Money wasted on war

  I recently read Jon Christensen’s piece about the loss of ranch land in the West to development (HCN, 3/29/04: Who will take over the ranch?). Obviously, the public, primarily through its federal government, which has the most money to spend, has an interest in preserving these lands. This piece made me think about the Iraq war and some simple math.

The article indicated that about 100 million acres of Western ranch land is left in private hands. It further stated that there was a shortage of money to put these lands in the hands that will keep them development free. The Iraq war has now cost us about $100 billion. At about $1,000 per acre (a conservative estimate, given that prime farmland sells for that much), enough money has been blown in Iraq to buy all 100 million acres. Obviously, some of this land will need to remain cattle-producing, and I am not arguing for such a prohibition. But, the point here is to give some perspective on how much money has been wasted in a truly unnecessary war. I won’t even begin to address the loss of American and Iraqi lives.

Jack Polance
Portland, Oregon

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