Two years ago Joseph E. Stiglitz and Linda J. Bilmes estimated that the cost of the war in Iraq would be $3 trillion. They now think that number is too low, because it didn't include the cost of treating and compensating disabled veterans. Without the Iraq war, they argue, the U.S. would not still be stuck in Afghanistan, oil prices wouldn't be as high and the current economic crisis wouldn't be as severe. They figure that the Iraq war added $10 to the cost of a barrel of oil. Before the current crisis, the federal debt ballooned from $6.4 to $10 trillion, and at least a quarter of the increase is attributable to the war, excluding health care and disability payments to disabled veterans. "Can we learn from this mistake?" they ask (Washington Post, September 5).
Sep 20, 2010
Susan Retik and Patti Quigley were made widows by the attacks of 9/11. In response to their loss they formed Beyond the 11th, a not-for-profit organization that has helped more than 1,000 Afghan widows start businesses, including one that makes soccer balls and one that raises chickens for selling eggs. The project also supports a women's center where carpets are woven for export and a literacy center with a bakery. The work of Beyond the 11th over the past nine years has cost less than keeping one American soldier in Afghanistan for eight months (Nicholas D. Kristof, New York Times, September 8).
Sep 17, 2010
Otto Goins, who turned 100 last month, is still preaching weekly at the Assembly of God church he started 70 years ago in Haydenville, Oklahoma. Although he lives in an assisted-living center, he says he's never been sick. "I don't take any medicine and I have rarely been to a doctor," he said. He attributes his longevity to God and abstaining from drugs, tobacco and alcohol (UPI).
Sep 17, 2010
Sissela Bok, a philosopher who recently published a book on happiness, says she might never have existed, much less experienced happiness, if it weren't for her mother's stubborn refusal to accept the advice of doctors. Bok's mother had come close to death through a traumatic miscarriage and later developed a uterine tumor. Her doctors urged her to have a hysterectomy and warned that future pregnancies could be fatal. But she refused the hysterectomy, believing that her only child at the time—Bok's older brother—needed a sibling. Bok discovered all this 50 years afterward when she read a letter her father, Gunnar Myrdal, had written to her mother affirming her mother's decision (Exploring Happiness, Yale University Press).
God above the border
Sep 17, 2010
According to a new poll, slightly more than half of Canadians believe in heaven, but fewer than a third believe in hell. About 53 percent said they believe in life after death; about 27 percent said they believe in reincarnation; and half expressed belief in religious miracles. The Canadian poll, which surveyed 420 people earlier this year, found that about 30 percent of respondents agreed with the statement, "I know God really exists and I have no doubts." Most of the "nonbelievers" believe in a higher power, stated Jack Jedwab, executive director of the Montreal-based Association for Canadian Studies, which conducted the study with Carleton University in Ottawa (RNS).