Thursday, February 28, 2008
Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz estimates the cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to the United States alone will exceed $ 3 trillion -- yes that is not a typo, that is a "t" trillion. His new book, “The Three Trillion Dollar War,” co-authored with Harvard University professor Linda Bilmes, will be released tomorrow. They argue that the cost to America of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan has been vastly underestimated. Indeed when factors such as interest on debt, future borrowing for war expenses, a continued military presence in Iraq and lifetime health-care and counseling for veterans are counted, the wars’ cost to the United States ranges from $5 - $ 7 trillion. The book's estimates are the subject of a hearing today by the Joint Economic Committee of Congress. McClatchy News
Obviously $ 3 trillion dollars is real money -- but what could we have bought for $ 3 trillion dollars? The entire US government budget for the next year. Reduction of the national debt by 30%. Or how about something that would actually expand US influence throughout the world -- providing full funding for the entire cost of meeting the Millenium Development Goal of reducing by half the number of people who lack safe drinking water and sanitation is $ 11.3 billion per year for 10 years. Perhaps supplying everyone in the world with safe drinking water and sanitation might cost three times that. So for 10% of the cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan we could have saved about 1 million lives per year that are lost to water-borne diseases, provided water for 2 billion people, and sanitation for 4 billion people. And we worry about the genocide in Darfur, Sudan.....