Money money money….

Ignore all the sanctimony in political oratory. The most reliable guide to the real priorities of our elected officials is where they spend our money. Talk is cheap.

War, however, is very expensive.

A new study says the Iraq War has cost the United States $2 trillion. By the time all the veterans’ bills are paid, it will likely cost us up to $6 trillion.

Let that sink in for a moment. Per National Priorities, here’s an estimate of how much money is allocated for various programs in President Obama’s 2015 federal fiscal year budget:

Education: ~ $70 billion
Health: ~ $58 billion
Unemployment and labor: ~ $58 billion
Energy and Environment: ~ $35 billion
International Affairs: ~ $35 billion
Science: ~ $35 billion
Transportation: ~ $23 billion
Food and Agriculture: ~$11 billion

Think about what we could have done with $6 trillion. With a “t”. As in, one thousand billions.

Almost eight years ago David Leonhardt wrote about what $1.2 trillion could have bought, which was the estimated cost of the Iraq War at the time:

For starters, $1.2 trillion would pay for an unprecedented public health campaign — a doubling of cancer research funding, treatment for every American whose diabetes or heart disease is now going unmanaged and a global immunization campaign to save millions of children’s lives.

Combined, the cost of running those programs for a decade wouldn’t use up even half our money pot. So we could then turn to poverty and education, starting with universal preschool for every 3- and 4-year-old child across the country. The city of New Orleans could also receive a huge increase in reconstruction funds.

From City Hall to Washington, D.C., our elected officials have made it very clear where their priorities lie. And it isn’t with veterans’ health care, or education, or public safety or the many  admittedly dull public services that virtually all citizens believe government should provide.

Instead, too many of our lawmakers think they’ve been elected to tell everyone else how to live. At home, that means trying to control women, marginalize gay people and impose their narrow religious beliefs on others. Abroad, it means showing “strength” –which for people like Dick Cheney means spending trillions of dollars on wars of choice, and opting for military “solutions” to any and all problems.

I guess it’s more fun to play soldier than it is to make sure that our children are fed and our bridges don’t fail.


  1. Amen, Well said. Such waste. And then they “pretend” they are concerned about deficits and that OBAMA caused them. Sad

  2. President Eisenhower warned in his farewell address about the influence of Military-Industrial Complex. Before IKE another Marine Corp General Smedley Butler also warned about the profiteering by the armaments industry.

    Today we have a Wall Street-Security-Military-Industrial-Complex. A peace dividend had been hoped for after Vietnam but that never happened. We like to think of ourselves as a peace loving nation. Bottom line is the USA has engaged in more Wars, Coups and military interventions since World War 2 than any other Country on the Planet. We always find a new enemy. We like to think of ourselves as the descendents of Athenian Democracy but we follow the Philosophy of the Spartans. Indeed our soldiers are no longer called G.I.’s they are now Warriors.

    People who criticize our wars, interventions, etc, are labeled as being not sufficiently Patriotic. Support the Troops sloganeering fails to ask the bigger question of why we have placed them in harms way to begin with. One thing we can depend upon is the blowhards in Congress, their family members and the rest of the Neo-Cons will never be in the Front Lines.

  3. I am anti-war; but that is of no interest to politicians. Bush and Cheney put this country into Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan; President Obama is trying to remove our troops in a way that will not turn us into enemies of those countries and others for deserting them. The trillions spent to start and continue these wars and attempts to pay for the aftermath could have and should have been better spent. We cannot seem to take care of our own returning troops health-wise or job-wise due to a lack of funding and competent leadership in the VA. I understand but do not like the fact that removing our troops speedily from the above mentioned countries, would leave them with the destruction and death brought about by our invasion of them in the first place. There is no free lunch; we are today and for decades to come will be paying for the Bush/Cheney fiasco of more than 10 years ago and the GOP seems to be the biggest complainer of President Obama’s attempts to end what they began. I have not forgotten, nor will I let go of the fact, that Cheney gave approval to “out” CIA Agent Valerie Plame whose husband was one of the inspection team who did NOT find evidence of nuclear weaponery in Iraq and informed Bush and Cheney of these facts. That action endangered Ms. Plame’s life and the lives of her family; of little interest to Cheney who shot a friend in the face on a beer drinking hunting trip but left seeking help to the property owner. No matter the basis of an issue in this country; it always gets down to “follow the money”.

  4. Why? Citizens United, the Koch brothers, NRA, big pharma and all other monied lobbyists, businesses and individuals who are buying polltical positions en masse who are, in turn, repaying the favor.

  5. One word – “Greed”

    Chaney, wasn’t he on Halliburton’s payroll? + The modern military, that cannot feed itself. Food concession provided by private contractors etc, paid for by the Taxpayer no doubt. Twenty-Five Dollar ice creams all round, such a low price, have two. Better yet, take extra back to your comrades in arms.

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