How would you spend $456 billion?

Unbelievable as it seems, the total cost of the Iraq war may reach $456 billion in September, according to the National Priorities Project, an organization that tracks public spending.

That amount got editors at The Boston Globe wondering: What would $456 billion buy?

With just one-sixth of the US money targeted for the Iraq war, they calculate you could convert all cars in America to run on ethanol. ( estimates that converting the 136,568,083 registered cars in the United States to ethanol (conversion kits at $500) would cost $68.2 billion.)

According to World Bank estimates, $54 billion a year would eliminate starvation and malnutrition globally by 2015, while $30 billion would provide a year of primary education for every child on earth.

At the upper range of those estimates, says, the $456 billion cost of the war could have fed and educated the world’s poor for five and a half years.

I haven’t done the calculation, but I bet for $456 billion, we could have insulated just about every building in America to reduce our dependence on the foreign oil we’re fighting for in the Middle East.

We could have improved mass transit in some of the most densely populated cities, another way to reduce our need for fossil fuels and make a dent in global warming, too.

We even could have revitalized the “Civilian Conservation Corps,” putting young people to work on urban, suburban and rural projects that would restore and beautify neighborhoods, parks, and scenic wild lands while providing jobs and rebuilding our economy.

What are your ideas for a better way to use the “federal purse” than spend $456 billion on war? Share them here.

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