War has costs . . . and prices. The costs include everything we give up to wage it, and everything taken away by the violence: lives, property, and (sometimes) sacred honor. The prices include the monetary expenditures that keep on adding up.
A recent Associated Press story warns us that the “Costs of Wars Linger for Over 100 Years.” The U.S. government is still paying for World War I, costing taxpayers $20 million per year. Spending on veterans of World War II peaked in 1991, while the Vietnam conflict still soaks up taxpayer dollars:
A congressional analysis estimated the cost of fighting the war was $738 billion in 2011 dollars, and the post-war benefits for veterans and families have separately cost some $270 billion since 1970. . . .
We can expect the Iraq and Afghanistan wars to take money for scores of years after the cessation of fighting — and let’s hope it does cease, some day.
How long can we continue to pay? Very:
There are 10 living recipients of benefits tied to the 1898 Spanish-American War at a total cost of about $50,000 per year. The Civil War payments are going to two children of veterans — one in North Carolina and one in Tennessee — each for $876 per year.
This may seem idiotic, but it’s inevitable.
One element of the story, not mentioned in the reportage, is something I hear from friends: The Veterans Administration more than accommodates increasing its rolls not merely of the recent wounded, but from ancient veterans who received no war wounds. It’s part of the natural expansion of bureaucracy.
The price of war just goes on and on, and up and up.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.