Appalling green grass for a Sunday afternoon

… are going up. Green grass is coming up. Gas prices are going up. Green grass is coming up. Gas prices …

Happy days, oh happy days for clean air and happy feet. Oh, happy day for the environment!

I’m going get into a fist-fight.

I don’t know who, and I don’t win. (Ha ha. I just wrote win. I meant “when”. Freud would have a field trip…) Frankly, I’m not looking forward to finding out. But, sadly, this is a new life goal…

I think there’s been a little too much Fight-Club-Palahniuk weirdness going on in the back of my head, as of late– or maybe it was that movie I watched the other night, Green Street Hooligans, that said something like When you’ve taken a few punches and you realize you are not made out of glass, you don’t feel alive unless you are pushing yourself as far as you can go.

Not made of glass… I’m actually, just now, beginning to realize this. I’m actually quite resilient. I heal, with time. I guess there’s no reason to intentionally subject myself to pain… but, heck, why not? Maybe I’ll learn something about myself.

I know. It’s not a very good goal. My plan of working my way up to middle-management, my goal of learning to settle for less, to be content with mediocrity, with recognizing my potential and not fulfilling it… THESE seem like good goals, by comparison.

But, alas. Just … watch your back. Punks. =P

Thirty-two hundred bright orange flags have surrounded Campus’s walks and filled its green space for the last week. Walking on to campus Monday morning, I saw a few flags and assumed that the sprinklers were being serviced. As I kept walking, though– no, this was no sprinkler project. I found myself amid a veritable sea of orange, waving flags. Every four feet, on every side… flags and flags and flags.

Then I saw the billboards:

3,200 American soldiers dead. WHY?

WHY did we invade Iraq?

Were there weapons of mass destruction?

600,000 Iraqis dead. WHY?

A flag was placed for each of the 3,200 American soldiers who have been killed in the war. Or, proportionally, 200 Iraqis per flag. My graduating class, per flag.

Perhaps a half-dozen such billboards were placed around campus: a question on top, with white space inviting comment underneath. Responses varied.

Some: “Bush lies! Greed! Oil! How many lives per gallon?

Others: “To defend freedom! Patriotism! So you can keep your right to dishonor their deaths in this shameless fashion.

On one sign, “600,000 Iraqis dead”, Iraqis was replaced with “insurgents”. On another sign, a half-dozen Iraq veterans had signed under “Iraq vets against this sign”.

Apparently, the demonstration had been organized by a small group of students and faculty, calling themselves “Bobcats for Progress”. The event marked the beginning of the fourth year of the war.

I wasn’t quick enough with my camera to get a picture of the multitude of flags, lining the Montana State University Centennial Mall (what we call the strip of pavement that runs across campus), but I applaud the effort of these individuals– I applaud them for being active.

And, their protest seems appropriate. Entering the fourth year of the war, Iraq has slipped from the front page to the second page to the pack page of the “B” section. “31 Sunnis killed in market suicide bombing.” “Violence in Baghdad kills 12.” “Civil war threatens in Iraq.”

Even President Bush’s requested appropriation of an ADDITIONAL $93.4 billion to support the war got buried in the “B” section of the Bozeman Chronicle.

As long as I’m on that thought, though, that’s $93.4 billion, on top of the existing $70B already appropriated for the War on Terror this year (FY07), on TOP of the $463B Department of Defense FY07 budget. If Bush gets his way, this will bring America’s total military spending to $626.4 billion for 2007.

Let’s put this in perspective. People like to complain about the exorbitant salaries collected by Hollywood’s biggest movie stars (Tom Cruise, I think, collects some $20m+ per film?). Yeah, that’s a lot of money, but then take a step back and realize that the entire film industry is only an $11.6B industry. Meaning that for every dollar spent by Hollywood, the military will spend $54 this year. This doesn’t seem like much, until you consider that Cruise’s $25m (plus royalties) commission for Minority Report equates to $1,350,000,000.01 in military spending. That’s one-point-three-five billion, plus .01 for emphasis.

Still, $626.4 billion may seem like chump change to some. Alternatively, let’s consider the following FY2007 budgets:

  • Total Federal funding for education: $93.5 billion
  • Environmental Protection Agency: $7.6 billion
  • Health and Human Services: $67.6 billion
  • National Park Service: $2.4 billion

    These four departments together add up to less than HALF of our appropriated military spending for FY 2007, and less then one QUARTER of this year’s total military spending.

    As a matter of fact, this year the federal government will spend more money on the War in Iraq than on education, environmental protection, Medicare, Medicade and our National Parks combined.

    I don’t know about you, but the last time I went out into a national forest, I got a lot more utility from that experience than from the entire $446B spent on the War in Iraq. I’m comparing apples to oranges, you say. Well, fine. But if apples kill people (without so much as a clear reason for it), and oranges make people’s lives better, and they both cost money then, damnit, give me a whole bag of oranges, and you keep your damn apples. I’ll have none of it.

  • About Mark Egge

    Two truths and a lie: Mark Egge is an outdoor enthusiast, opera singer, and a transportation data scientist. He lives in Bozeman, Montana.
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    2 Responses to Appalling green grass for a Sunday afternoon

    1. markegge says:

      Next year’s proposed budget allocates $141B to support the War in Iraq. The Washington Post quotes House Budget Committee Chairman John M. Spratt Jr. (D-S.C.) saying, “You can’t help but note the irony: The president calls for us to rein in spending but sends us a budget for more than $700 billion in new spending. For Republicans who profess to oppose big spending, this will be a budget they will find hard to swallow.”

    2. BenU says:

      Just give me a place and a time in regards to your new life goal.

      Also, education is almost entirely state funded, so its a bad idea to use it as an example of over-spending on the Iraq war. If you are going to use it, you should include the total government spending, not just national spending. Alternatively, if i was arguing in support of the war I could say that states are paying 0$ (accountant dollars) to support the wars in the middle east and spending 400$ billion on education (shot in the dark estimate). This might cause it to look like the states are lazy or something, which isn’t true. It just makes more sense for states to finance education for the citizens of their states and for the federal government to finance “the protection” of all the states. It’s easy to run education in small groups with minimal interaction with each other. The same can not be said of the military.