Ron Paul’s 20 Billion On Military A.C. – N. S.!

In an attempt to achieve holy humility, I am dealing with objections against the several times I accused Ron Paul of being insouciant about facts. The first time I questioned on his blog Ron Paul’s veracity with respect to the alleged facts he throws out freely, I expressed disbelief at his assertion that the US spent 20 billion (B) a year on air conditioning in Iraq and Afghanistan (“ Ron Paul Won’t Get My Vote” posted December 3st 2011.) I declared, of course, that I did not believe that number for a minute. I also speculated in that posting on the possible sources of such silliness.

In reaction, frequent critic of this blog and fervent Paulista Crackpot sent me a flurry of links to press items supposedly supporting Paul’s statement. The 20 billion figure was so absurd on its face that I did not, at the time, make enough of an effort to activate the links. He sent me again recently, in a more user-friendly form, linkages to three press items purporting to prove to me that this country really spent 20 billion dollars annually on air conditioning warring in Afghanistan and in Iraq (Obviously, for Iraq, the figure has to be applied retrospectively. Not a problem.)

The first item, from the British Telegraph, usually a good source, does not endorse the claim but clearly attributes it. It turns out that the claim was made by a retired general named Steve Anderson. I think no one at all seconded him. It turns out from the Telegraph piece and, more clearly, from the third source, NPR (of all things) that the retired general had an ax to grind. He had been struggling in vain to make the higher brass accept the idea of insulating military tents with foam. It appears from the NPR report that the general had “green”concerns among other concerns of a more directly military nature. (This is not statement on whether the general was right about the foam.)

The Telegraph story gives figures that put the total annual cost of the wars in Afghanistan and in Iraq in past years at 171 billion,or possibly at 180 billion. ( I am correcting a little upward for a given Iraq estimate based on 2011, a low year). Thus according to the same report in the Telegraph, air conditioning would account for something like 1/9th of American military expenditures for the two theaters of war together. Assuming a run-of-the mill underestimate of the total costs of war, air-conditioning would still eat up around 1/10th (ten per cent) of the whole.

That’s ridiculous, of course, but it may make sense sense if you keep in mind that the general was trying to prove a point. His accounting involves imputing to air conditioning some unknown fraction of the very high expenses naturally incurred when moving large amounts of freight over physically difficult, undeveloped terrain and under the constant threat of military attack.

Again, it’s no clear what formula you would use to attribute a fraction of the total transport expenditure to air conditioning. I note with interest though that if there were zero air conditioning in both countries, the transportation costs of everything else (ammunition, aviation fuel, trucks, parts, food) would probably amount to pretty much the same total. This is all a little fishy.

Yet, the idea of distributing the cost of an infrastructure across all users makes sense; it’s even quite intelligent, in fact. Perhaps, it’s a practice that should be adopted whenever market forces are lacking to tell us the true price of things. But at this point, it’s a highly unusual way of presenting information. It leads to false comparisons. (See above.) And, think of an apple grown in Washington state and transported to New York City to be sold there. If there were no market to tell me the true price of this apple, I am pretty sure that, with General Anderson’s accounting method, I could probably present the New York cost of that single apple as a cool $10 or more.

Note again that no one with credentials equal to those of General Anderson seems to have confirmed his A.C estimate. The Pentagon gave some alternative figures that NPR (of all sources) faithfully reproduces. There is every reason to believe that the Pentagon, a government agency, has to rely on conventional accounting methods. The Pentagon made these two relevant statements:

1     It spends annually for energy $15 billion for all its military operations around the world. “Energy” involves much more than air conditioning, obviously. The whole wold is a lot more than Iraq and Afghanistan.

2   It gives recent figures for fuel costs for Afghanistan alone equivalent to about $2.4 billion annually. It’s difficult to imagine that fuel for air conditioning specifically constitutes more than a fraction of all the fuel used in that theater of war including for trucks, cars, and especially, for airplanes. It seems reasonable to think that the air conditioning expense for Afghanistan is a small fraction of 1/10th of the amount advanced by General Anderson.

Now, if you think the Pentagon is lying here although it is one of most watched organizations in the world, you must either admit that there is no way to obtain this kind of information or, alternatively, you have better sources. If you do, please share them, don’t hog them, please!

I think that what happened with the bombastic allegation by Congressman Ron Paul is that the information came from some people on his overenthusiastic staff. As is often the case with enthusiasts, they didn’t take the time to study the very documents they use to shore up their pre-conceived notions. I persist in thinking that Mr Paul himself does not crack the whip on helpers with respects to such peccadilloes as saying “10” for “much less than 1.” Congressman Paul and his staff are, at minimum, unusually credulous. I am not sure I would not prefer that they lied like many other politicians and their organizations.

If you insist in spite of everything on believing the absurd 20 billion figure, you might at least console yourself with the thought that the estimated cost of the recent US military intervention in Libya was only 1/20th as much as the cost of air conditioning the war in Afghanistan and Iraq in a hot year, with full personnel. The liberation of Libya was a steal, I would say!

(This last info is from The Week, the third source Crackpot provided in a futile attempt to overcome implausibility.)

I am not sure whether you will be able to activate the links below that Crackpot sent me. If you can’t, perhaps Crackpot will oblige again.

The UK’s Telegraph on $20 billion a year for air conditioning (which we’ve already gone over a number of times):http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/8601975/US-spends-12.5-billion-a-year-on-air-con-in-Iraq-and-Afghanistan.html

The Week on $20 billion a year:http://theweek.com/article/index/216786/the-militarys-20-billion-air-conditioning-bill-by-the-numbers

And, last but not least, NPR drops the $20 billion bomb:http://www.npr.org/2011/06/25/137414737/among-the-costs-of-war-20b-in-air-conditioning

About jacquesdelacroix

I am a sociologist, a short-story writer, and a blogger (Facts Matter and Notes On Liberty) in Santa Cruz, California.
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16 Responses to Ron Paul’s 20 Billion On Military A.C. – N. S.!

  1. Hahah! This is a very complicated response.

    Just to be clear: are you saying that Ron Paul lied about the $20 billion spent on air conditioning, or that he invented the number – out of thin air – or what?

    • jacquesdelacroix says:

      Brandon: I suspect you did not read the piece. RP did not invent the figure. He borrowed uncritically if from a general who was making totally absurd statements. The figure is grossly false. Ron Paul is irresponsible in his use of facts.

      See my next posting on contributions fro the military.

  2. Sergey Nikiforov says:

    R.P. is off by a mile here. So what?

    For 2011, it’s estimated that $50.84 billion would be spent on our pets in the U.S.

    Estimated Breakdown:
    Food $19.53 billion
    Supplies/OTC Medicine $11.4 billion
    Vet Care $14.11 billion
    Live animal purchases $2.15 billion
    Pet Services: grooming & boarding $3.65 billion

    I say, if your beloved schnauzer can turn $19.53 billion into a steaming pile of dog shit, then, we, as a nation, can spend at least that much on keeping our soldiers cool.

    And, by the way, I like R.P.’s frivolous treatment of facts and logic. He makes Obama look pedantic.

  3. Hahah! I read your piece on military donations and it was as petty and effeminate as this one.

    Ron Paul has not made anything up. To put this in perspective: Mitt Romney has said ObamaCare saved Massachusetts money. Newt Gingrich has said the Palestinians are a made-up nation.

    Both probably have some kernal of truth in them, but they don’t give a shit about truth because they are running for President!

    You are being extremely petty in your critiques of Ron Paul. You don’t like his foreign policy, so perhaps you could address that instead of – like a bored housewife – trying to stir up gossip where there is none…

    • jacquesdelacroix says:

      Crackpot: Listening to Ron Paul through most debates and paying special attention to him because he is the “libertarian” candidate, I became convinced that he is cracked, that he lives in an alternate reality.

      Bragging multiple times about 1,400 donations (from the military) is insane, even if it is true that the other guy got only 55. Both figures are insignificant. If you think that’s “petty,” it’s difficult to argue with you about anything. I want to believe that you confused “meticulous” and “petty.”

      Now, about your own rationality: Do you think that the US currently has a blockade against Iran as I heard Paul say twice? This is a straight “Yes” or “No” question. I hope I will find either word in your answer, if any.

      Obviously I don’t like his fantasies about foreign policy, I make, I made no mystery of it. That’s the cultish part of his presentation of self. It’s not a good time to combat this particular widespread libertarian delusion. I am trying to warn people who may be new to politics. I expect such people to know already about garden-variety politicians’ lies such as the ones you mention. Ron Paul’s utterances are different because he sounds sincere. (I think he is sincere.)

      Thank you for your attention. I hope you will soon shed your preoccupation with sexual identity.

      • Hahah! Does Ron Paul – my homie and candidate of choice, by the way – have more campaign donations from the military or not? Likewise, did the press publish reports that the Pentagram spent twenty billion on air conditioning or not?

        Paul was probably referring to the sanctions against Iran. I doubt he said such a thing twice. You sometimes make things up when it comes to Ron Paul. He bumbles sometimes on stage. That’s why I like him so much. In fact, that’s why I like seniors in general so much.

        Speaking of which, I don’t think you are too interested in fighting “wars for humanity”. It is just a hunch, of course, but I have never heard you call for US troops or bombs to be directed towards the Congo Basin. It is the site of the most horrific war since World War Two. All I ever read on here is how we need to fight Serbians and Muslims…

      • jacquesdelacroix says:

        To Brandon (Crackpot):

        You agree that Ron Paul does not know the difference between ordinary sanctions and a blockade, a regular act of war. No big deal, right?

        I have no idea if Ron Paul received more donation from the military than others or not. Neither does he know if the best source is the one sent to me by Martin Anding. That source gives figures that convince me that its tally, or its reporting, are so flawed as to be worthless or worse.

        The “press” did publish reports that the Pentagon spent 20 billon dollars on air conditioning bla, bla, bla. The “press” also published reports about possible alien landings. I expect statesmen to be able to discriminate between the grossly false and the merely vague. Some figures are not believable not matter what the source might be. This one had a bad source.

        Ron Paul, and his entourage, and his followers, don’t seem to know the difference because they don’t care, as if they were a cult. The demonstration is over as far as I am concerned. I keep repeating myself. I can’t imagine anything I would say that would cause you to reply, ” Worth checking.” Can you? I am too experienced to continue long arguing with other people’s religious beliefs.

  4. Speaking of cultists: do you believe that the War in Iraq – the one initiated by GWB – was a successful government enterprise?

    If you can’t be bothered to Google the three-word phrase “Ron Paul donations” I don’t know why you would bother to take into account the hundreds of thousands of dead Iraqis that were murdered as a result of GWB’s pompous war.

    I am tired of arguing with your imagination. Economic sanctions are an act of war. Just ask the Japanese.

    • jacquesdelacroix says:

      Before Brandon (Crackpot) left here in a huff and a puff, he gave me advice in an indirect and indignant way. Of course, I try to stay open-minded and it’s possible I made a mistake,even a big mistake. So, I Googled “Ron Paul military donations,” as Brandon advised. I opened the first three references given. That a lot for a sunny Friday afternoon and prompted only by people who keep giving me weaker and weaker comebacks.

      Those three references gave me the same perplexing nonsense, except with less precision, than the reference I discussed in
      my recent posting, “Military Swarm Over Ron Paul’s Campaign….”

      One of the references obtained through this method, Yahoo News, happily informed me that Ron Paul received in donation from members of the armed forces: $17,432. N.S. !!!!!!! Of course, I don’t believe it for a second. I would bet that either Ron Paul received ten times this amount or that this is an old item from the first month of this campaign( What I read was undated.) At any rate, here again, there is not reason to grant any credibility to these numbers. None!

      Fortunately, the third source, OpenSecrets, said the real figure was $95,567. (I ponder the 7.) That’s better but still absurdly small given that the relevant base of voters is between 1,500,000 and 2,000,000.

      It’s too bad Crackpot-Brandon did not give better methodological guidance before slamming the door. He might even have given me a source, the source on which he relies. I don’t know why he did not.

      • Usually when I deal with whores I get some sort of nookie out of them, so you’ll have to forgive me for being so terse. Also I am responding on my phone because I got rid of my laptop to feed myself.

        I’ll ask again: soes Ron Paul have military donations than the other candidates? Did the press release a statement on twenty billion for ac?

        That’s all fair game in election season. By the way, I trust the “green” general more than Daddy Warbux…

      • jacquesdelacroix says:

        Brandon: Your completely unnecessary rudeness speaks for itself. It’s the prefect demonstration of frivolousness one would need to confirm the impression made by Paul’s supporters lack of any ability to dismiss my statements about his and their inattention to facts..

        I am sorry you had to sell your laptop. I was a poor student too. I did not have laptop to sell “to fee” myself. I earned money as a cleaner instead.

  5. This is what I mean about arguing with your imagination. Ron Paul gets more military donations than any other candidate, right? Likewise, the press reported that $20 billion gets spent annually on air conditioning, right?

    Then Ron Paul hasn’t made anything up. He has not invented anything. Everything he has said in the televised debates has been legitimate, which is more than we can say about the Mullah from Pennsylvania or Freddie Mac’s historian.

    Now, your expertise on statistics ia very useful and hopefully it has helped some people figure out that Ron Paul is just another politician, but it hardly follows that Ron Paul is irresponsible or the leader of cult. It is politics as usual and you know it.

    To say stuff like that makes you sound like a suburban housewife who is angry about having to go on a family camping trip, so she is making bitter comments all through the trip so that everyone else knows what a bitch she can be.

    • jacquesdelacroix says:

      To Brandon: No “expertise” involved, just common sense. I will let you continue to hang yourself with your own words.

  6. I am not “hanging myself”.

    Look, I don’t know how much clearer I can make this: Ron Paul gets more donations from the military than any other candidate. Yes, the amount may be chump change to some, but facts are facts and RP is whooping everybody else in the field.

    We’ve already gone over the $20 billion. That amounts to 3-5% of the annual budget and takes into account all of the assorted costs. You’ll have to forgive me if I take a general “with an ax to grind” (your words not mine) over a press released by the Pentagon. Either way, $15-20 billion is a waste of money, and I am glad that there is someone honest enough to bring this sort of wasteful spending to the forefront of the debate.

    This reminds me of grocery shopping with an ex-girlfriend of mine…

  7. FactsMatter is nothing more than an outlet for a witless lispy rube that gets his panties in a wad over nothing and responds by suffocating hamsters in his distended rectum for pleasure. He’s undoubtedly happiest with a pair of hairy nuts on his chin when he’s not suffocating the truth for fun and profit (okay, the latter is obviously a stretch) on Al Gore’s internet. Is this the same “FactsMatter” that utilizes the moniker of the same name on news comments boards? If it is, it makes perfect sense. Facts apparently do matter, but they reside in a universe that can’t be viewed from here. And, btw, the hamsters deserved a better ending to their lives than you provided for them.

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