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If we had known then ...

July 8, 2014 - Jim Anderson
Back in 2000, Goofy C. Foresight (the “C” stands for “Checkwriter”), an independent U.S. presidential candidate, made an outrageous proposal.

“The U.S. Treasury, under my direction, will send a check for $100,000 to every man, woman and child in Iraq and Afghanistan,” Foresight said. “I know it sounds silly, but I have a hunch it will save trouble down the road.”

Foresight got no votes.

He is, after all, fictitious. But how much of a fool?

Taking factors such as the care of wounded veterans into account, the cost of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq may approach $6 trillion. That’s according to a study published last year by Harvard public policy professor Linda J. Bilmes. Six trillion dollars works out to nearly $100,000 per person in the nations of Iraq and Afghanistan, which have a combined population of about 62 million.

Here’s a qualifier. If we scratch the war cost down to the $1.57 trillion that’s been directly allocated, it works out to just $25,000 per person in the two nations.

But there's also this. Afghanistan has an annual gross domestic product of a mere $1,100 per capita, while Iraq’s is about $7,100 per capita. (In the U.S. it’s nearly $53,000.)

Going back to the $6 trillion ... that could essentially be enough to replace the entire economies of both Iraq and Afghanistan for, oh, about a dozen years.

Possible? Or simply goofy.



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