How Many Iraqi Deaths Are My Tax Dollars Responsible For?
So I had a funny question to myself the other day. (Funny as in odd, not so much in the hahaha sense… it’s also actually really sad in that sense). How many Iraqi’s (civilian and “insurgent”) have been killed by my tax dollars specifically? So I did some math. (All of these are gathered via Google, please bare with if the figures are rough. Also sorry to the people of Afghanistan but I found fewer details on that conflict so I’m just focusing on Iraq)
Warning: This is has a lot of math and is kinda boring in a “banality of evil” sort of way.
This data is for the 12 years between 2003 and 2014.
During this time 219,000 Iraqi’s were killed by our actions (average between estimates). Of those 161,000 were civilian which leaves 58,000 combatant deaths. Now I would like to say that it was extremely difficult to find stats on how many of those combatants were allied and how many enemies, almost all sites lump all Iraqi deaths together as the same. Only one report from the new Iraqi government counts their own dead separately and only human rights watch dog groups count the civilian casualties (which really makes one stop and think about how fucked up the world is*). However what statistics I could find were only for the years 2003–2010 but they suggested that our allies made up roughly 1/3 of the combatant deaths. Now for those counting at home that is 18,250 total Iraqi deaths per a year, 13,417 civilian Iraqi deaths per a year, and 3,222 enemy combatant Iraqi deaths per a year; on average.
It is estimated that the US spent $2 trillion on the war in Iraq during this time frame**, or $167 billion per a year. Now defense*** makes up about 24% of federal spending so we only need find out how much each of us gave in federal taxes and multiply that by 24%. But not all military spending necessarily went to Iraq, defense spending each year was about $0.6 trillion of which only $167 billion went to the Iraq war; so we must also remember that we are only concerned with about 28% of defense spending. ($167b/$0.6t = 28%)
Before moving on to our part in this lets calculate some handy numbers for later. $167b per year / 18,250 deaths per year = $9.2 million per death. Or if we assume that we are only trying to kill the enemy that would be $167b per year / 3,222 deaths per year = $52 million per an enemy soldiers death.
If you are an average American income of $50,000 a year (which may be a big “if” since this time includes the recession)and you filed your taxes as unmarried then you paid 25% federal tax or $12,500 a year in taxes, $3,000 of which went to defense, and $840 on Iraq specifically. $50,000*25%*24%*28% = $840. Those who are in a different tax bracket or married and really want to know can use this site to find what your federal tax percentage is, then just plug your income and that percentage into the equation above and let google tell you how guilty you should feel. (Though honestly compared to the millions it costs to kill one person the slight change in individuals taxes probably wont make much of a difference in the end. You would have to make hundreds of millions a year before the equations equal out into something that doesn’t just feel like a bunch of abstract zeros.)
Now that we know how much the average American has paid into Iraqi deaths per a year ($840 or you’re own number if you are following along at home with your own math). Let us calculate this in lives ($840 / $9.2 million) and enemy soldiers lives ($840 / $52 million).
In total the average single American tax payers money killed 0.00009 of a person in Iraq each year, 0.001 of a person during the whole 12 year period. Unfortunately of the targets our government is actually aiming for we each only kill 0.000016 per year or 0.00019 for the whole period.
Or if you reverse those equations ($9.2 million / $840) and enemy soldiers lives ($52 million / $840) then you find that it takes 10952.38 tax payers to kill one Iraqi citizen, or 61904.76 american tax payers to kill a single enemy combatant in Iraq.
So the good news is our government is an extremely inefficient killing machine, the bad news is that our government is extremely inefficient… and a killing machine which are both bad things but somehow not quite so bad when put together. Such is life.
PS — Let me know if you find a fault in my numbers and I’ll update this.
PPS — Obviously American bombs, tanks, and bullets didn’t cause every civilian death but well we are the invaders who started the war, if we want to feel guilty we may as well feel guilty for the whole shebang happening and not quibble about the details. Especially since our enemy was was armed with so many of our guns, and tanks, and bombs. Which also should make people step back and reconsider our foreign policies.
*There are many who accuse our government of being more interested in killing brown poor people then in fighting terrorism and protecting Democracy, and the fact that our own stats just talk about how many brown poor people we’ve killed instead of enemies doesn’t help with this image.
**A much larger part of the cost of Iraq will be taking care of the troops once they return home, a cost it looks like we may avoid by simply reneging on our responsibility and not doing so. This cost is not counted here however as it falls outside of the time frame and may never be paid, such is life.
***Which is a weird name for the department that is dedicated almost purely to projecting power abroad in an offensive manner, but maybe the best defense is a good offense.