I am the Afghanistan Blogging Fellow for The Seminal and Brave New Foundation. You can read my work on The Seminal or at Rethink Afghanistan. The views expressed below are my own.

It’s Tax Day, and here at Rethink Afghanistan we thought it best not to follow the crowd and bum you out with all the nightmarish stuff you’re paying for over in Afghanistan. Instead, we think today should be an occasion for positivity and constructiveness, and that’s why we’ve launched "War Is Not Free"

This is another Tax Day in the middle of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, and our country is still in trouble. Many are still out of work. Times are tough. People are hurting.

We don’t have hundreds of billions of dollars to waste, but we are wasting them anyway–on the Afghanistan war.

How has the Afghanistan war affected you? What would you want to fix if we could spend those funds here at home, instead of wasting them on a war that’s not making us safer?

Tell us your story. Send us a picture or write your story below. We’ll pick one community and feature it in a future video to show the world how much better off we’d be if we ended this costly, brutal war.

Remember the "Peace Dividend?" That was the idea that at the end of the Cold War, we could take all that extra money we were spending on weapons to fight the Soviets and instead spend it here at home. We want to look at the same idea again in the context of Afghanistan. As President Obama’s escalation is slowly dismantled by a congress facing intense public pressure, there will very soon come a real opportunity to re-allocate war funds toward desperately needed projects here at home. In other words, an all new Peace Dividend from Afghanistan.

As always though, we have to be very realistic about what we expect. As it says above, we don’t actually have hundreds of billions of dollars to throw around on whatever we want. Certainly nothing in the head-explodingly astronomical price range of the war in Afghanistan. But that’s actually good news for us, because the projects we’re talking about aren’t actually that expensive.

For instance, in the video above Rep. Lee explains that with the hundreds of millions of tax dollars her constituents have spent on Afghanistan, they could have instead paid for 5,411 elementary school teachers. But there are only something like 63 elementary schools in Oakland. Do they really need 85 new teachers at every single school? Of course not, they probably don’t even have that many extra classrooms. But I’m sure even a handful of new teachers at each school would help them, so they don’t even need to spend the money for over 5,000 new elementary teachers. That’s the price range we’re talking with this peace dividend. A tiny, insignificant fraction of the war cost can pay for a massive amount of progress here at home.

But I hear you, it’s Tax Day, right? Instead of talking about democratic politicians spending your tax dollars on public education, which is not an easy pill to swallow for some, let’s look at some of the responses War Is Not Free has received from ordinary citizens. We don’t have to listen to activists or a politician’s agenda, instead we have very simple solutions on how to spend the tax money from regular Americans.

From Wayne Renardson: This morning, April 15th, I picked up my local newspaper (how quaint) and read where Nashville has more than fifty-thousand illiterates. Gee whiz. Would my adopted city be better off with more classes to help teach those people to read so they could enjoy life a bit more? No. We need to spend it on more senseless wars that have consumed way too much of my time. Good god…when are Americans going to wake up? Please forgive my rhetoric.

Think about that. We’re paying to train hundreds of thousands of illiterate Afghan soldiers to shoot and kill, not even to read, and that costs billions and billions. What would it take to teach 50,000 people in Nashville just how to read? Not billions, I can tell you that much. And Mr. Renardson wants them to "enjoy life a bit more," but just think about what that could for the local work force. 50,000 new, qualified workers, perfect to attract employers. And if they’re employed, you make far more tax money back than you spent on some small literacy program. Nashville would reap big, tangible benefits for just a tiny fraction of the war cost.

Here’s another suggestion, this time from Oregon:

From Callum McLaren: In May of 2007 Josephine County, Oregon, closed its libraries due to LACK of funding. 19 months later we re-opened our doors as a Community based and Funded NGO. Today we rely on Grants, Donations, and Bequests while operating limited hours, (25 per week at the Main Branch), and hundreds of Volunteer hours by dedicated members of our local communities. Libraries provide so much more than "just books" pax Callum McLaren

They’re volunteering and relying on donations? The library? Great, it’s a whole building full of free speech, the cornerstone of our democracy, and they’re surviving off a collection jar and favors from their buddies. Again, I’m no accountant, but I’m guessing it does not take hundreds of millions of dollars to run a library in Josephine County, Oregon. But they’re already paying that much for the war in Afghanistan. They don’t need the hundreds of billions it takes to buy smart bombs and predator drones, they just need a small piece of the peace dividend to solve a major problem in their community.

Or let’s try a really easy one:

From William Mcbrune: I work at a Community Center and food pantry in the greater New Orleans area and there is still so much work that needs to get done here. Our Executive Director and Development Director have been here for 4 years and still go unpaid – our food supply is getting smaller and smaller since our area food bank just got its budget cut by the Louisiana state government. We need money and we need help. More info about the Community Center of St Bernard here, www.ccstb.org

Yes, hunger. It’s 2010 in the United States, and we’ve had to cut the budget for solving hunger. Why? Because every dollar we squeezed out of Mr. Mcbrune had to go to blowing people up in Afghanistan and Pakistan. And I don’t know about you, but I think I would trust my tax dollars going to a guy who spends four years feeding the hungry for free, just a little bit more than I do, say, Blackwater. And these guys don’t need billions, just a tiny sliver of the Afghanistan money could fund them indefinitely.

How has the Afghanistan war affected you? What would you want to fix if we could spend those funds here at home, instead of wasting them on a war that’s not making us safer?

Tell us your story. Send us a picture or write your story below. We’ll pick one community and feature it in a future video to show the world how much better off we’d be if we ended this costly, brutal war.

So what do you want the peace dividend spent on? Head over to War Is Not Free and tell us your story. These stories help us communicate to the politicians exactly what their citizens are asking for. Rather than spending billions of your tax dollars on the war, tell them how they could take just a little of that and have a big impact in your community. Afterward, join us on Rethink Afghanistan’s Facebook page and collaborate with the tens of thousands of others around the country working to bring this war to an end.