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Iraq War Spending Vs. Education Spending

Jul 16, 2007

The Iraq war is costing the nation's taxpayers an astounding $186,000 per minute-every minute of every day. If the money had been spent on education versus warring, here's what your hard earned tax dollars could have bought.

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Where Do Your Tax Dollars Go?

Different states and even different cities distribute tax dollars differently. Here is an example of how the taxes paid by a median income family in San Francisco are spent:

Sector $ Spent %
Military $1,731 27%
Health $1,329 21%
Debt Interest (Non-Military) $657 10%
Debt Interest (Military) $580 9%
Income Security $383 6%
Education $289 5%
Veteran's Benefits $214 3%
Nutrition $167 3%
Housing $119 2%
Natural Resources $97 2%
Job Training $19 0%
Other $790 12%

Source: NationalPrioritiesProject.org

As you can see, military, interest on debt, and health account for two-thirds of every income tax dollar spent.

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What if the Money Spent on Financing the War was Instead Spent on Education?

The war in Iraq has cost a whopping $443.7 billion*. More than half of the people in the U.S. and most of the people in Iraq strongly oppose the war, yet the fighting and the spending continue.

Every state in the U.S. has contributed funds that were greatly needed elsewhere. One great example is Oklahoma. This not particularly wealthy state has spent over $6.7 billion on Iraq in only four years.

If this money could have been spent on education instead, it could have bought four-year college scholarships for 325,624 Oklahoma students-not bad considering less than 45,000 students graduated from an Oklahoma high school this year.

Nationally, the figures are just as distressing; here's what the money spent on Iraq could have provided in the U.S.:

  • 21,510,598 full four-year scholarships to public universities
  • 7,689,734 new public school teachers
  • 58,770,981 chances for children to attend head-start

The money could have purchased health insurance policies for 265,701,285 uninsured people or housing for 3,995,293 homeless families.


*Editor's note: This amount was precise at the moment of writing, but as the war is costing us an additional $186,000 per minute (every minute of every day), the true cost of the war is constantly increasing and therefore impossible to pinpoint.

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