Ever Wondered How Much You’ve Paid In Tax Dollars for Our Endless Wars?

$23,386.

That’s how much you, the average American, have paid in taxes that went toward funding wars over the past 16 years.

That figure comes from Brown University’s Costs of War Project, a report compiled by 35 academics, doctors, lawyers and human rights advocates since 2011.

Admittedly, the report’s $5.6 trillion total price tag is about four times higher than the government’s own estimate, but that’s for a good reason: the Pentagon leaves off a lot of essential war-related expenses that it probably shouldn’t.

In their total, the researchers at Brown are counting additional but still relevant costs like the interest we accumulate when we borrow money for these wars, Homeland Security funds, repairing damaged infrastructure and the ongoing medical expenses for the soldiers who participate in these wars.

“The fact is we’ve been at war against terrorism since 2001, and 2 million more people have joined the VA who will require care for the next 40 years, which is an obligation that we can’t forget,” said Neta Crawford, who authored the research, told Buzzfeed.

As we add more and more troops to these engagements, we’re committing to covering lifetimes of care. That means not just worrying about the cost of various injuries and mental health coverage soldiers need when returning from war, but also the costs for elder care, which are quite expensive for everyone, civilians and veterans alike.

The longer we wage these wars, the more future expenses we’re guaranteeing, even if the government is conveniently leaving that out of the conversation. With the war on terror pushing forward, we’re only compounding the costs at this point.

That’s why, in addition to crunching the numbers, the Costs of War Project also poses some greater policy questions. The most important question being, are these expenses we’re racking up worth it?

Since 9/11, the U.S. military has attacked terrorist organizations in the Middle East without much success. Government officials have referred to the situation in Afghanistan as a “stalemate” all of these years later. Who wants to spend trillions of dollars on a tie?

“The U.S. plan is essentially to defeat all ‘radical Islamist’ groups militarily,” reads the report. “But the more people the U.S. kills, the more seem to join the organizations the U.S. was already fighting, even as new radical groups spring up.”

Not only are we not winning the war on terror, but we’re also not seeing a lot of evidence that we can defeat terrorism via warfare. It might be time to shift our strategy on this matter rather than stubbornly doubling down and sending out more soldiers.

Instead of paying taxes for those wars, people could have used that money to buy a new car, pay rent for a couple of years, attend community college or even retire sooner. I bet even Americans who support the ongoing military interventions would shudder upon discovering what they’ve personally contributed to the efforts.

While there are many reasons to question American wars outside of the monetary cost, if it takes seeing how much money Americans have contributed to these wars, all the more reason to flash that $23,386 figure everywhere.

Photo credit: Thinkstock

50 comments

Brian F
Brian F1 months ago

America gives Israel 8 million dollars a day so it can oppress the Palestinians and illegally occupy 42% of the West Bank, and illegally blockade Gaza. America is an imperialist nation that bullies the world.

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Bill Eagle
Bill E1 months ago

Wasted money, money down a rat hole while all the while our nations infrastructure suffers.

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S M
S M1 months ago

Yes, America always poking its nose into other countries and continents. Always seeing what they can take from another. Always leaving destruction behind them.

Go home Yanks!
Stay home and reflect on how your elites policies. Impoverish the world, impoverish your own population because money spent on war and corporations wishes and not your population and civic needs.

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Ruth S
Ruth S1 months ago

Did you ever think of how BAD our lives would be if we didn't have the military to protect us and fight to keep our freedom???

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David C
David C1 months ago

way too much

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Lisa M
Lisa M1 months ago

Noted.

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Lisa M
Lisa M1 months ago

Noted.

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Carole R
Carole R1 months ago

Awful.

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Winn A
Winn A1 months ago

Tooooo much.

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Winn A
Winn A1 months ago

How much, seriously?

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