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On Tax Day, A Reminder That War Is Not Free

Dan Froomkin

How many tax dollars from your community have gone to fund the wars
in Afghanistan and Iraq? And how else could that money have been spent?

The National Priorities Project helps you figure that out quite easily, with its Cost of War web site. It shows you the total amount nationwide, then lets you dig down to see the results by community. You can also calculate the tradeoffs.

And Brave New Foundation today is out with a new online short,
starring Democratic Reps. Alan Grayson (Fla.), Raul Grijalva (Ariz.),
and Barbara Lee (Calif.), reminding tax payers to consider how the war
in Afghanistan is affecting the economy and job recovery in the United
States today.


"The resident of Tucson," Grijalva says, "have paid $298 million of
their tax dollars to the war in Afghanistan. That translates to 6,000
new jobs in the health care industry."

Over on Facebook,
Brave New Foundation is also asking you to tell them what would you
want to fix if we could spend those funds here at home instead.

Writing for, Jo Comerford,
executive director of the National Priorities Project, found one mayor
who wants everyone to know what he could have done with his city's 'war

Matt Ryan, the mayor of Binghamton, New York, is sick and
tired of watching people in local communities "squabble over crumbs,"
as he puts it, while so much local money pours into the Pentagon's
coffers and into America's wars. He's so sick and tired of it, in fact,
that, urged on by local residents, he's decided to do something about
it. He's planning to be the first mayor in the United States to
decorate the facade of City Hall with a large, digital "cost of war"
counter, funded entirely by private contributions.

That counter will offer a constantly changing estimate of the total
price Binghamton's taxpayers have been paying for our wars in Iraq and
Afghanistan since October 2001. By September 30, 2010, the city's "war
tax" will reach $138.6 million--or even more if, as expected, Congress
passes an Obama administration request for supplemental funds to cover
the president's "surge" in Afghanistan. Mayor Ryan wants, he says, to
put the counter "where everyone can see it, so that my constituents are
urged to have a much-needed conversation."

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

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