The cost of the United States' wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have cost taxpayers more than one trillion dollars, a Massachusetts nonprofit said Sunday, marking a grim milestone on the eve of the Memorial Day holiday.
According to the group, the threshold was crossed Sunday at 10:06 am ET, based on Congressional appropriations for the wars. To date, the group notes, $747.3 billion has been appropriated for the U.S. war in Iraq and $299 billion for the war in Afghanistan.
The group, National Priorities Project, conveyed the size of US war spending by highlighting other things that could have been bought with the money. For example, for the price of America's two wars, the US could give $5,500 in Pell grants to all of America's 19 million college students for the next nine years. One trillion would also pay the entire healthcare bill for 294 million people, or 440 million children, the group says.
A billing pending in Congress will add another $37 billion to this year's spending.
In a press release posted Friday, the group gave a list of other considerations that could have been purchased for $1 trillion. Among them:
What Can You Get For $1 Trillion?
* Federal Funding For Higher Education -- $1 trillion would give the maximum Pell Grant award ($5,500) to all 19 million U.S. college and university students for the next 9 years.
* 294,734,961 people with health care for one year, or
* 21,598,789 public safety officers for one year, or
* 17,149,392 music and arts teachers for one year, or
* 7,779,092 affordable housing units, or
* 440,762,472 children with health care for one year, or
* 137,233,969 head start places for children for one year, or
* 16,427,497 elementary school teachers for one year, or
* 1,035,282,468 homes with renewable electricity for one year
The group also highlights the economic toll of war on local communities, by relating what could have been bought with the money that's been spent fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq.
A particularly notable example is the case of a nearby city that plans to cut its library budget this year. For the amount of money the city has devoted to war, it could have doubled its library budget and funded it for the next half-century.
Residents of Brooklyn, New York, meanwhile, could have received free renewable electricity for 19 years.
And this is just the money that's been extracted in taxes from those two communities. The group adds details and gives more examples:
Taxpayers in Natick, Massachusetts will pay $206.9 million for total Iraq and Afghanistan war spending since 2001. For that amount, instead of implementing a proposed 4 percent cut for Natick's libraries in 2011, the town could double its total current library budget, and pay for it for 56 years.
Taxpayers in the Borough of Brooklyn, New York will pay $9 billion for total Iraq and Afghanistan war spending since 2001. That's enough to supply renewable electricity to every household in Brooklyn for 19 years.
As college and university tuitions grow, community colleges are increasingly popular sources of affordable education. At Greenfield Community College in Massachusetts, for the cost of the Afghanistan war "surge" (est. $37 billion) you could cover all tuition and fees for all full- and part-time (half-time) students for the next 762 semesters (381 years).
WHAT DOES $1 TRILLION LOOK LIKE?
$1,000,000,000,000 ("1" and twelve zeros)
If you earned $1 million a year, it would take you 1 million years to earn $1 trillion.
In Dollar Bills:
If you converted $1 trillion into one dollar bills, and laid them end to end, it would reach 98 million miles. That's 4,000 times around the Earth. Its 205 trips to the Moon. And back. It's more than the distance to the Sun.
In Silver Dollars:
If someone handed you a silver dollar every second, it would take almost 32,000 years for them to hand you $1 trillion. Not that you could hold them - they'd weigh nearly 9 million tons.