By MARC McDONALD
The Bush White House has requested $439.3 billion for military spending in 2007. That eye-popping amount doesn't include war costs that will amount to $125 billion this year and at least $50 billion next year.
$439.3 billion is a lot of money. Here's what that amount could buy if our nation spent it for peaceful purposes, instead of for death and destruction (and to pad the pockets of Halliburton in closed, no-bid contracts):
1. $5 billion. Could build a new $60 million hospital in each of the 16 biggest cities in the U.S., a $40 million hospital for each of 50 smaller cities and a $4 million clinic for 500 small towns.
2. $20 billion. Could be used for cancer research.
3. $40 billion. Could be used to plant a billion trees along highways, in cities, towns and in the countryside.
4. $40 billion. Could build 1,000 new colleges at $40 million apiece.
5. $10 billion. Could build 10,000 youth centers at $1 million each.
6. $50 billion. Could supply 25 million farm families in Third World countries with gasoline-driven tractors.
$274 billion for defense and other expenses.
Source (adjusted for inflation): The People's Almanac by David Wallechinsky and Irving Wallace.