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When I first read in the Washington Post about the Walter Reed scandal involving the mistreatment of soldiers returning to Iraq, I should've been surprised. I should be shocked that our President, a man who "supports the troops", would allow such a thing to happen, but after Hurricane Katrina and Iraq, all I can do is simply shake my head and sigh.

In today's NY Times Paul Krugman wrote an article about something that was also not very shocking. To no one's surprise, the veteran's hospitals have, of course, been privatized and care has severely restricted. For those of you who do not pay to see the editorial, here are just a couple points (in my words) that Mr. Krugman makes:

- Many services to our soldiers are no longer free. Now they must pay hundreds of dollars a month just for the food.
- Any soldier who is making over $27,000 and is not facing a combat-related condition or has not been in combat recently will be denied assistance.

This is all of course on top of the neglect of soldiers who have fought virtuously in Iraq only to be repaid with the stupidity of the Bush administration, who once again thought they could contract out the work of the government. The government can be messy and inefficient, but groups like FEMA and the Dept of Veterans' Affairs and THE US MILITARY were (and at least in the military still are) not known for being cold, uncaring, and being all about the dollar. At least under Clinton all three were able to work efficiently without Halliburton (two of the CEOs of the companies given private contracts were former Halliburton employees, go figure).

What this administration doesn't get, and what Walter Reed makes clearly obvious, is that there are some things that are best not to contract out. Outside companies are always looking to fatten their own wallets, and some things are best left to a government which isn't always looking for a profit (not to mention the brain drain at FEMA and Walter Reed caused by privatization). I think it's time we stop handing money over to people who want to get rich and start using it for the people who have needed it, Iraqis, Louisianans, and our soldiers.