The cost of war in Iraq reaches far beyond the tab for bullets and bombs, says professor Linda Bilmes, co-author (with Joseph Stiglitz, our guest in the second half of today’s show) of the new book The Three Trillion Dollar War: The True Cost of the Iraq Conflict. According to the book, Americans will spend decades treating the physical and psychological wounds of Iraq veterans, and when the economic consequences of the invasion are taken into account, the costs are staggering. Linda Bilmes is a professor at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. An expert on U.S. budgeting and public finance, she has written on financial and budgetary issues, including the cost of the Iraq War, veterans health and disability costs.
EXCERPT: “In America, corruption takes on a more nuanced form than it does elsewhere. Payoffs typically do not take the form of direct bribes, but of campaign contributions to both parties. From 1998 to 2003, Halliburton’s contributions to the Republican Party totaled $1,146,248, and $55,650 went to the Democratic Party. Halliburton received at least $19.3 billion in lucrative single-source contracts. Excess costs to the government are reflected in excess profits to the defense contractors, who have been (along with the oil companies) the only real winners in this war. Halliburton’s stock price has increased — by 229 percent since the war began, exceeding even the gains by other defense firms, such as General Dynamics (134 percent), Raytheon (117 percent), Lockheed Martin (105 percent), and Northrop Grumman (78 percent).”
ALSO, The Drive-By Truckers have been making bold, often epic southern rock since they first formed in Athens, Ga., a decade ago. Currently on tour for their seventh album, the band visited the 9:30 Club in Washington, D.C., for a night of live music, originally webcast in its entirety on NPR.org July 15. The Drive-By Truckers features three guitarists and songwriters: Patterson Hood, Mike Cooley and Jason Isbell, along with bassist Shonna Tucker and drummer Brad Morgan. Hood and Cooley formed the band in 1996 after meeting in college and have since played with a revolving cast of other musicians. The band’s songs tell tales of drunks, widespread poverty, loveable losers and stubborn good ol’ boys set against a backdrop of trailer parks and southern despair. They speak of “the duality of the Southern thing,” pride and regret: the pride of belonging to a special place with a separate history, speaking in a distinct accent, and a feeling of discomfort, too, about some of that history and attitude. The Drive-By Truckers first reached a major audience with its 2001 concept record Southern Rock Opera. The double album uses the rise and fall of the southern rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd as a metaphor for the cultural fall of the South as a whole. It was followed by Decoration Day in 2003, The Dirty South in 2004 and this year’s A Blessing And A Curse.
The democratic presidential candidates have reignited the debate over NAFTA. Why has a 14-year old trade agreement become such a hot topic on the campaign trail and is it a legitimate issue or just a way to attract voters. We talk with JEFFREY SCHOTT of the Peterson Institute for International Economics. Listen to this show via Real Audio | mp3
Writer LORI GOTTLIEB’s article in the Feb/March issue of The Atlantic Monthly has created quite a stir. Titled “Marry Him!,” Gottlieb makes the case that single women over 30 should stop looking for Mr. Perfect and instead settle for a decent guy who will make a good life partner. LORI GOTTLIEB joins Marty to talk about it. Listen to this show via Real Audio | mp3
Vampire Weekend‘s endearingly wordy lyrics make the band sound collegiate in the best possible way. Its unique sound inventively mixes contemporary American indie-rock, Western classical music, and South African traditional music. Hear a performance and interview from WXPN.
VAMPIRE WEEKEND: Mansard Roof