Monday, December 1, 2008

Buy enough sugar to reach from Earth to the farthest star of the Big Dipper

For the price of the Iraq War, we could've bought enough confectioners' sugar to reach from Earth to Alpha Ursae Majoris (also called Dubhe), the farthest star of the Big Dipper.

A grain of confectioners' sugar, called icing sugar in the UK, is around 24 micrometers in each direction. Sucrose has a density of 1.587 grams per cubic centimeter, so the mass of a grain of powdered sugar is 21.9 nanograms. Dubhe, the star that stands at the end of the Big Dipper's scoop, is 124 light years or 1173 trillion kilometers away. Reaching Dubhe would require 48.9 billion trillion grains of confectioners' sugar. Since 25 pounds, or 11.34 kg, of Domino 10x confectioners' sugar can be bought for $27.48, buying enough sugar to reach the farthest star of the Big Dipper would cost $2.59 trillion, or $410 billion less than Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes' estimate of $3 trillion for the total cost of the Iraq War.

Thanks you all for reading War or Car. This will be the final post at this site. From now on, my political blogging will be at Donkeylicious with Nicholas Beaudrot. Let's work together to make sure our leaders make wiser decisions in the years to come.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Make each panda the CEO of its own regional airline

For the price of the Iraq War, we could've made each of the world's pandas the CEO of its own regional airline.

Using the highest estimates, there are 3000 giant pandas in the wild, and 266 in captivity. The average regional airline is worth $465 million. Making each panda the CEO of its own regional airline would cost $1.52 trillion, or $1.48 trillion less than Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes' estimate of $3 trillion for the total cost of the Iraq War.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Give every HIV-positive person a lifetime supply of drugs

For the price of the Iraq War, we could've given everyone with HIV a lifetime supply of AIDS drugs.

There are 33.2 million HIV positive people in the world. About 1.2 million of them are in the United States and 2.2 million are in Europe and Central Asia. Merck has offered to cut the price of its protease inhibitor, Crixivan, to $600 per year for third world use, one tenth of what it costs in the United States. The current global average life expectancy is 66.2 years. Assuming full prices for the 3.4 million people in the US, Europe, and Central Asia, and discounted prices for everyone else, we could've given every HIV-positive person a lifetime supply of AIDS drugs for $2.53 trillion, which is $470 billion less than Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes' estimate of $3 trillion for the total cost of the Iraq War.

Image used under a Creative Commons license from World Bank Photo Collection

Friday, November 28, 2008

Buy a hot air balloon for every Obama voter, so they can watch his inauguration from the sky

For the price of the Iraq War, we could buy everyone who voted for Barack Obama a hot air balloon from which to watch his inauguration from the sky.

According to current estimates, Obama received 68,953,645 votes in the 2008 Presidential election. A new, commercially made hot air balloon costs $20,000 to $30,000. Buying everyone who voted for Obama a hot air balloon from the top end of that price range would cost $2.07 trillion, or $930 billion less than Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes' estimate of $3 trillion for the total cost of the Iraq War.

Image used under a Creative Commons license from a4gpa.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Buy enough pecans for a pie the size of West Virginia

For the price of the Iraq War, we could've bought enough pecans for a pecan pie the size of West Virginia.

About 5 ounces of pecans are necessary for a 9-inch pie. A 9-inch pie is about 64 square inches in area, so each ounce of pecans is worth about 12.7 square inches of pie. (There are about 4 billion square inches in a square mile.) West Virginia is 24,230 square miles, or 96.9 trillion square inches. At Surratt Farms, 30 pounds of pecans can be purchased for $157.50. Buying enough pecans for a pie the size of West Virginia would cost $2.65 trillion, which is $350 billion less than Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes' estimate of $3 trillion for the total cost of the Iraq War.

Image used under a Creative Commons license from tonythemisfit.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Buy every US soldier who died in Iraq their own nuclear submarine

For the price of the Iraq War, we could've bought every US soldier who died in Iraq their own nuclear-powered submarine, so they could explore the ocean instead of being dead.

Sturgeon class submarines were sold until 1990 and are still in use today. They are around 300 feet long, are powered by a nuclear reactor, and can dive to 1300 feet. They cost $320 million each in 1990 dollars, or $530 million each in today's money. 4204 American soldiers have died in Iraq. Each of these soldiers could've been given a submarine instead for $2.23 trillion, which is $770 billion less than Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes' estimate of $3 trillion for the total cost of the Iraq War.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Give everyone in Pennsylvania a jet pack

For the price of the Iraq War, we could've given everyone in Pennsylvania a jet pack.

There are 12.4 million people in Pennsylvania. Jet Pack International's T73 is currently being sold for $200,000 including lessons (video). Each person in Pennsylvania could've gotten a T73 Jet Pack for $2.48 trillion, which is $520 billion less than Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes' estimate of $3 trillion for the total cost of the Iraq War.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Subscribe to the LA Times since the beginning of time

For the price of the Iraq War, we could've subscribed to the LA Times since the beginning of time.

The universe is approximately 13.73 billion years old. According to the reigning theories of cosmology, time began with the beginning of the universe. In some zip codes, the LA Times is available for $2.99 per week. Subscribing to the LA Times since the beginning of time would cost $2.13 trillion, which is $870 billion less than Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes' estimate of $3 trillion for the total cost of the Iraq War.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Pay Ethiopia's health care bills for a thousand years

For the price of the Iraq War, we could pay Ethiopia's health care bills for a thousand years.

Ethiopia has a population of about 78 million. Per capita health care expenditures in Ethiopia are $21, about 1/300 of American health care expenditures. At this price, paying health care bills for Ethiopia for the next thousand years would cost $1.64 trillion, which is $1.36 trillion less than Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes' estimate of $3 trillion for the total cost of the Iraq War.

Image used under a Creative Commons license from LindsayStark.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Fund the Lizard People's Senate campaigns for the next ten thousand years

For the price of the Iraq War, we could fund the Lizard People's Senate campaigns for the next thousand years.

The Minnesota Senate race was the most expensive race of this year, with the candidates together spending $32.3 million. On one of the challenged ballots that has come to light in the recount, a voter had written in 'Lizard People' for several offices including the Senate. Assuming that half the total Minnesota expenditures are sufficient to make a candidate competitive, we would need to spend $16.15 million every six years to fund one of the Lizard People's campaigns for each seat. At that rate, we could fund the Lizard People's campaigns for each seat for ten thousand years at a cost of $2.69 trillion, which is $310 billion less than Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes' estimate of $3 trillion for the total cost of the Iraq War.

Thanks to Stentor Danielson for sending in this suggestion, and Blar for a correction.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Turn the Sahara Desert into a forest

For the price of the Iraq War, we could've turned the Sahara Desert into a forest.

The world's largest hot desert, the Sahara, is around 9 million square kilometers. In an attempt to block the expansion of the Gobi Desert, China is planting 9 million acres or 36,400 square kilometers of forest. This initiative will cost around $8 billion. At this price, the entire Sahara desert could be turned into a forest for $1.98 trillion, which is which is $1.02 trillion less than Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes' estimate of $3 trillion for the total cost of the Iraq War.

Thanks to Hope Rider for research assistance. Image used under a Creative Commons license from alex lichtenberger.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Buy enough MP3s for a 50 trillion mile road trip

For the price of the Iraq War, we could buy enough MP3s to go on a 50 trillion mile road trip without listening to the same song twice.

At 70 miles per hour, one can go 50 trillion miles in 81.5 million years. Assuming an average song length of 4 minutes, that much travel requires 10.7 trillion songs. The emusic Connoisseur plans allow one to buy 100 DRM-free songs for $25. At this price, enough music for a 50 trillion mile road trip would cost $2.68 trillion, or $320 billion less than Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes' estimate of $3 trillion for the total cost of the Iraq War.

Comic from XKCD, used with permission.