A new study says the Iraq War has cost the United States $2 trillion. By the time all the veterans’ bills are paid, it will likely cost us up to $6 trillion.

Let that sink in for a moment. Per National Priorities, here’s an estimate of how much money is allocated for various programs in President Obama’s 2015 federal fiscal year budget:

Education: ~ $70 billion
Health: ~ $58 billion
Unemployment and labor: ~ $58 billion
Energy and Environment: ~ $35 billion
International Affairs: ~ $35 billion
Science: ~ $35 billion
Transportation: ~ $23 billion
Food and Agriculture: ~$11 billion

Think about what we could have done with $6 trillion. With a “t”. As in, one thousand billions.

Almost eight years ago David Leonhardt wrote about what $1.2 trillion could have bought, which was the estimated cost of the Iraq War at the time:

For starters, $1.2 trillion would pay for an unprecedented public health campaign — a doubling of cancer research funding, treatment for every American whose diabetes or heart disease is now going unmanaged and a global immunization campaign to save millions of children’s lives.

Combined, the cost of running those programs for a decade wouldn’t use up even half our money pot. So we could then turn to poverty and education, starting with universal preschool for every 3- and 4-year-old child across the country. The city of New Orleans could also receive a huge increase in reconstruction funds.

Next time a politician or pundit tells you that we don’t have the money to pay for cancer research or climate change abatement or housing for the homeless or extended unemployment benefits, always remember that most of these Very Serious People gladly cheered on and still refuse to apologize for a $6 trillion pointless blunder.

And that doesn’t even get into the lives stupidly thrown into the fire on both sides, when that money could have been used saving lives instead. What an immoral waste.

David Atkins

Follow David on Twitter @DavidOAtkins. David Atkins is a writer, activist and research professional living in Santa Barbara. He is a contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal and president of The Pollux Group, a qualitative research firm.