06/21/2010 05:12 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

War Is Making California Poor

There's a crisis on our hands in California. The cost of the war in Afghanistan is making basic goals, such as stable housing, decent work and education, nearly impossible to maintain.

War is making us poor. On our Rethink Afghanistan Facebook page you can learn more ways to take action on this issue.

The L.A. area, the Inland Empire and the Sacramento region all made the Forbes top ten list of cities in free fall. And yet California spends tens of billions on a war in Afghanistan that isn't making us any safer. The economy and promise of California is collapsing, and yet we send our money to pay corrupt contractors and to fight a war with no definition of success and no exit strategy.

The state once known for being where dreams could come true has turned into an economic disaster. The dreams people struggle to achieve now include such basic things as having a job, not losing their homes and trying to afford an education. But we know that it doesn't have to be this way. The California Progress Report has put together a white paper that outlines how our money is being spent at war, and what it could pay for were we to end this war and focus on California's own security and stability.

The white paper highlights some astounding numbers that put the cost of war into human terms. California has spent $37.9 billion on the war so far. For one year, California could have funded: 15.6 million people with health care; 5.7 million scholarships and 7 million Pell Grants for university students; 4.5 million Head Start placements for children; 500,000 new elementary school teachers; and 67.4 million homes with renewable electricity.

The white paper covers other numbers that ever Californian should know: the cost of 1 soldier for 1 year in Afghanistan is $1 million; while the cost of college tuition at a California State University is $9,285. The cost of a single anti-tank missile in Afghanistan is $85,000; while the cost of providing 1 year of college books and supplies is $1,608 (average fees). And the cost of 1 predator drone in Afghanistan is $4.5 million; while 1 full Pell Grant for a college student in California is $5,350.

Meanwhile, one in five Californians lives in poverty. Over three-quarters of a million families here had their homes foreclosed on in 2008 and 2009, a number that is predicted to reach 2 million by 2012. And low-income workers have seen their wages decline since 2006.

California deserves better than this. But we will not end the war and save California's economy without information being known about the cost of war and action being taken in response. Watch our video, read the white paper and then join our Facebook group to take action.