The most important things in life like life itself are priceless. But that doesn’t mean that issues involving the preservation of life (or a way of life), like defense, should not be subjected to cool, hard economic analysis.
Shortly before the current Iraq war, when Bush administration economist Larry Lindsey suggested that the costs might range between $100 and $200 billion, other officials quickly demurred. For example, Office of Management and Budget Director Mitch Daniels put the number at $60 billion. It now appears that Lindsey’s numbers were a gross underestimate.