Thursday, June 23, 2005

cost of war

although i'm certain there is some benefit to the iraq war, i think it is so small compared to its cost that it may as well not exist at all. indeed, the cost may well be incalculable. we can, however, calculate a lower bound: the cost of the war in iraq is at least the amount of money we (the people and taxpayers of the united states) have paid to wage it. reasonable estimates place this figure at about $178 billion, increasing at a rate of $6 billion per month. (to stare at the number like the "total sale" rotary counters at the gas pump, go to

there are several other sources of cost, though, some of them a bit hidden. for instance, what is the opportunity cost of spending that money? in other words, what else could we have spent it on, and what would we have gained from the alternate choice that we do not gain in this case? my answer may be different than yours because i always tend to think that education (whether my own, or others') is the best long-run investment decision. so, if i were president, we would have paid for 1,000 school teachers for each of the 50 states for 50 years with that money.

50 states x 1,000 teachers x $71,400 per teacher x 50 years = $178,500,000,000
seventy-one thousand per teacher includes costs like retirement benefits, health care costs, insurance coverage, subsidized school supplies, etc.

if you were just slightly more intelligent than the grand poo-bah w himself, you might have simply given it back to everyone in the form of tax breaks or a simple check in the mail. that's about $600 for every man/woman/child in america. boy i could sure use that money right about now...

the human cost is also high. more than 1,700 soldiers have died in the war, according to, with at least 13,000 wounded. iraqbodycount tries to keep a tally of iraqi civilian deaths - they place the number at between 22,000 and 25,000.

keep in mind that much of this is needless. for proof, look no further than the now-infamous downing street memo.


Anonymous JAC said...

Of course, you also could go back to the Old & New Testaments and cite theological & other reasons why a war such as this is "useless."

And, you can go out in field somewhere in western Maryland where you are not bothered by urban light and look up in the sky. Then, trying to count the stars, ask the simple question "Why? -- and see what the answer is!

Just a little more for rumination -- not ruination!

1:33 PM  

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