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Trillion-Dollar War

January 14, 2006

What goes into the cost of a war?  Soldier’s salaries, compensation, tanks, planes, munitions, rations, intelligence, lots of stuff; it’s all in the GAO report that Congress gets each year as they prepare to slip in their pet projects.  But that isn’t the whole story; the Pentagon sees only a fraction of the total cost of a war.

Soldiers in Iraq aren’t working at home, but their spouses are, and probably trying to manage children in the process.  When a soldier dies or is severely disabled, his whole life’s earnings go with him.  Economic activity spurred by that lost income is also lost.  Spouses and children may lose educational opportunities, default on mortgages, even go into debt as health insurance becomes scarce.  Guardsmen in Iraq aren’t home when hurricanes strike.  And since wars are fought on borrowed money, interest must be paid.  International trade suffers.  Every interconnected thread of the economy supports the loss, and many of the threads break.

“Scholars may differ in the minor details, but any serious study of the costs of the Iraq war will come to estimates in the neighborhood of $1 to $2 trillion,’’ said Joseph Stiglitz, editor of “The Economists’ Voice,’’ in a statement Thursday.

Stiglitz, a Nobel Laureate and former chief economist at the World Bank, published his own assessment of the cost of the Iraq War on Monday. Stiglitz’s paper was co-authored by Linda Bilmes of Harvard University…
- MercuryNews.com – Study puts ultimate cost of Iraq war at $1 Trillion

There are a lot of ways to frame the question; “What is the best use of a Trillion dollars?”  Other questions include; “What is the best use of our military flexibility, which is now tied down in Iraq?” and “What does accountability mean?”  How about “How much has our country been weakened by this debacle?” 

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  1. January 15, 2006 at 00:05 | #1

    These type of studies don’t impress me. That trillion dollars didn’t disappear up in smoke. I believe that production lost by the national guardsmen is picked up by someone else. Wars cost money but the money is spent by government and is put into the economy. Unemployment is down to a pre-9-11 levels and the Dow Jones is pushing the 11,000 mark. The economy is growing at an acceptable pace although not as fast as I expected from a war.

    Keep in mind that the USA was still in a depression at the start of World War 11. The economy recovered during the war due to the massive input of money into it by government. Then, when the war was over we went into a recession only to revive with the event of the Korean war. It was the same during the years of the Vietnam conflict and the same recession coupled with stagflation during the years after the Vietnam conflict ended.

    In fact, one could almost make an argument that although the wars cost money they are good for the economic health of the country. However, the fact that most of the money spent to fund the wars is borrowed money refutes that argument.

  2. January 15, 2006 at 13:52 | #2

    The economy recovered during the war due to the massive input of money into it by government.

    All government spending fits under that rubrick. Congratulations! you just crafted an argument in favor of Big Government.  :red: 

    However, the fact that most of the money spent to fund the wars is borrowed money refutes that argument.

    Whew! that was close.  Give me a ‘tax-and-spend’ liberal any day over a ‘borrow-and-spend’ conservative.  But wait – borrowing money is not a conservative thing to do!  I can only conclude that the people currently in power are NOT conservatives, but they certainly aren’t liberal either.  What are they, exactly?

    Some people go ‘hot-button’ on abortion, or gun control, or gay marriage.  I go hot-button on deficit spending.

  3. January 15, 2006 at 22:10 | #3

    The ones who call themselves republicans now are damn sure not conservatives unless pushing the agenda of the religious right is conservative. And, the people who lead the democratic party are not liberals in the sense of the word that I use liberal. They are socialists. I remember when liberal meant more of wanting to insure liberty. Now it means tax hell out of the producers and give it to the non producer. Come to think about it, isn’t that what the republicans are doing to? Maybe they are the liberals

  4. January 15, 2006 at 22:16 | #4

    It’s all so confusing.  But I feel silly wishing politicians would be honest.  Kind of like wishing it’d be warmer in winter and cooler in summer.

  5. January 15, 2006 at 22:19 | #5

    “I go hot-button on deficit spending.”

    I go hot-button on deficient spending when it is used for income redistribution to social engineer the public.

    I can understand that at times government may need to borrow money to fund a big project-and maybe some other than defense are worthwhile. But such programs as earned income tax refunds and subsidized housing and other social welfare programs not only are ripping off the ones who earn the money it has created a sub culture of generations of welfare recipients that are a drain on the economy. Of course the monet taken from the producers and given to the non-producers actually stays in the economy. It is just that the non-producers drag the economy down because they could be producing instead of looting. Yeah, I am a Randian libertarian.

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