Neil Turner's Blog

Blogging about technology and randomness since 2002

$150 billion

Don’t know how much coverage this got in the states, but last week the total cost of the war in Iraq topped $150 billion (source: Cost of War).
And yet the total combined debt, including interest, owed by third world countries to the IMF, World Bank and western banks is around $70bn.
So America could have used the money to single-handidly write-off the debt of many countries, allowing them to concentrate on healthcare, education and infrastructure investment instead of debt repayments, and still have $80bn left over for the war. Which, interestingly, was only meant to cost $87bn in the first place. If you want to see what $87bn would look like in dollar bills, see this page.
In fact, if you take Afghanistan into account, the US has, thus far, spent well over $200bn of US taxpayers’ money on wars that have thus far yet to find any weapons of mass destruction (to the point at which US forces have now given up the search), nor Osama bin Laden himself.
I’m reminded of this partly by this year’s Make Poverty History campaign, but also this entry by Les about his cousin Diane. She was one of 45 million Americans (16% of the population) who cannot afford health insurance. She died of pneumonia, a disease that is so easily treated that you rarely hear about people dying from it these days. Unfortunately she couldn’t afford a visit to a doctor for a diagnosis.
If only some of that money had been diverted into setting up a welfare state for all US citizens. We Brits have managed to keep the NHS going for the past 60 years, so I’m sure America could pull something off. There are 45 million people out there in the world’s richest country who simply cannot afford to be ill. That just isn’t right.
incidentally it’s Cover the Uninsured Week from April 30th until May 8th. I know quite a few of you are reading this in the US so you might want to check it out.


  1. Unfortunately, it’s doubtful America would have even thought about writing off 3rd world debts.
    And no doubt we’ll have another war on our hands courtesy of the world’s village idiot in the near future.

  2. Yep. It’s probably only a matter of time before Iran or North Korea gets attacked. Or France…
    A friend of mine has a t-shirt, which I think is advertising the band NOFX, which has the message “There’s a village in Texas missing its idiot” on it. It’s funny, but also very, very true.

  3. Here’s a lovely thought…
    The Presidents “inauguration” party is going to cost a mere $40,000,000. This for a ceremony that is mostly pointless since he was President last term.
    Jeeze, four more years of this kind of spending. The US is going to turn into one of those third world countries we all hear about soon!

  4. $150 Billion

    That’s the total cost of the war in Iraq as of last week (source: Cost of War via Neil). Neil goes through the full story in this post and links to a page which shows what $87 billion dollars (the amount originally planned to be spent) looks like.