I have read estimates of $8 trillion for the aggregate economic losses caused by the 2008 financial collapse. You will remember. Bigwigs at a bunch of very large banks conspired with bond-rating agencies and mortgage companies to extract billions of dollars from American citizens pursuing the American Dream. In the aftermath of the crisis, people lost their homes, jobs, pensions, and savings accounts. But special people, those who run the aforementioned large banks, received enough government bailout money to restore their balance sheets, lavishly line their own pockets, and resume their status as “too-big-to-fail.”
In its wisdom, the government also decided that austerity was the right elixir for the Rest of Us. Federal spending was cut dramatically and states followed suit. Essentially, America’s public infrastructure was allowed to crumble. Can’t afford to address homelessness, poverty, education, transportation, environmental protection, and so on—or so we were told.
But we may forget just how much money the U.S. “invested” in Middle East military excursions. This from Tariq Ali, writing for The London Review of Books:
Joseph Stiglitz (a Corbyn adviser on the economy) and Linda Bilmes have argued that America’s spending on wars since 2003, estimated now at nearly $8 trillion, is crippling the country. ‘A trillion dollars,’ they note,
could have built eight million additional housing units, could have hired some 15 million additional public school teachers for one year; could have paid for 120 million children to attend a year of Head Start; or insured 530 million children for healthcare for one year; or provided 43 million students with four-year scholarships at public universities. Now multiply those numbers by three.
As I said at the outset, there is money. Lots of it. Just not for you and me.