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Trillion Dollar Dreams: What Military Spending Could Buy

Islam Muhammad | 6/22/2010, 8:03 a.m.

The United States reached the $1 trillion mark in the costs of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq at the same time that the country recently surpassed one thousand deaths of American soldiers serving in Afghanistan.

Many feel with all the money spent America is not any safer, and argue war is a bad investment. In 2008 the U.S. approved $696.3 billion in defense budget spending, which includes funding for the Pentagon base budget, Department of Energy-administered nuclear weapons activities and supplemental appropriations for Iraq and Afghanistan.

The U.S. spends eight times more than Russia, 15 times more than Japan, 47 times more than Israel, and nearly 73 times more than Iran on national defense.

"When $1 trillion are spent on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, it is very telling of our national priorities. Those trillion dollars could pay for a year of health care for 300 million Americans, Pell grants for 188 million students, or 8 million units of affordable housing; the list goes on and on.

The trade offs are especially difficult to digest given the current economic recession the country is facing," said Jo Comerford, executive director of the National Priorities Project.

In California alone, taxpayers will shell out $132.6 billion for total Iraq and Afghanistan war spending since 2001. The state is facing a major decifit, job cuts, education cuts and service cuts.

"The amount of money that we've spent on these wars is tragic. With people losing their jobs and homes, our inability to provide basic health care to everyone, and a struggling economy, it is unfathomable that we have instead spent $1 trillion on these two wars that are not making us any more secure. We need to get our priorities straight," Robert Greenwald, director of Rethink Afghanistan.

National Priorities has a Facebook.com app that lets users decide how to spend $1 trillion. You could buy Dell, Inc., for $33.7 billion, help fund the Gulf spill clean up with $930 million or buy American Airlines for $25.2 billion.

What would you do with one trillion dollars?