29 August 2013


By Bud Koenemund

  $569,000. By government standards, it's not much; not when compared to our national budget. It amounts to less than two/tenths of a cent for every American. Indeed, it's barely a drop in the bucket when compared solely to the defense budget.

  $569,000, or thereabouts, is the cost of one Tomahawk cruise missile – reportedly the weapon of choice for our upcoming attack against the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad. The attack is, according to many in the media, a foregone conclusion. One report speculated dozens, even a hundred, of the missiles may be used in the assault.

  I said thereabouts when referring to the price because the true cost per missile could be as high as $1.4 million. But, just for laughs, let's go ahead and believe the government is currently getting the low end price; presumably for models without a CD changer, power windows, and a rear defroster.

  Considering the sheer number of missiles, and the cost (in dollars and lives), think about how much good could be done with those dollars.

  For $569,000 (remember, the cost of just one Tomahawk), we could:

  Through UNICEF, feed 1,138,000 children for a day. Or, feed one child for 1,138,000 days.

  Pay for a school term for 284,500 Ethiopian children.

  Buy equipment for 11,854 classrooms in Afghanistan.

  Pay for a year of schooling for 16,500 girls in Afghanistan.

  Build 334 wells in countries around the world.

  Provide 2,076,850 meals for kids in India.

  Buy 38 generators to provide power to entire rural communities.

  Provide a year of schooling for 22,760 Tanzanian children.

  Run 52 street children's hospitals for a year.

  For the price of just nine Tomahawks, we could do everything on the list. And, if the true price of each missile is the higher number I quoted, we could do more than twice as much. We could even save some elephants in Kenya, and maybe a whale or two.

  Now, some will say, "Why should I care about kids in Afghanistan or Tanzania? We have our own problems right here."

  You're right. We do. I used examples from around the world because we're going to expend those missiles overseas. But, we have bridges falling down, roads crumbling; all kinds of infrastructure that could benefit from having more dollars available for repairs.

 There are still people losing their homes because the housing bubble burst. Any number of schools and hospitals right here in the US could use that money.

  That money could be used to help fund national healthcare, or help pay college tuition, or help fund the arts – there are hundreds of theater companies starving for the funding which would enable them to continue providing culture to people at little or no cost.

  Of course, there are political considerations. But, you must realize Syria is a no-win situation for the United States. We will be damned if we do, and damned if we don't. If we attack, the US will be criticized for bullying yet another Middle Eastern country. If we don't intervene, the US will be criticized for allowing men, women, and children to die.

  But, we've been doing that all along. There are people dying around the world, right now! They were dying long before Bashar al-Assad. They were dying before Saddam Hussein began filling mass graves with 15,000 of his own people. They were dying before Hosni Mubarak, Muammar Gaddafi, and many other dictators around the world.

  Whether our Tomahawk missiles remain in their launchers or not, people will continue to die, because poverty kills more people each year than any of these men could ever hope to.

  The answer is not killing foreign leaders – merely allowing the next strongman to step up – or destroying what little infrastructure these countries have. The answer is more education. It is access to food and clean water. It is access to medical care. It is exposure to cultural events which teach we're not all that much different from each other.

  The United States can help provide these things, and for surprisingly little cost when you look at it in terms relative to what we spend to kill people.

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