2007 September 22 Saturday
Afghanistan And Iraq War Costs Hit $200 Billion Per Year

The cost of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars is now running at about $666 per American citizen. Er, 666. Superstitious anyone?

The request will total nearly $200 billion to fund the war through 2008, Pentagon officials said. If it is approved, 2008 will be the most expensive year of the Iraq war.

U.S. war costs have continued to grow because of the additional combat forces sent to Iraq in 2007 and because of efforts to quickly ramp up production of new technology, such as mine- resistant trucks designed to protect troops from roadside bombs. The new trucks can cost three to six times as much as armored Humvees.

Of course, lots of people (e.g. children, prisoners, the unemployed, and those with low pay) do not pay any federal income taxes. Others do not pay very much. So if you are a member of the ranks of net taxpayers (that dwindling breed of those who pay more in taxes than they get in benefits) then you are paying thousands of dollars per year for the Iraq Debacle.

That $200 billion total includes money for Afghanistan. Well the United States has about 27,000 soldiers in Afghanistan and 169,000 in Iraq. That suggests well over 80% of the war costs are for Iraq.

The war spending is in addition to the base Pentagon budget.

During that period, Congress will be debating the administration's new war request, and potentially some additional wiggle room could be provided if Democrats complete action on the regular $460 billion fiscal 2008 Defense appropriations bill in that timeframe.

Note that the $200 billion per year for Iraq does not include expenses that we are incurring for Iraq that will come due for decades to come. For example, every disabled veteran will have medical costs and many of the more severely disabled will have assisted living costs such as live-in nursing help. Plus, those coming back damaged in mind and body will produce less in jobs and therefore won't pay taxes or generate as much wealth. SO there are opportunity costs. Plus, the war is being funded with debt and we will be paying that debt for years to come as well.

Another cost of the Iraq war is the overuse of soldiers who are in bad shape.

BURTON -- In a ranch home where wind chimes tinkle in the breeze and Marine Corps and American flags flap high outside, Cpl. Bryan Antkowiak has been settling into a new life.

He's spending time with wife Kim and daughter Emma, the blonde, bubbly 3-year-old whose birthdays he's missed. He's trying to treat degenerative disc disease, and starting a new job at General Motors.

But two years after leaving Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, the Marine -- whose family says is considered by Veteran's Affairs to be 30 percent disabled -- is being sent to the Middle East involuntarily as an inactive reservist.

The amputees and other permanently disabled are an especially important cost of the Iraq war.

Dawn Halfaker is a native of San Diego. She was 27 and a first lieutenant in the Army. Her right arm and shoulder were amputated in an explosion. She suffered lung damage and multiple internal shrapnel injuries. She says: "My dark memories are inescapable; they are the fiber that shaped the threads of my new life, and I must accept them for what they are and persevere through them."

Jay Wilkerson, 41, an Army staff sergeant from El Sobrante, Calif., suffers long- and short-term memory loss. He has lost the use of eight fingers, and the left side of his body is damaged. His two children call him daily at the hospital. "They call to make sure I'm OK," he says, "and it's weird, because I'm the parent. But they call me to make sure I'm OK." Then he laughs.

Our soldiers are losing body parts in a futile attempt to make the Iraqis stop their civil war.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2007 September 22 04:58 PM  Mideast Iraq Costs

John S Bolton said at September 23, 2007 12:28 AM:

That's a rare event, to see mention in print of the existence of the net taxpayers, and a good one.
All schemes to use government to spend other people's money rely on the entire literate population
knowing without being told, that it is hopelessly gauche and perhaps career-wrecking to mention the net taxpayer.
Here's another shot at a quick resolution:
have political officers fan out and make clear that we have a Sunniland in mind, which requires their sheikhs to declare for secession,
specify the boundaries, including an equal share of oil reserves connected to the main area of Sunniland through a desert corridor,
recognize the new government for that partition, a parliament of sheikhs under a competent terrorist-hunter
nominated by the US,
pursue non-violent ethnic cleansing, leaving minorities in place if not armed and actively hostile, withdraw from
rump Iraq as hostilities then would be underway with it, defending Sunni and Kurd states.

Wolf-Dog said at September 23, 2007 3:54 AM:

All the amputees, badly crippled soldiers, etc, are a boon to the medical industry. This is because ALL of the tax money that is spent on medical benefits to care for these casualties of war, simply goes to the bank accounts of the medical companies and doctors. Thus for every loser there is a winner. The financial "loss" in this war, is merely a transfer of wealth.

Let me make a small but connected digression that will disturb you even more: Why do you think the medical industry was so voraciously opposed to Dr Jack Kevorkian and other pro-dignity pioneers? Was it for moral reasons that emphasize the virtues of suffering unimaginable torments during the last few weeks of life? Absolutely not: The truth is that the life-sustaining equipment and all the medical care that is given to terminally ill patients during the last few weeks or months of life, happen to be the most expensive part of one's entire life in general. If you allow the disciples of Dr Kevorkian to commit such atrocities and blasphemies, then hundreds of billions of dollars of "work" that represent the income of the medical industry, will simply vanish. It is because of this money that the entire medical establishment demonized Dr Kevorkian. (End of digression...) But now, from what perspective do you think the medical establishment is looking at the terrible casualties and amputees from Iraq? Crocodile tears...

Same story with the military industries who make these armored trucks.

Bottom line: It's just a transfer of wealth, from one bank account to another. It's not a loss. Money does not evaporate, unless you are one of those people who light up cigars with a hundred dollar bill.

Bob Badour said at September 23, 2007 7:41 AM:

With all due respect, Wolf-Dog, when money that was previously in my pocket gets taken from me and spent on something I have no use or desire for or even harms me, I lost my money.

assetmgmt said at September 23, 2007 8:53 AM:

Uh, Wolf-Dog, you're treading dangerously close to committing Frederic Bastiat's "broken window fallacy." It's not a transfer of wealth; there are real opportunity costs.

I also think we're wasting time and money in Iraq, but the realiy is that $200 billion out of a *$13 trillion* economy (US GDP) is actually fairly insignificant (1.5%).

>>every disabled veteran will have medical costs and many of the more severely disabled will have assisted living costs such as live-in nursing help. Plus, those coming back damaged in mind and body will produce less in jobs and therefore won't pay taxes or generate as much wealth.

Again, pretty insignificant. In terms of medical costs, the numbers are too low. There are 200K soldiers deployed - even if 10% of them needed long-term care, that's just 10K. I have nothing but respect for our soldiers and God knows they do things I can't do, but in terms of future tax payments, the reality is that there are probably few future Bill Gates, or even just average millionaires, among them.

Probably the weakest argument against Iraq is that the costs are too high. In a sane world, the President would say "You know what, we tried. We gave these people four years to get their act together, but it turns out, they're savages, and I've come to learn that they're *not* like us. So we're pulling our troops back to a few bases in Iraq outside of the major cities to protect our interests in the region."

Wolf-Dog said at September 23, 2007 11:38 AM:

AssetManagement: You wrote "but the realiy is that $200 billion out of a *$13 trillion* economy (US GDP) is actually fairly insignificant (1.5%)."
This GDP thing is just a superficial way of looking at things. GDP is not the total financial wealth. The M2 money supply is $7.3 Trillion. But now please note that one year ago, M2 was approximately $6.8 billion. Thus within one year, M2 grew only by less than $500 billion. So if you look at the $200 lost to medical costs for the poor soldier victims of the Iraq war, then this is quite significant, not only because it is already 2.7 % of the M2 itself, but also it is almost 40 % of the growth of the M2. This is quite a drain on the economy, and as Bob Badour pointed out above, this transfer of wealth out of HIS account, is quite a disturbing and unwanted form of tax for him...

Anon said at September 23, 2007 12:58 PM:

If you want to find things that are an drain on the economy, quite a few of them were "marching" in Jena, LA last week. Not to mention the loss of life of productive people that these drains and tax eaters have caused. The current war is nothing compared to amount of money spent on a certain segment of the population with results that can only been seen as increasingly negative. The current war will end, as all wars do, but these savages will still be with us.

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