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Hitchens on Perverse Headlines

The plight of under-employed Iraqi gravediggers isn’t the half of it:

One day I will publish my entire collection of upside-down Iraq headlines, where the true purport of the story is the inverse of the intended one. (Top billing thus far would go to the greatest downer of them all: the tale of Iraq’s unemployed gravediggers, their always-insecure standard of living newly imperiled by the falling murder rate. You don’t believe me? Wait for the forthcoming anthology.) While you wait, you might consider last week’s astonishing report about the Iraqi budget surplus and the way in which the report was reported.

Largely attributable to the bonanza in oil prices, to new discoveries of oil since the eviction of Saddam Hussein, and to the increasing success of Iraqi exports via the pipelines to Turkey, this surplus could amount to as much as $79 billion by the end of this year. A good chunk of that money is sitting safely in a bank in New York. I would call this good news by any standard, though of course I understand the annoyance of Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., and others involved in the auditing of Iraq, who complain that all the unspent wealth is a bit much, given the heavy outlay from the U.S. treasury for the rebuilding of Mesopotamia.

Iraq has a budget surplus. Russia has a flat tax. Americans can’t take our own oil out of the ground. This is depressing. 

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