Suppose for a minute that we had the $3 trillion* or so that the United States is spending on the Iraq war, and we could instead do something reasonable with all that wasted money. The first thing to immediately pop into my mind is, “Hey — instead of sending certain adults a piddly $600 tax rebate as a way to supposedly provide economic stimulus, plus $300 for kids under 17, the government could send every single person in America $10,000!”
Instead of the $1,800 my family is due to receive next month, we’d get $40,000. It would be like a “Get Out of Debt (Almost) Free” card for us. And although I’m feeling financially stressed right now, my family is in good shape compared to a large segment of our population — imagine what $10,000 per person would do for people who are losing their homes or trying to decide between putting a few gallons in the gas tank or putting food on the table.
Of course, Mr. Bush’s government would never dream of spending $3 trillion on helping Americans financially. No, that would somehow qualify as a Big Government Program that Must Be Avoided, kind of like spending a few billion on health care for poor children, or funding national Head Start or full-day kindergarten (or, for that matter, paying teachers a reasonable salary). Somehow it’s OK to throw away an unimaginable amount of money on a war we shouldn’t even be in, but spending that same money to benefit American citizens would be wasteful and wrong.
But enough ranting about what our government would or would not do with $3 trillion. Now, you can make your own choice about how to spend that pile of dough! Check out the $3 Trillion Shopping Spree. Go ahead: buy Amazon.com for $514,710,000.00; put up your own billboard in Times Square ($2,000,000.00); provide food, shelter, spay and neuter services, and vet care for all homeless, neglected, and unwanted pets in America for a year ($15,000,000,000.00); rehabilitate a water well and help provide safe drinking water for a family or town ($170.00); provide universal preschool — half days for 3 year olds and full days for 4 year olds — for all the children in America ($35,000,000,000.00); reduce class size in grades pre-K to 3rd grade to 10/per teacher, 4th-8th grade to 15/teacher, and 9th-12th grade to 20/teacher ($100,000,000,000.00); pay 1,000 teachers’ salaries ($39,274,000.00); or choose from thousands of other options. Add them to your virtual shopping cart, and then send the resulting list to your friends. Go on, knock yourself out: spending that much is easy! Just ask George W. Bush and his “Smaller Government, Less Wasteful Spending” friends.
* Here’s where the $3 trillion comes from:
- $526 billion — borrowed money poured into Iraq so far
- $615 billion — total interest costs for taxpayers
- $280 billion — to rebuild our military
- $590 billion — disability benefits and health care for Iraq veterans
- $1.5 trillion — estimated costs through 2017