July 2007


You may remember (or not) a post I did in April, Is the Surge Working?
There’s been a lot of press lately about the progress in Iraq, and I thought I’d try to track down some stats. From Newsmax.com Here are some numbers for you:

Forward Progress
– Electricity production has reached 4,100 megawatts, short of the coalition’s goal of 6,000 megawatts by June 30. Estimates of Iraq’s prewar production have varied wildly – from 300 megawatts to 4,400 megawatts

– Electricity is now spread evenly across the country. Baghdad, which used to be favored under Saddam Hussein’s regime, now gets 8-12 hours of electricity a day compared to 20 hours before the war.

– The overall number of telephones in Iraq, including cell phones, is up nearly 46 percent since before the war. Cellular phone usage has soared with more than 429,300 subscribers nationwide.

– More than 2,200 schools and 240 hospitals have been “rehabilitated,” the coalition said – though the amount of work performed has varied.

– As of January 2004, 860 secondary school master trainers, and 31,772 secondary teachers and administrative staff, were trained in programs funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development.

– School supply kits have been distributed to 1.5 million secondary school students, 808,000 primary school students and 81,735 primary school teachers.

– About 8.7 million new math and science textbooks have been distributed. The World Bank has issued a grant for $40 million for new textbooks for 6 million primary and secondary students.

– Twenty Iraqis have received Fulbright grants to study abroad, and six are women.

– More than 77,000 public works jobs have been created through the National Employment Program.

– Sixteen provincial councils have been established, along with 78 district councils, 192 city or sub-district councils, and 392 neighborhood councils.

– Health-care spending in Iraq has increased some 30 times over prewar levels. Between June 2003 and April 2004, more than 3 million children under five were vaccinated against diseases. A U.S. grant to the Iraqi Nursing Association will go toward training more nurses and buying uniforms, bed linens and nurses’ kits.

– The new Iraqi dinar has been stable, and its value has risen by 25 percent over last fall, when the conversion was under way.

Failures

-More than 201,000 subscribers have had their land telephone lines reinstated, but there are still only 784,200 land lines, compared to 833,000 before the war.

From the Bush Administration’s Initial Benchmark Assessment:

Economics and Essential Services: The economic picture is uneven. Key economic indicators paint a modestly improved picture ‑‑ unemployment has eased slightly and inflation is currently abating. Government revenue is steady due to high oil prices, but the Iraqi Government has not yet made needed investments to increase oil and refining output. Private-sector activity is picking up in some areas, notably the more than $1 billion that have been invested in wireless telecoms, but investors remain wary due to poor security and the continuing need for a stronger legal framework. The Iraqi Government has begun to show resolve in initiating budget execution and capital investment to restore services, but citizens nationwide complain about government corruption and the lack of essential services, such as electricity, fuel supply, sewer, water, health, and sanitation.

A principle that was put forth in my Historical Economics class could apply here: the basis of secure infrastructure is the assurance of protection of private property. If a man has no assurance that his home, his camels, his stored grain, or his produce stand are actually his and cannot be taken away, he has no incentive to accumulate wealth. This affects his ability to further his education, and to advance his life past the bare minimum. Private property protection is a necessity for the advancement of a country. This basic protection is still lacking in Iraq, where the legal system and Government are corrupt.

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Over the last few weeks I’ve been slowly switching over to using less paper napkins and paper towels and more cloth napkins and towels. I was inspired by a post from the blog “Walk slowly, live wildly” entitled choose cloth. The author described her transition from being in a house full of paper products to a house that uses only cloth. Although I question whether some people have considered the impact on the environment (and their pocketbook) of the extra loads of laundry, I feel comfortable switching up a couple of my habits that won’t add any extra work for me (or the washing machine). Cloth napkins take up hardly any extra space and can be tossed in with a load I’m doing anyway. You’ll never find me switching to cloth “toilet paper”, but Kudos to Sara for going the distance.

Racers

This last weekend Anita from My Sojourn and I participated in a 5k race over in Palmer. I use the term “race” loosely. It was more of a timed run, with a hundred other people. We both had a good time. This race is my first and last for the 2007 season. I’m a tough runner, I know 😉 You can check out the results and an article here.