Sunday, February 11, 2007

Brother Can You Spare Twelve Trillion Dimes?

Conservative estimates on the cost of the Iraq war including things such as health care, lost productivity of returning vets, replacing machinery and the like, is about $1,200,000,000,000. That is a heck of a lot of zeroes there. One trillion and two hundred billion dollars. Estimates of up to two trillion are not that radical as well.
Today I started trying to come to terms with these numbers. What could have been done instead? John Edwards' plan for National Health care could have been funded for over a decade with no new revenue streams for one example.

Dave Leonhardt in the NY Times suggested that thirty-five billion a year, could have given universal pre-school to all three and four year olds in our country. I just looked up at Wal-Mart's website. They are selling 60W equivalent 13w GE CFL bulbs for $9.88 a six pack. You could send two six packs each to the 100 million American homes and take a serious chunk out of our coal burning usage. That would cost just under two billion dollars. Heck send everybody eighteen while we are at it. They can trade with their friends if they don't actually have eighteen light fixtures.

How about we throw in tankless water heaters to every home as well? Those are now running for some models for $1,000, heck splurge for two per home. Give two of those to every home for 200 billion or so. So we would have about a trillion left to spend after giving away the lightbulbs and the tankless water heaters. Amazing when you think about it. This is how much money is being wasted in Iraq. We could make a serious dent on social problems, environmental waste, infrastructure, all of these things that there isn't room in the budget for, if we had the same will to do these things as we had going into Iraq.

What things could you see us spending these kind of resources on instead of this war?