Your tax dollars at work
Nevada, with the highest rate of uninsured children in the nation, could have insured 300,000 children for the price of the Iraq war and Iraqi reconstruction. So say two activists who have posted an online meter showing each state what they could have done with war funding.

The meter is like the Census Bureau meter that clocks off the growth in the population of the United States. At press time, the meter showed that the war’s cost had crossed the $116 billion mark and that $690 million of that has been contributed by Nevada taxpayers—about $310 per Nevada resident so far. However, since Nevada’s total population figure includes non-taxpaying children and miscellaneous other non-taxpayers like prison inmates, the actual bill of each actual taxpayer would presumably be higher.

The Web page, at www.costofwar.com, then breaks that money down into categories, like children’s health insurance. At press time, it said Nevada could have used its share of the war funding to pay for about 98,000 children to attend a year of Head Start, or hire approximately 14,000 more public school teachers, or 18,000 full-ride four year college scholarships, or build 10,000 housing units.

An explanation of the methodology for the meter’s calculations is given, and the authors then say they have not been able to be as precise as they would have liked.

“We intended to adjust these numbers when the Defense Department released more recent figures on actual costs, but the Defense Department has frustrated the efforts of Congress and the American people (who are, after all, the ones paying for the war) by not providing information on what has been spent. As a result, we have been forced to rely on what the Administration has asked for and what Congress has allocated for military operations in Iraq.”

Posted at the top of the home page is President Eisenhower’s famous April 1953 statement on military spending:

“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.”

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Dennis Myers

Dennis Myers was the news editor of the Reno News & Review. He was a journalist for more than four decades. In 1987-88 he was chief deputy secretary of state of Nevada. He was coauthor of Uniquely...