Yup, you read it right. It was announced this week that the war in Iraq has cost the U.S. taxpayers $1.2 Trillion a year.
According to the Pentagon before the war began, the estimated cost for the war was in the neighborhood of $50 billion.
David Leonhardt writes in the International Herald Tribune that Democratic staff members in Congress largely agreed with the estimate. Lawrence Lindsey, a White House economic adviser, was a bit more realistic, predicting that the cost could go as high as $200 billion, but President George W. Bush fired him in part for saying so.
To put it into perspective, it would be like getting a $500 estimate for car repairs and then getting a bill for $120,000.
But what is $1.2 Trillion? Let's write it out: $1,200,000,000,000 or 10 to the 12th power. That's 12 zeroes to the left of the decimal point. A trillion is a million million dollars.
One trillion dollars would stretch nearly from the earth to the sun. It would take a military jet flying at the speed of sound, reeling out a roll of dollar bills behind it, 14 years before it reeled out one trillion dollar bills.
Click here to see another visual image.
Here's another thought, let's count to a billion. But first, let's see how long that will take. I can count pretty fast for a while. I mumble a little, like "sev-sen" for "seventy-seven." After a while (in the 100,000's), it takes me a lot longer than a second for each number. If it takes me a second for each number (which is a little unrealistic), then it would take me about 24 hours to count to 86,400. I can count to a million in less than half a month. It will take me more than 30 years to count to a billion (not a trillion mind you).
At a minimum wage of $5.75, $1.2 trillion would pay the salaries of 100,334,448 Americans for a year.
The National Cancer Institutes budget is $6 billion a year. $1.2 trillion would pay that budget for the next 200 years.
On today's market a barrel of oil (42 U.S. gallons) costs $52. Not bad but think of all the oil you could purchase with $1.2 trillion - more than 23,076,923,076.
It's estimated that the U.S. consumes roughly 20 million barrels a day. So with that knowledge, $1.2 trillion would purchase enough oil for the U.S. to survive on for 1,153 days or 3 years at the current rate of consumption.
According to David Leonhardt, universal preschool would probably cost $50 billion a year. So would a treatment program for heart disease and diabetes.
So that estimated $20 million for 20,000 additional troops in Iraq doesn't sound that bad now does it? How much is your protection worth?