Upper Left Coast

Thoughts on politics, faith, sports and other random topics from a red state sympathizer in indigo-blue Portland, Oregon.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

US just wants that oil money . . . for Iraqi salaries?

Jim Geraghty at National Review's TKS blog points out some good news from Iraq in (of all places) the New York Times from earlier this week. Here's a link to the story, as printed in the Indianapolis Star.

The line that the U.S. went to Iraq for oil is one of many, um, erroneous assumptions about that conflict. Instead, the oil is being sold on the world market, and the cash is being used to fund the Iraqi government. Since the Iraqi government doesn't have to fund wars and weapons, some of that money is going to increase the salaries of public-sector employees, which make up almost half of the Iraqi workforce.

Public-sector employees used to collect the equivalent of several dollars every month under Saddam Hussein. But since the American invasion, Iraq's oil revenue has helped these Iraqis to earn several hundred dollars a month. Gotta love a 100-fold salary increase.

The side benefit of that is that kids don't have to work to help their families get by, so the kids are free to go to school. In the last three years, the number of children enrolled in schools nationwide rose by 7.4 percent. The increase greatly outpaced Iraq's population growth during the same period. Some of the growth is due to families fleeing violent regions, but even violent regions are seeing growth.

"Fathers can provide food for their families," said Abdul Zahra al-Yasseri, a teacher in Karbala in southern Iraq. "Kids don't have to work to help their parents anymore."


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