The $10 Million...Clinic?

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Despite
its history of abject failure in the planning and administration
of any program, the U.S. government apparently wanted a second chance.
What better opportunity than Iraq? Here was a nation which the government
could invade, demolish and rebuild in its own utopian image starting
from the ground up.

Sure
there would be challenges such as ignorance of the landscape, language,
culture, religions and ethnic mosaic, no knowledge of how commerce
was conducted, and — go figure — a nation of people who would violently
resist our little social experiment.

Have
no fear! Washington would pour billions of bullets and dollars into
this little program to compensate for all of its shortcomings. The
Administration would destroy everything then take credit for restoring
it all. Nothing was immune from our benevolence. We would empty
entire cities, attempt to change the national flag, form new political
parties, outlaw others, print and supply our own textbooks, confiscate
private property, close down opposition media, fund our own media,
imprison opposition figures, bribe others and kill others. Cost
would be no object — or would it be?

Last
week it was reported that a plan to build 142 medical clinics at
a cost of $200 million dollars had fallen short. Short, as in gaining
7 yards on a pass in football when you needed to gain 50 yards.

Of
a projected 142 clinics, a mere 20 are reported to have been completed
(washingtonpost.com 4-3-06). At a total cost of $200 million, that
means each clinic cost $10 million to complete. There is no description
of what these $10 million wonders consist of. You can be certain
they are not major medical facilities or hospitals. They may consist
of nothing more than a neighborhood emergency clinic. After all,
their original projected cost was less than $1.5 million apiece.
Actually the original projected cost was $700,000.00 per clinic
when you consider that the 142-clinic objective was scaled back
from an original goal of 300. In other words, a 100% expenditure
of the budget resulted in a completion rate of only 7%.

In
one of the greatest understatements of the year, the World Health
Organization’s spokesperson in Cairo is quoted as saying, "That’s
not good. That’s shocking." I would agree, especially since
U.S. bombs and sanctions destroyed most of the primary health care
system in the first place.

Medical
clinics are not unique. According to the washingtonpost.com article,
"[t]he American reconstruction effort would be able to finish
only 300 of 425 promised electricity projects and 49 of 136 water
and sanitation projects." To coin the W.H.O., u2018That’s not good.’

If
nothing else, the Iraqis are becoming excellent students in American
government. Unfortunately, the lessons may be painful, even fatal.
So, pass the bandages and the iodine. Hey, Mr. Bush, this clinic
is really nice!

April
11, 2006

John
M. Peters [send him mail]
is a practicing attorney in Michigan.

John
M. Peters Archives

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