The Iraq War was turns 20 years old on March 19.

This week in OtherWords, I write about growing up with that war and try to reckon with the cost — not only of blood and treasure, but opportunity. On a brighter note, I wonder if we’re finally getting to a point where Americans demand better things from their government after decades of investment in warmaking and little else.

March marks another 20th anniversary that’s no less significant. Two decades ago this month, the Department of Homeland Security opened its doors and brought that war on terror home to American communities. This week, Dreamer Alliyah Lusuegro writes about how it felt growing up with that agency — and the glimpses she got of a much better system.

We’ve had a long time to reckon with these colossal investments, but are we making better ones? Karen Dolan ventures an answer with her review of President Biden’s latest budget proposal. It would invest a lot in some really good things, she writes, but still far too much in the failed experiments of the last 20 years.

Finally, Nyla Samee and Khury Petersen-Smith explain how to break open America’s gun debate by focusing on gun manufacturers, not owners.

New This Week…

Biden’s Budget Would Level the Playing Field and Reduce the Deficit | Karen Dolan
The president’s plan for jobs, families, and health reflects the things most of us value. But it should spend more on those and less on the Pentagon.

20 Years On, What Did the Iraq War Truly Cost? | Peter Certo
The war claimed more than lives and treasure — it claimed a future’s worth of lost opportunities. Now, younger generations are demanding them back.

Immigration Policy Doesn’t Have To Be This Way | Alliyah Lusuegro
For 20 years, the Department of Homeland Security has made life a nightmare for millions — but Dreamers like me have seen that there’s another way.

We Need to Broaden Our Conversation About Guns | Nyla Samee and Khury Petersen-Smith
Looking at gun manufacturing rather than just gun ownership can help break down our status quo red-blue divide.

Cartoon: Freedom, Florida Style | Khalil Bendib
The freedom to say, read, teach, and do only what the governor approves.

In Case You Missed It…

The Unconscionable Push to Bring Back Child Labor | Tom Conway
Rather than offering wages attractive to adults, employers want lawmakers to push teens into some of the most dangerous jobs in the country.

Inequality Costs Social Security Trillions. Here’s How We Fix It. | Linda Benesch
There’s no need to cut Social Security. If the wealthy simply paid the same tax the rest of us do, we could even expand benefits.

In the Era of Legal Marijuana, the Kids Are Alright | Paul Armentano
Opponents thought legalization would lead to more teens using marijuana. Ten years since the first states legalized, the reverse has happened.

Let’s Get Broadband Done the Right Way | Britni Cuington
As our country finally invests in broadband, we need to make sure the job gets done right — by skilled union workers, not low-wage contractors.

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Peter Certo

Peter Certo is the communications director of the Institute for Policy Studies and editor of

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