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July 16, 2008

Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki – Handing Out Cash In Iraq?

Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and other top Iraq officials are handing out cash. There is no catch. Cash is being handed out to people to help ease the woes that comes with living in a country caught in economic and political crossroads. Payments can not exceed $8,000 and no one can receive more than one payment.

As power outages strike neighborhoods on a daily basis and the water that comes out of the tap is often not fit for consumption, many people are in dire need. The cash handouts are supposed to be a way to help people get basic services going again. The economy needs to be jumpstarted and the cash hand outs are meant to do that.

The American public is ailing with economic woes of it’s own. This handing out of cash may seem like the way to get the economy going in Iraq but is that really the answer? According to some Iraqi officials money is not the problem. Instead, a weak government, fears of favoritism and the threat of corruption and the continuation of random violence are the real issues.

So the money is being doled out in hopes that the public will be reassured of the government and help boost the economy. The United States is also giving money to Sunni militants as a reward for leaving al Qaeda. Iraq is also spending hundreds of millions of dollars to rebuild several cities destroyed in the war. They will spend $100 million dollars a piece to rebuild Sadr City, Basra and Amarah. They will also use $83 million dollars to return refugees to their homes.

Then there is the fear of favoritism. Cities that are made up of Sunnis and Kurds may not get as much attention as cities were Shiites live. However, cold hard cash is something that tends to when you friends. As the payments are handed out personally by the prime minister it is likely that he will win respect and loyalty from some. However, how will the money be spent? Will people go out and buy necessities or will they store that money for very lean times? Will the cash handouts jumpstart the economy and will people be able to improve their lives with the money?

Hopefully the money handouts will truly help the people of Iraq improve their current living standards. Many people need back up generators for their homes because of the daily power outages. However, the majority of the cash handouts will be between $200-400 dollars. People that have need medical care and widows that do not have jobs are not going to get too far with those sums of money. Giving boys forty bucks to buy soccer balls is nice but there needs to be a little bit more than that going on.

Giving money to people directly can have a number of different effects. The government must keep a tally of the handouts and the large amounts need documentation of dire need. Reconstructing Iraq will take money but plan and structure are also important.

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