Thursday, February 08, 2007

If I Had A Trillion Dollars

Jeffrey Dinsmore points to an interesting essay at ABC news about the cost of the Iraq war that contextualizes the amount of money being spent on this war of discretion. Attaching a “conservative” estimate that places the total cost at $1 trillion, the essay offers some ways to understand that amount.

• At current rates, $1 trillion could fund the National Science Foundation for 170 years, or the Environmental Protection Agency for 130 years, or the Department of Homeland Security for 28 years.
• The U.S. Treasury could use $1 trillion to send a $3,000 check to every person, adult and child, in the country—or a $150 check to every person on the planet.
• If you could spend $1000 per second, it would take you almost 30 years to blow through $1 trillion.
• 1 trillion seconds is more than 31,688 years.

I don’t often get political or into details of my personal relationships on the blog, but recently I have been fuming about the cost of the Iraq war. The reason: anxiety about health care and child care. Keep reading if you are curious about the worries that keep Comstock awake at night.

My wife and I are expecting a baby at the end of June. We’re both educated and hard working people, yet we are very concerned about how we will pay for our child’s day care. The wife will take some time off, and I’d like to as well. But then we need to get back to work. We couldn’t really live in New York City on one income.

So, put the kid in day care, right? The only problem is that day care will cost almost as much as I make. Why should I spend 10-12 hours each day away from my new baby when I’ll only bring home around $500 a month after day-care costs? It makes more sense for me to do some freelance work from home, where I can also supply child care. (In our modern world, wifey is the primary bread winner.)

That may be an option we select, but it, too, has drawbacks apart from concerns about less income for the family. For example, what if the wife wants to find a new job, one with decent coworkers and a salary in line with her education and abilities? If I was freelancing, we would lose our health insurance until the company plan at the new job kicked in. As an adult in charge of myself, I am willing to risk a few months of no insurance, but I will not put my baby in that situation.

I would love to erase the Iraq war and put some of the money that we can obviously scrape together to use in national health care and childcare systems. I think it is shameful that, as a nation, we run from “socialized” health care or childcare, and yet we have no problem with socialized murder. Actually, the whole situation doesn’t make me fume, as I wrote above, as much as it makes me feel sad and powerless.

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