Politics News

Saturday night owls: Excerpts from Harper’s Index


Saturday April 18, 2020

7:30 PM PDT



A whole lot heaper in Mexico, as Utah public officials have discovered to their benefit.

A whole lot heaper in Mexico, as Utah public officials have discovered to their benefit.

Night Owls, a themed open thread, appears at Daily Kos seven days a week

Excerpts from the May edition of the Harper’s Index:

Portion of ocean currents that have sped up since 1990: 3/4
Number of current members of the Trump administration who have worked as Fox News contributors: 7
Portion of Trump’s 2019 tweets that were live responses to Fox News or Fox Business programs: 1/10
Percentage of Americans aged 65 and over who say it’s unlikely that they will fill out a census form: 6
Of Americans aged 18 to 34 who say so: 13
Rank of African Americans among demographic groups most likely to fear that census information will be used against them: 2
Rank of Asian Americans: 1
Factor by which Americans go to the library more often than they go to the movies: 2
Percentage decrease from 2008 to 2017 in the number of full-time U.S. public school librarian positions: 26
Percentage increase between 2014 and 2018 in health care costs for Americans with employer-sponsored health insurance: 18
Average U.S. retail price for a vial of prescription insulin: $400
Average Craigslist price for one: $30
Estimated amount that Utah spent last year sending public employees to Mexico to buy cheaper medicine: $250,000



“Labor was the first price, the original purchase-money that was paid for all things. It was not by gold or by silver, but by labor, that all wealth of the world was originally purchased.”
               ~~Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations, 1776



At Daily Kos on this date in 2004—$4.5 billion for mercenaries in Iraq:

The New York Times has an extensive report on the scope, costs and problems of the military’s use of mercenaries in Iraq:

With every week of insurgency in a war zone with no front, these companies are becoming more deeply enmeshed in combat, in some cases all but obliterating distinctions between professional troops and private commandos. Company executives see a clear boundary between their defensive roles as protectors and the offensive operations of the military. But more and more, they give the appearance of private, for-profit militias—by several estimates, a force of roughly 20,000 on top of an American military presence of 130,000 […]

The price of this partnership is soaring. By some recent government estimates, security costs could claim up to 25 percent of the $18 billion budgeted for reconstruction, a huge and mostly unanticipated expense that could delay or force the cancellation of billions of dollars worth of projects to rebuild schools, water treatment plants, electric lines and oil refineries […]

The authority initially estimated that security costs would eat up about 10 percent of the $18 billion in reconstruction money approved by Congress, said Capt. Bruce A. Cole of the Navy, a spokesman for the authority’s program management office.

But after months of sabotage and insurgency, some officials now say a much higher percentage will go to security companies that unblushingly charge $500 to $1,500 a day for their most skilled operators […]

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