Social Security needs them to pay beneficiaries. The guarantee comes from the credibility that the Treasury will pay its obligations to the system. But as you say, many people get out more than they pay in. How long do you think that can last without a lot more borrowing to make up the difference of a tax increase to increase the inflow of funds from the system? The money has to come from somewhere. Your posting of 1:06 has it exactly right.

I never used the word “bankruptcy.” But if inflows exceed benefit payments, the money does not come from other payers into the system. It has to come from somewhere else.

Do you consider a plan to ensure that Social Security is put on a sustainable basis is an attack on entitlements? Your idea of a gradual and modest increase in the FICA tax is one way of doing that. Your interpretation that I am saying take the money from people putting it into the system and paying for the military is inaccurate. Where did I say that? To have an honest debate, it is important to at least be accurate — and not attribute things to people that they did not say. I want to be sure that it is sustainable so inflows and outflows are in balance. I don’t want to take a cent from the money paid in for anything. It should all go to beneficiaries. Where did you come up with this odd interpretation?

To Ilsm: I agree that matching funding needs with solutions in the military is sensible. You are in good company. In my book, I describe how Eisenhower expressed exactly the same view in the 1950s. And you are right that OASDI and Medicare should be separate. I unfortunately had to put them together for reasons of brevity, but you are correct. They are different.

To Dan: Yes, the two mesh very well. The last chapter of my book features a discussion of “Energy Patriotism,” which argues strongly that reducing dependence on imported oil reduces U.S. vulnerability, reduces the outflow of funds, and reduces the amount of money earned by some countries hostile to U.S. interests. It would have been great if the President had called for a bold initiative to reduce oil dependence for national security reasons after 9/11. I bet he would have gotten a fairly robust bill.

To Bruce Webb: I am sure the reports you cite are far from perfect and there are a lot of long-term projections that may or may not be entirely accurate. I am curious as to which “party line” I am toeing. These reports are from experts who are put in these positions because of their expertise. They are not partisan. If you have more accurate projections, I would be happy to see them.

To Coberly (again): I never said that entitlements are the cause of current budget difficulties — but most experts believe that they will be. Surely you don’t believe in buying insurance when your house is already on fire. You claim to know a lot about Social Security. I am sure you do, but do you really know more than the people who run the system from day to day? The ones who do suggest that there are large imbalances down the road and at that time, the money will have to be found from taxes, borrowing or elsewhere in the budget.

To Moses: Thanks again. I appreciate your thoughtful approach. You have really captured what I am trying to say: that we need a thoughtful, long-term plan to meet our national security and Social Security needs as well as other priorities.

I agree that we should not touch the system at all unless it becomes so unsustainable that it drains funds from other programs. As long as inflows are likely to be relatively in line with benefit payments, I would not touch it. In any case, I would never suggest that money paid into the system be used for purposes other than to benefit recipients, i.e., not for any other programs.

To Coberly (again): Ahh, we finally agree on something. I think that allowing the top marginal tax rate to revert to the level of the late 1990s would be a good idea to pay for national security. But dividing people into “good guys” and “bad guys” is a little bit simplistic — isn’t it? The last thing I want to do is to kill the program. In my book, I describe it as the most important piece of social legislation in the 20th Century, and certainly the proudest accomplishment of the New Deal. I want it to be around for the next hundred years and have our children and grandchildren benefit from it. They key is to ensure that it is in reasonable balance so the money is there to meet the needs of the future. Ignoring projections of large imbalances is hardly the way to deal with the problem. If you have numbers that are different from those of the Social Security Trustees, and can give me confidence that the system will be in balance for the next several decades, I would love to see them.

## Stupak Bill: Ben Stein is not an Economist

Ben Stein dusts off the usual conservative talking points:

All this comes to mind because I read that something called “the Stupak bill” just passed in Congress. This bill, named for a representative from the great state of Michigan, basically gives us a socialized energy industry. (As of this writing, President Bush has threatened to veto the bill.) Of course the bill doesn’t come right out and say that, because Americans are wary of socialism. But the Stupak bill allows the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to issue findings of price gouging against energy companies based on the slenderest of assumptions rather than real evidence, leading to severe punishment for the companies. This regulation could be triggered by actions that are basic to the free market – for instance, when an oil company raises prices because there’s a shortage of oil due to a revolution in Nigeria that shuts down production in the Niger Delta, or a hurricane that closes refineries in Louisiana. In the most elemental terms, then, the Stupak bill punishes oil companies when the free market is working as it should, allocating supply by means of the price system. When I say punishing the oil companies, I mean that the Stupak bill allows compulsory lowering of fuel prices. That will mean service stations running out of gas, long lines at the pump, and people unable to get to work or school or the hospital.

Really? So why is James Hamilton saying a few nice things about this bill?

The third good thing about this bill is that it leaves enforcement up to the Federal Trade Commission. I am quite certain that, under any administration, FTC staff are going to be vastly more economically literate than the typical judge, jury, or politician, and will approach the analysis of what is actually going on with supply and demand in a given situation with some degree of basic understanding.

In other words – if markets are working according to the perfectly competitive view held by Ben Stein, the FTC will not impose rigid price ceilings. Just because Ben’s father was an economist does not suggest we should listen to the son as he plays economist on TV.

Update: Maybe I owe Ben Stein an apology in light of the latest from Thomas Sowell:

Whatever the hopes that may have inspired price controls, economists have studied their actual consequences, which have been remarkably similar from one place to another and from one time to another – and almost invariably bad … In the United States, liberals have made it virtually impossible, by banning drilling in all sorts of places and preventing any new refinery from being built anywhere in the country in the last 30 years.

I’m rather stunned by these two sentences coming from a Ph.D. in economics. Yes, price controls applied to perfectly competitive markets will lead to shortages, but Thomas Sowell is saying that he has never seen examples of monopoly power. The other sentence is suggesting that we have an incredible shortage of refinery capacity and that the refinery companies are just itching to increase capacity. Our friend Bill Polley offered a somewhat different view as he linked to a discussion that featured Akshay Rao. My thoughts on this alleged shortage of refinery capacity can be found here and here:

Dr. Rao starts with the declining number of refineries canard but then notes their output is up AND we can address shortages with imports. Bill Polley notes that the decision to make a new refinery is a long-term investment decision so even if refinery margins have temporarily spiked, that’s not going to necessarily induce a surge in refinery investment … Much of the rise in gasoline prices from January 2000 to March 2007 is attributable to higher oil prices. Refinery margins have been quite volatile but there does not appear to be a clear upward trend. Now the current high prices might be to another jump in refinery margins, but I’m willing to bet that this is just another transitory event. Which would mean that the incentives to do a lot of refinery investment just won’t be there … Certainly, the dip in refinery capacity and rise in refinery margins after Katrina should be seen as inward shift of the supply curve. But did Katrina and Hurricane lead to such a decline in refinery supply that we still are feeling the effects? Or is the fall in output and the rise in prices due to some cartel behavior? If the latter is the case, price controls might be a means of lowering prices and increasing production.

## OK. They Were Right.

Over the past few months, Atrios has been keeping track of dates by which we have been told that a drawdown would occur, or victory would occur, etc. Today he linked to one I found particularly interesting:

AMMAN, Jordan – Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said Thursday that his country’s forces would be able to assume security command by June 2007 — which could allow the United States to start withdrawing its troops.

“I cannot answer on behalf of the U.S. administration but I can tell you that from our side our forces will be ready by June 2007,” Maliki told ABC television after meeting President Bush on Thursday in Jordan.

That was last November. And its certainly not the first time Iraqi forces were going to be taking over. I believe that was a few years ago.

But Atrios has had a lot of these quotes in the last few months. Apparently he writes them down on his calendar and then waits for the date to arrive. (He must have a big calendar.) Folks like Petraeus, George Casey, various Republican congresscritters, etc. Always promising either a drawdown, a victory, a winning lotto ticket, signs of success, or whatever, in six months. (Or, as Atrios calls it, in a Friedman.) And when the Friedman passes, nothing. Why can’t we just take these people at their word? Just once. Let’s pretend that Maliki and the rest of them were right even just once, and bring the troops home.

## Capture Theory, Mad Cow, the Bush Administration, and What You Eat

Back when I did the adjunct professor thing, I used
this article as an example of capture theory.

The Department of Agriculture refused yesterday to allow a Kansas beef producer to test all of its cattle for mad cow disease, saying such sweeping tests were not scientifically warranted.

The producer, Creekstone Farms Premium Beef, wanted to use recently approved rapid tests so it could resume selling its fat-marbled black Angus beef to Japan, which banned American beef after a cow slaughtered in Washington State last December tested positive for mad cow. The company has complained that the ban is costing it \$40,000 a day and forced it to lay off 50 employees.

Since December, Japan has demanded that producers who want to export there test each animal, as Japanese ranchers do. The American beef industry and the Bush administration have resisted, and negotiations have become increasingly tense.

Long story short… whatever the USDA said, the reason they refused to let Creekstone test all its beef at its own expense is that it would set a precedent that the big guys would feel obligated to follow.

So yesterday, when I read this post at Steve Benen’s place, my first thought was… why is Steve linking to old news? Isn’t there enough new news out there? What’s wrong with him?

But the article to which he links is from a couple days ago:

WASHINGTON — The Bush administration said Tuesday it will fight to keep meatpackers from testing all their animals for mad cow disease .

The Agriculture Department tests less than 1 percent of slaughtered cows for the disease, which can be fatal to humans who eat tainted beef. But Kansas-based Creekstone Farms Premium Beef wants to test all of its cows.

Larger meat companies feared that move because, if Creekstone tested its meat and advertised it as safe, they might have to perform the expensive test, too.

The Agriculture Department regulates the test and argued that widespread testing could lead to a false positive that would harm the meat industry.

A federal judge ruled in March that such tests must be allowed. U.S. District Judge James Robertson noted that Creekstone sought to use the same test the government relies on and said the government didn’t have the authority to restrict it.

Disregarding the nonsensical “false positive” argument, what this tells you is this… the administration will side with profits for large meat companies over our lives.

## Response to Comments – Round Two

Bakho: Interesting points. I agree on the minimum wage. And I also agree that some aspects of the military budget should be cut while others (e.g., bolstering our anti-terrorist quick strike special forces, our intelligence, and our support for veterans) should be increased. It is a question of the right kind of spending, which means setting priorities. On taxes, some of the cuts should be allowed to sunset, but I don’t think we should do that for cuts to lower and middle income groups. And there should be a ceiling on the size of estates that benefit from the lower inheritance tax.

To Henry Cobb. Do you really think the U.N. would take Iraq? And your recipe for Israel really shocks me. Surely you can’t be serious?

CoRev: Supplementals do skirt the budget process, because they come in so late that they do not permit tradeoffs to be made (i.e., cuts to be made in other areas of the budget, including the defense budget) to pay for the war. And they are not all for the war. Lots of extraneous programs are included in them as well, some of it political pork. It also minimizes oversight, since little scrutiny is given to what is in the supplemental request because it comes in so late in the budget process. It may appear transparent, but please look at what is actually in the bills and how little scrutiny or oversight they receive, and then let me know what you think.

K Harris: You make some excellent points. This war will be the second most expensive in history in inflation-adjusted terms by the end of this year. But as a portion of GDP, it is only 1% compared to nearly 40% for World War II, 15% for the Korean War and 10% for Vietnam. Thus, it is not a major burden on the economy. But that does not mean that the government should have no strategy for paying for it. As in past wars, it would have been appropriate at least to cut back some non-essential domestic programs and curb earmarking, and perhaps at the beginning of the war, Americans would have rallied behind that. And the outset of the war on terrorism after 9/11 would have been a great time for a bold energy policy, cuts in non-essential domestic programs, and a moratorium or earmarking to free up funds for recovery at home and the added funds which then were channeled into the military.

Dan: Very thoughtful questions. Unfortunately, as your questions suggest, much of the rhetoric that surround this is very politicized. One reason I decided to write this book is because I have served in both Republican and Democratic administrations, and continue to support candidates on both sides of the aisle. My book examines how wars have been financed in the past to enable the reader to make judgments, based on the successes and failures of the past, whether this war is being paid for in the right way. My own conclusion is that the most successful wartime leaders are the ones who have been most candid with the American people about the cost of the war, and insisted on some sacrifice at home while American troops were sacrificing on the battlefield. If you decide to read the book, I would be grateful to hear whether you think I have responded to your thoughtful concerns.

Coberly: I do not advocate cutting “entitlements” to pay for the war. The hard fact is that entitlement programs are on trajectories that will make them unsustainable over the course of coming decades. Reforms need to be carried out to make them sustainable so that they will be there for the people who will need them, not just this year and next, but for coming generations. But there is a national security element. If left unreformed, these programs will siphon off funds from the rest of the budget – including defense. But even if the defense budget were zero, entitlements would be in need of reform. Or the budget deficit would skyrocket, pushing up interest rates, probably pushing up taxes (including the payroll tax, which is very regressive), and reduce the flexibility in the budget to deal with future national emergencies (e.g., an act of terrorism, another Hurricane Katrina, or a pandemic). And be careful about arguing that politically-inspired constituency projects are paid for by these constituencies themselves. They are not. They are paid for by all citizens for the benefit of a few constituencies. Regarding a tax increase, I would fully support raising taxes on upper income citizens to pay for a war or other national emergency. Indeed, throughout my book I make the point that this was done in the Civil War, World War I and World War II. No reason not to do it if we need to again.

Dan: We have a real difference of opinion on the nature and severity of the threat to this country.

Ken Melvin: You are right that addressing terrorism needs to be done on many fronts: better intelligence, better preparations at home, and better strategy with allies.

Moses: Thank you. I really appreciate your thoughts and your analysis of the book. You are right; I genuinely tried to approach this in a non-partisan way. All I am asking for – as you cogently described it – is a dialogue on an overall, multi-year fiscal strategy that will reset budget priorities in the context of the long war on terrorism while also meeting other national objectives, such as our obligations to our elderly and those who need government support for their health care. Doing this in an ad hoc way will leave us very vulnerable – and without a sensible medium-term approach for meeting any of our priorities.

More responses to comments will be posted tomorrow.

## Iraqis Outside of Iraq

Via iraqi war news
Iraqi Today an awful story from the NY Times

Back home in Iraq, Umm Hiba’s daughter was a devout schoolgirl, modest in her dress and serious about her studies. Hiba, who is now 16, wore the hijab, or Islamic head scarf, and rose early each day to say the dawn prayer before classes.

But that was before militias began threatening their Baghdad neighborhood and Umm Hiba and her daughter fled to Syria last spring. There were no jobs, and Umm Hiba’s elderly father developed complications related to his diabetes.
Desperate, Umm Hiba followed the advice of an Iraqi acquaintance and took her daughter to work at a nightclub along a highway known for prostitution. “We Iraqis used to be a proud people,” she said over the frantic blare of the club’s speakers. She pointed out her daughter, dancing among about two dozen other girls on the stage, wearing a pink silk dress with spaghetti straps, her frail shoulders bathed in colored light.

For anyone living in Damascus these days, the fact that some Iraqi refugees are selling sex or working in sex clubs is difficult to ignore.

Even in central Damascus, men freely talk of being approached by pimps trawling for customers outside juice shops and shawarma sandwich stalls, and of women walking up to passing men, an act unthinkable in Arab culture, and asking in Iraqi-accented Arabic if the men would like to “have a cup of tea.”

By day the road that leads from Damascus to the historic convent at Saidnaya is often choked with Christian and Muslim pilgrims hoping for one of the miracles attributed to a portrait of the Virgin Mary at the convent. But as any Damascene taxi driver can tell you, the Maraba section of this fabled pilgrim road is fast becoming better known for its brisk trade in Iraqi prostitutes.

Many of these women and girls, including some barely in their teens, are recent refugees. Some are tricked or forced into prostitution, but most say they have no other means of supporting their families. As a group they represent one of the most visible symptoms of an Iraqi refugee crisis that has exploded in Syria in recent months.

According to the United Nations high commissioner for refugees, about 1.2 million Iraqi refugees now live in Syria; the Syrian government puts the figure even higher.

Given the deteriorating economic situation of those refugees, a United Nations report found last year, many girls and women in “severe need” turn to prostitution, in secret or even with the knowledge or involvement of family members. In many cases, the report added, “the head of the family brings clients to the house.”

Mouna Asaad, a Syrian women’s rights lawyer, said the government had been blindsided by the scale of the arriving Iraqi refugee population. Syria does not require visas for citizens of Arab countries, and its government had pledged to assist needy Iraqis. But this country of 19 million was ill equipped to cope with the sudden arrival of hundreds of thousands of them, Ms. Asaad said.

“Sometimes you see whole families living this way, the girls pimped by the mother or aunt,” she said. “But prostitution isn’t the only problem. Our schools are overcrowded, and the prices of services, food and transportation have all risen. We don’t have the proper infrastructure to deal with this. We don’t have shelters or health centers that these women can go to. And because of the situation in Iraq, Syria is careful not to deport these women.”

Inexpensive Iraqi prostitutes have helped to make Syria a popular destination for sex tourists from wealthier countries in the Middle East. In the club’s parking lot, nearly half of the cars had Saudi license plates.

From Damascus it is only about six hours by car, passing through Jordan, to the Saudi border. Syria, where it is relatively easy to buy alcohol and dance with women, is popular as a low-cost weekend destination for groups of Saudi men.

And though some women of other nationalities, including Russians and Moroccans, still work as prostitutes in Damascus, Abeer, a 23-year-old from Baghdad working at the same club as Hiba, explained that the arriving Iraqis had pushed many of them out of business.

“From what I’ve seen, 70 percent to 80 percent of the girls working this business in Damascus today are Iraqis,” she said. “The rents here in Syria are too expensive for their families. If they go back to Iraq they’ll be slaughtered, and this is the only work available.”

1.2 million Iraqi refugees in Syria alone, perhaps more. Living like this. It wasn’t long ago that the usual commentary was: “well, things were even worse under Saddam.” Perhaps they were. But the people responsible for not planning out what was going to happen after the war, the folks who were more intent on imposing ideology than solutions upon the Iraqis, and who were willing to stand aside while the problems got worse and worse, all the time deriding the “liberal main stream media” for ignoring the stories about painted schoolhouses, they bear some responsibility. Perhaps GW, as a self-proclaimed religious man can tell us, how is the road to hell paved?