193,000 jobs. That's what we could have created, at minimum, for the money that war contractors wasted in Afghanistan and Iraq.
The Associated Press reported on Wednesday that "as $60 billion in U.S. funds has been lost to waste and fraud in Iraq and Afghanistan over the past decade through lax oversight of contractors, poor planning and payoffs to warlords and insurgents, an independent panel investigating U.S. wartime spending estimates."
Sixty billion dollars is a massive amount of money to blow on two wars that don't make us safer, to say nothing of the basic scandal that the taxpayers did not get what they paid for. When you consider what that amount of money would have done had it been spent here at home, the scandal becomes a massive disgrace.
A 2009 study by the Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts (Amherst) shows that military spending ("wasted" spending or not) is a poor creator of jobs. If you take $1 billion from the military budget and just give it back to taxpayers, you'd create about 28 percent more jobs. If you took that same $1 billion and spent it on education, you'd create 150 percent more jobs. Put another way, at minimum, for every billion dollars you move out of the domestic economy and spend on military purposes, you essentially destroy at least 3,222 jobs.
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Now, multiply 3,222 just by the number of billions the AP reports were wasted on the ridiculous wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. That's more than 193,000. That's the bare minimum number of jobs this small slice of our nation's war spending cost us.
To put that in perspective, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the U.S. economy added zero jobs in August 2011 and only added 85,000 jobs in July 2011.
Now consider that the U.S. spends 59 percent of its discretionary budget on "defense," or $726 billion. If the deficit commission wants to cut the budget in a way that creates jobs, they should start at the Pentagon.