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R. Brick notes:

The problem is with the federal budget that funds the VA on a year to year basis, not on a permanent one. So every year the VA needs to scramble to come up with the money to cover the cost of supplying veterans with health care. The federal budget is controlled by congress, many pro war politicians, i.e. Duncan Hunter, want money for war but refuse to back permanent funding for the VA. What can we do? Use the ballot to make a statement.

Well, I doubt anyone would argue that the budget process isn’t screwy (given that in June, the Bush administration admitted there was a $1 billion shortfall in meeting the VA’s needs), but I would point out that the war funding and the veterans funding are really separate issues.

I know we’ve spent more than $400 billion in Iraq. Personally, I think we are doing a half-ass job of funding the war. If my daughter and your son were serving there, I’d bet the farm that we’d agree on this: A significant chunk of the GNP should be spent to make them successful — and safe.

Gen. Shinseki, the former army chief of staff, told congress prior to the war that occupying Iraq would take “several hundred thousand troops.” If we had had that number from the start, we’d have a lot more of credibility and influence in Iraq right now. As it is, that credibility is damaged if not lost.

And we did have it at first. I remember the high opinion some Iraqis had of us in those first few months. It was funny. For example: They hid their women at first because they thought our goggles (Wiley X sunglasses) gave us x-ray vision. No kidding. But then the looting showed how short-handed we were, Paul Bremmer disbanded the Iraqi Army and — much like Captain Cook and the Hawaiians — the Iraqis realized we were only human.

But, to put the funding in perspective: As of 2006, we were spending about 4 percent of our Gross National Product on defense right now, according to the Christian Science Monitor. This is actually less than the GNP- defense ratio of past eras.

According to a report from the Christian Science Monitor (with an interesting chart).

From one standpoint, the US economy should find it easier to absorb the present war. Today’s defense budget is about 4 percent of gross domestic product, the nation’s output of goods and services. That compares with 6.2 percent in the 1980s, 9.4 percent in 1960 (Vietnam), 14.2 percent in 1953 (Korea), and 38 percent in 1944 (World War II).

Why aren’t we selling war bonds? (Maybe I’m naïve, but we should be investing in our own war debt and maybe in our Vet debt too. China probably loaned us the money and we’ll be working for them soon.)

I’m rambling but if your point is that we ought to spend more to take care of veterans — especially wounded veterans — then I agree.

JEFF STINCHCOMB

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