Your War Bill

A new study by Joseph Stiglitz (go Columbia!) and Linda Bilmes estimates the cost, to the US, of the war in Iraq to be around $12 billion per month. This war isn’t nearly worth its cost lives, international reputation, and military morale; it’s been a devastating failure on those terms alone. But setting that aside, we still have to fund the continuing war, and it’s worth looking at what it’s costing us, in terms that are a little more personal, accessible, than just the abstract $144 billion we’ll spend in 2008.

I made some projections* on taxpayer numbers and tax revenues for 2008. There will be around 135.5 million taxpayers in 2008. To cover the $12 billion war-cost for Iraq each month, the average taxpayer must fork over more than $88. It’s going to cost him/her $1062.38 for the year

What’s that? You don’t think you’re an “average” taxpayer? You might be right. Think about this: the cost of the war will represent 14.6% of all tax revenues collected from taxpayers in 2008. So to adjust the cost to you, personally, think about what your personal tax bill will be in 2008 and take 14% of that number.

So if you earn $60K, pay taxes at around 18%, you’ll be paying $1,577 for the war. Or maybe you earn $100K and pay taxes at 22.5%; get ready to pay $3,286 for the Bush/McCain/Clinton war in Iraq.

So next time you see Hillary double-talking about her move to authorize troops in Iraq, ask yourself if you’re still OK spending $1,000, or $2,000, or $3,000, or much more every year for her war.

If you’d rather not pocket that money, maybe we could invest it elsewhere. According to the US Census Bureau, K-12 teachers in the US earn per-state averages between around $40K and $60K. There are projected to be 3.46 million teachers in the US in 2008. We could nearly double the salaries of teachers in this country if we took our $144 billion and applied it to education rather than war. That would also have the added benefit of building an electorate who is possibly smart enough not to elect George W. Bush to the presidency… twice.

* For taxpayer and tax revenue projections, I used data from the IRS. To estimate the number of US taxpayers in 2008, I took the number of taxpayers for TY 2005 and applied the average increase over the previous four years to project an expected number for 2008 (applied the average increase three times, to get from 2005 to 2008). To find the total tax revenues I used the same technique.

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