How to help the economy without spending any more money

Sam Smith

The way America wastes the most money in the least time is by fighting stupid wars like Iraq and Afghanistan.

To be sure, wars do boost the economy but far less than if the same funds were used domestically – on public works and other projects that would have a continuing multiplier effect and serve as a capital investment.

For example, compare a Humvee that gets blown up six months after it arrives in a war zone with a ten year old bus that has helped keep the economy going in an American city. Economically, you’d want to go with the bus every time.

And when you look at the actual figures it is even more dramatic. The average Humvee costs around $150,000 – $180,000 while the typical diesel bus runs about $100,000 more.

Now which will help your town’s economy more: three new buses on your streets or five Humvees in Afghanistan?

What is really scary is that the military almost came up with a Humvee successor that was going to be more expensive than a bus. The “Joint Light Tactical Vehicle” was listed by the Army Chief of Staff as one of his top three priorities. Fortunately, after Congress cast a wary eye on the project, the Pentagon somehow lowered the cost from $270,000 down to $100,000. Even cutting corners in the military involves big figures.

And if these figures aren’t impressive enough, consider that Rep. Chellee Pingree (D-ME) says that the preliminary estimate for repairing the nuclear submarine caught in the recent fire is $400 million – enough to pay off $100,000 in mortgages for some 4,000 soon to be foreclosed American homes.

Remember this the next time members of either major party start talking about cutting your Social Security to get the economy going again.

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