Where has all your money gone? To a little place called Iraq...

Recently, I came across an interesting figure. Congressional analysts estimate that the United States is currently spending $12 billion a month on its overseas wars. According to Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes, co-authors of The Three Trillion Dollar War, an analysis of the U.S. interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan, the conflicts and subsequent occupations will end up costing the United States between $1.7 and $2.7 trillion dollars by 2017.

Frankly, I can't even imagine that much money. To be honest, I can't even wrap my mind around the buying power of $12 billion! Still, as we're nearing tax time, and as we're debating the cost of our upcoming "Economic Stimulus Package," I started to think about how much money $12 billion is. For research, I decided to check out a few other government programs to compare the relative cost of this war.

Of course, everybody's favorite foil for the military is education, so I decided to start there. While federal funding for education covers only 12% of the total cost, it is still quite significant. According to the Department of Education, Federal educational spending for school year 2007-2008 is $68.6 billion, or just over 46% of the yearly cost of the wars. To give another comparison, in 2007, the United States total spending on highways was $39.6 billion, or roughly 27.5% of the money spent on the two wars in the same period.