Each American soldier that President Barack Obama sends to Afghanistan has a price tag on his or her head. Why? It takes $1 million dollars to maintain that soldier for a single year in a war zone.
However, the high cost of war has a low-cost counterpart back home that would solve many of the country's economic problems. The formula for this economic fix is simple and relies on redirecting dollars spent on war efforts to education and retraining to rebuild the economy.
Take the State of California, for example. For each $1 million dollar soldier returning from Afghanistan to their home in California the government could offer them the chance for a free education in the University of California school system. The soldier's position in the war zone would then be left unfilled. The result? A million dollar savings benefit that can be redirected toward a free education and retraining of that soldier along with 99 other college bound students.
With California's new in-state tuition soon to rise to $10,000 a year per student, that former soldier would be able to go to college for free along with 99 fellow students. This "Share the Wealth" educational plan means that 100 students, including the soldier, would get to go to college for free.
Now multiply this times 30,000 soldiers, mix in a list of states where the cost of tuition is much lower than California, and the number of college bound students who could be offered a free education would rise dramatically. The ripple effect would be felt immediately across the economy.
Today, K-12 education is free. In the future, it could be extended to include kindergarten through college. When this happens, will we be able to tap into the intellectual power of a highly educated populace to think our way out of "endless war?" I hope so.
If you agree, or have a better idea for how you would spend the million dollars per soldier, add your comments below.
In OM Money Money, I describe the sacred basis of the U.S. dollar and how the transformed individual can change society. Change happens from the inside out. As we change, the world around us changes.