The New York Times has an article today based on the cost of the Iraq war, which to this point stands at $1.2 trillion. The article notes that people have a hard time really grasping big numbers, so it's difficult to evaluate what this actually means. But one can think of it in terms of alternative uses for the same funds.
For example, it would cost less than half as much to engage for ten years in: "an unprecedented public health campaign — a doubling of cancer research funding, treatment for every American whose diabetes or heart disease is now going unmanaged and a global immunization campaign to save millions of children’s lives."
Good point, but here's another way to make the dollar cost easy to grasp. It's a lot crasser, but perhaps all the more salient for that. Since the U.S. population is about 300 million and we are going to pay for it eventually (I call this the no-free-lunch principle), Bush's going to war is fiscally equivalent to his having charged each U.S. citizen an average of $4,000.
That's $16,000 for a four-person household such as mine, ignoring that we'll probably pay more than our per capita share due to being above the mean in affluence.
Glad to know that I have personally, in effect, paid more than $16,000 for all this.