Engraved on the Korean War Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C. are the words. “Freedom is not free.” The sentiment? In order to live in a free society, a heavy cost has to be paid. This cost? It’s more than dollars paid, more than hours worked and time spent away from home. It’s the human cost of soldier’s lives, killed or forever changed so citizens of the Unites States can enjoy freedoms that very few others have.
Freedom, on the scale that is enjoyed in the U.S., is often the envy of the world. Freedom of the press allows newspapers to publish honest stories, even if they paint politicians in a negative light or expose flaws in the system. Freedom of religion means people can choose to worship in any way they see fit, or not worship at all, without the state forcing them to choose or deny religious beliefs. Freedom of speech allows people to express their thoughts, even if these are not acceptable to others, without government interference, while freedom to vote gives true choices for local, state and federal government officials into the hand of all. These are just some of the freedoms that cost so very much.
Tax Dollars Fund These Freedoms
Few citizens enjoy paying taxes, and fewer still are willing to pay more than is necessary. Yet tax dollars serve an important purpose. These dollars help fund the freedoms enjoyed by all Americans. But do you know how your tax dollar is spent? According to White House figures, each tax dollar provides: 24.64 cents to the military, 22.45 cents to health care and 17.26 cents to job and family security. These are the top three most expensive items, while NASA receives one of the lowest allocations at .6 cents of every dollar.
The Cost Of War, In Lives And Dollars
War was and is expensive, although thanks to modern medicine and new technology, the cost in lives lost continues to fall. The largest loss of life remains the price paid during the US Civil War, with over 625,000 soldiers dead. Lack of basic antibiotics and poor sanitary conditions contributed to hundreds of thousands of deaths that, had they happened today, would never have been fatal. In addition to the human toll, the Civil War would cost an estimated $79,742 billion dollars in today’s numbers.
The most expensive war by dollar amount (and certainly the largest in scope) is the Second World War, with an estimated to cost 4.04 trillion dollars (adjusted for inflation). The Second World War has the second largest human cost in term of US soldiers, with over 405,000 U.S. soldiers killed or dead from related injuries.
The cost to celebrate the freedoms Americans enjoy pale by comparison. Every July 4th, people everywhere use fireworks to light up the night sky and reflect on the cost of the freedoms we enjoy. The largest public fireworks display in America, held by Macy’s in New York City, only costs an estimated $6 million. Not a bad price considering that over 8 million people are expected to watch the show. And for those who live in states allowing personal fireworks, often $20 is enough for a few firecrackers and sparklers for the family.