Your tax dollars at work

By Rori Black

According to the National Priorities Project (NPP), Colorado tax payers will give $2.1 billion in 2007 to fund the Iraqi war. It’s comforting to know that we are so flush that we can afford to throw cash, as well as our young men and women, as this fiasco.

Giving money and power to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys.
P. J. O’Rourke

The problem is that while we pay for an endless war, Colorado is becoming the third-world nation of states. While we are full of hubris about our quality of life, our beautiful scenery and our youthful, fit populace, money is being wasted abroad when it is direly needed here. According to a Colorado Fiscal Policy Institute report detailing where tax money is being allocated, Colorado is:

  • 49th in covering the uninsured and low-income families under Medicaid
  • 39th in improving our state highways per capita
  • 48th in per-capital investment on higher education
  • 34th in per-capita investment in public elementary and secondary schools

What can $2.1 billion provide?

  • 42,840 Public Safety Officers our first line of defense against terrorism or
  • 760,006 Children with Health Care or
  • 257 New Elementary Schools or
  • 391,561 Scholarships for University Students or
  • 11,138 Affordable Housing Units or
  • 2,772,721 Homes with Renewable Electricity

That’s just Colorado.

The cost to American taxpayers is $456 billion so far. If that money were spent locally, the following could have been provided.

  • 5.7 million people could have been provided with health care coverage each year since the war began; AND
  • 1 million affordable housing units could have been built; AND
  • 430,000 school teachers could have been hired since the war began; AND
  • 4.7 million students could have received tuition and fees for four years at a state university.


NPP gives a breakdown of the costs to 13 major cities, including NYC, Los Angeles, and Washington DC.

Find out where you tax dollars go here, and a list of your state’s trade-offs.

10 replies »

  1. There are a lot of depressing numbers to crunch.

    Unfortunately, math, and the mysteries of state/federal fiscal issues are not in my contract.

    I’m hoping that someone from Colorado will explain TABOR and Ref C & D to me and why our numbers are still so dismal.

  2. These numbers are dire, and as if Dumbya weren’t bad enough we’ve done plenty of our own damage, too. Let’s face it, Bill Owens did everything short of officially outlawing education in this state, and we’re going to feel the economic impact for the next 50 years. Businesses that need to hire people don’t locate in areas where the talent pool is undereducated. They might buy a home in Aspen, but they won’t put the facility in Parker.

    How many new sports teams would that much money buy for Denver?

  3. Gee, Rori, if ya’ll keep on that way in Colorado, you’ll be eligible to become a Southern state.

    I am not at all sure that would be a compliment to Colorado.

  4. Now this is a good reason to question the war. All the other concerns (they don’t want us there, it doesn’t help, it’s a basket-case) are some-what self-serving hypocrisy (after-all, the US did create the instability).

    And congrats on the PJ quote. I thought I was the only fan here 😉

  5. Gah, what an awful disgrace. DC doesn’t even get a vote in Congress, and we’re losing $2 billion to this whirlpool of waste. (Just pointing out that Colorado isn’t even getting the shank as bad as some. ;))

    Even though Gavin’s point is made with his usual self-absorbed libertarian filter on full blast :), the point is still good. It’s difficult to motivate people on abstract, ethical concerns, but you hit them in the pocketbook, and EVERYONE notices. These numbers need to be made public and plastered on every blog, every newspaper, and every Web site willing to host them.

    We’re devolving into a Third World country to fund a war we should never have started. What an abomination.

    Great work, Rori. I missed your work up here. 😉