NOTE: This short essay was written in 2005. As time passes the actual amounts of money spent on these things and similar ones will certainly not be less. They will increase, and with that increase the more tragic will be the waste.
$5.8 Trillion spent on the U.S. Nuclear Program From 1940 through 1996, the United States spent, in 1996 dollars, nearly $5.5 trillion on nuclear weapons and weapons-related programs. If future-year costs for dismantling, cleaning up, and storing nuclear materials are added in, the figure reaches $5.8 trillion. A stack of $5.8 trillion in dollar bills would reach from the Earth to the Moon and nearly back again. The majority of funds were spent not on the weapons but on the myriad delivery vehicles (strategic bombers, ballistic missiles, artillery shells, depth charges, nuclear land mines, a targeting and controlling arsenal). In July 2006, articles appear that argue that tax money should be spent to create a new generation of atomic weapons rather than let the aging system die. Atomic Scientist Stephen I. Schwarrz presents an analysis in 2008. Ultimate U.S. Projected costs of Afghan and Iraq wars - Between $1 trillion and $1.4 trillion The January 2005 Congressional Budget Office semiannual report projected the 10-year costs of the Iraq and Afghan wars would be $1.4 trillion at current levels of operation and $1 trillion if the wars were gradually phased down. (1)
U.S. costs of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq as of 2005 - $300 billion In May of 2005, the U.S. Congress approved $81 billion to fund the military efforts in these two countries, its fifth such emergency appropriation since 9/11. The estimated total amount allocated for combat and reconstruction in these two countries up to that date was $300 billion. (2)
U.S. costs (in 2005 dollars) for WW I and the Vietnam War - $613 billion and $623 billion, respectively. (1)
An entertaining video comparison of Pentagon Budget with other U.S. Budget items: http://www.truemajority.org/fun/ Click on Oreo video (no endorsement of True Majority.org is implied)
Beebees and the U.S. Nuclear Arsenal - A video depicting the number of Missiles in the U.S. Nuclear Arsenal in 2012 and the cost of maintaining them: http://www.truemajority.org/fun/ (no endorsement of True Majority.org is implied)
F/A-22 Raptor - $64 billion Lawrence Korb, a senior advisor to the Center for Defense Information wrote in 2005 that the F/A-22 Raptor is "the most unnecessary weapon system being built by the Pentagon". (3) It was originally designed to achieve air superiority over Soviet fighter jets that now will never be built. In 2005 the Pentagon estimated it could buy 179 of these unnecessary planes for about $64 billion dollars. That's about $100 million per plane. Yet as Korb pointed out, "... the Air Force already has the capability to achieve air superiority against all enemies. The Taliban, Al Qaeda and Iraqi insurgents do not have jet fighters for the Raptor to conquer."
Central Intelligence Agency Budget (2005) - $ 44 billion
Homeland Security, U.S. (2003) - $ 38 billion
Anthrax Vaccine - $5.6 billion In October of 2004, America faced the possibility of not having enough flu vaccine available during the upcoming flu season. The LA Times reported (Oct. 19) that although the government was spending $283 million a year on flu research, it had spent $5.6 billion on finding a vaccine for anthrax, a purely theoretical military threat. One U.S. Nuclear Submarine - $ 1.6 billion. The U.S., in 2004, has fifty of these submarines. (6)
Two new 4,000-bed prisons in Iraq (requested by U.S. administration) - $400 million.
One U.S. M1 Tank - $4.3 million - the U.S. has a 2004 inventory of 403. (8)
Perchlorate cleanup in San Bernardino, California - $6.5 million In 2004, Rep. Joe Baca (D-San Bernardino, CA) secured $6.5 million dollars for cleaning the Inland Empire of perchlorate, a rocket-fuel contaminant left from former military bases and defense contractor operations. (8) If this money weren't needed for military cleanup, that $6.5 million could have been spent on other positive, constructive causes in the region.
Los Angeles Times. 2005. "$80-Billion request for wars expected." January
Time Magazine, 2005. May
Korb, Lawrence. 2005. "The best weapons money can buy." Los Angeles Times, 13 August
Dobbs, Lou. 2005. CNN - Lou Dobbs Tonight. Quoting a high level CIA source. 8 November
Time Magazine. 2003. "Best Defense." March
CBS - Sixty Minutes. 2004. 24 October
Federation of American Scientists Website. 2005
Los Angeles Times. 2004. "Congress Oks Military Funding." July