Sunday, August 31, 2008

Give everyone in sub-Saharan Africa condoms

For the price of the Iraq War, we could give everyone in sub-Saharan Africa enough condoms to have sex every night of their adult lives.  

Sub-Saharan Africa has 770 million residents.  The population is expected to nearly double by 2050, and 6.1% of adults are infected with HIV.  Assuming that the disease-preventing benefits of condoms would raise life expectancy in the region to the global average of 66 years, the residents would be having 13.5 trillion nights of sex.  

At ripnroll, a case of a thousand Lifestyles Large condoms costs $159.  At this price, equipping the population of sub-Saharan Africa for a lifetime of sex every night would cost $2.15 trillion, which is less than Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes' estimate of $3 trillion for the cost of the Iraq War. 

Image used under a Creative Commons License from amalthya.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Buy enough Apache helicopters to fly all Alaskan women to Canada if Roe is overturned

For the price of the Iraq War, we could buy enough Apache military helicopters to fly all Alaskan women to Canada, so they'd still have the right to an abortion even if John McCain and Sarah Palin succeeded in overturning Roe v. Wade.  

Both John McCain and Sarah Palin oppose Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that protects the right to have an abortion nationwide.  Roe would most likely be overturned if McCain or Palin chose the replacement for a pro-choice Justice like the 88-year-old John Paul Stevens.  Then Alaska would severely restrict abortion rights for its 302,820 women.  

Armed with a 30mm chain gun and Hydra and Hellfire rockets, the AH-64 Apache helicopter is the primary attack helicopter of the U.S. Army.  It costs $18 million and seats two crew members.  With two women in each helicopter, buying enough Apache helicopters to fly the female population of Alaska to pro-choice Canada would cost $2.73 trillion, which is less than Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes' estimate of $3 trillion for the cost of the Iraq War.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Buy every impoverished American child a lifetime of nice dinners

For the price of the Iraq War, we could buy every impoverished American child a lifetime of dinners at Trudy's, a Tex-Mex restaurant in Austin, Texas.  

According to recent census data, there are 13.3 million American children in poverty.  If we assume that these children will each live an average of 70 more years, they will jointly consume a total of 340 billion dinners over the rest of their lives.  

The enchilada plate at Trudy's, which I would often order with chipotle sauce over mushrooms and pinto beans, costs $7.95.  At this price, we could buy every American child a lifetime of dinners for $2.70 trillion, which is less than Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes' estimate of $3 trillion for the cost of the Iraq War.

Photo credit: Patrick Meredith, Austin-American Statesman

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Buy every US adult who wants to attack Iran their weight in marijuana

For the price of the Iraq War, we could've bought every American adult who wants to attack Iran their weight in marijuana.

According to a November 2007 Gallup poll, 18% of Americans favored military action against Iran, while 73% favored relying on economic and diplomatic efforts. There are 225 million American adults, so this means that 40 million Americans favor military action. The average American adult weighs slightly under 180 lbs, so 7.2 billion pounds of Americans support military action against Iran.

In 2005, the National Survey on Drug Use and Health estimated retail marijuana prices at $2783 per pound.  Buying all American adults who want to attack Iran their weight in marijuana would cost $2.00 trillion, which is less than Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes' estimate of $3 trillion for the cost of the Iraq War.

Image used under a Creative Commons License from dey.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Cure all malaria for 2000 years

For the price of the Iraq War, we could cure all cases of malaria for the next two thousand years. 

Each year, there are 515 million cases of malaria, causing 1 to 3 million deaths and contributing to poverty in many developing countries.  If the rate of malaria infection were to stay constant even as we treat every case for the next 2000 years, we would have to treat 1.03 trillion cases of the disease.  

Artemisinin therapies, which are used to treat the disease now that the malaria parasite is resistant to chloroquine and some mosquitos are resistant to DDT, cost $2.20 for a course of treatment. Treating 2000 years of malaria would cost $2.27 trillion, which is less than Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes' estimate of $3 trillion for the cost of the Iraq War. 

Image used under a Creative Commons License from otisarchives2.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Give every woman in Afghanistan as many servants as John McCain

For the price of the Iraq War, we could've given every woman in Afghanistan as many American servants as John McCain.

In 2007, John McCain spent $273,000 on household employees (for example, the caretaker of one of his homes in Sedona). 8.4 million women over 15 live in Afghanistan. Giving each of these women their own McCain-sized retinue of household employees would cost $2.3 trillion, which is less than Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes' estimate of $3 trillion for the cost of the Iraq War.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Give the residents of CA, NY, TX, and FL their weight in silver

For the price of the Iraq War, we could've given the residents of California, New York, Texas, and Florida their weight in silver.

California, New York, Texas, and Florida are the four most populated states in America, with a total population of 98 million people.  If the average resident of these states weighs 150 lbs (lighter than the average American adult, but much heavier than most children), the total weight of these states' population is 14.7 billion pounds.

Silver is currently valued at $13.33 per ounce.  There are 14.6 troy ounces in a pound.  So buying the residents of these four states their weight in silver would cost $2.86 trillion, which is less than Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes' estimate of $3 trillion for the cost of the Iraq War.

Image used under a Creative Commons License from RickyDavid.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Supply the British with tea for ten thousand years

For the price of the Iraq War, we could satisfy the British thirst for tea for the next ten thousand years.  

The British lead the world in per capita tea consumption, with the average Briton consuming 2.3 kilograms of tea per year, enough to make 766 cups.  Since there are nearly 60 million people in Britain, total British tea consumption runs to 140 million kg.  

The global average wholesale price of tea is $1.95 per kg (link).   So satisfying British tea demand for the next ten thousand years would cost $2.7 trillion, which is less than Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes' estimate of $3 trillion for the cost of the Iraq War.

Image used under a Creative Commons License from fisserman.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Trap Osama in Afghanistan with a giant wall of $100 bills

For the price of the Iraq War, we could've trapped Osama Bin Laden in Afghanistan by surrounding the country with a 100-foot wall made entirely of hundred-dollar bills.

Afghanistan's borders are 5529 kilometers long. Since a hundred dollar bill (like all of today's paper money) is 156 mm long, it would take 35.4 million of them to surround Afghanistan. Since a hundred dollar bill is 2.61 inches tall, it would take 460 of them to make the wall 100 feet tall. This means it would take 16.3 billion bills to create a 100-foot wall around Afghanistan. Given the face value of each bill, surrounding Afghanistan and Osama in a giant wall of Benjamins would cost $1.63 trillion, which is less than Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes' estimate of $3 trillion for the cost of the Iraq War.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Set up a century of Bush voters vs. Axis of Evil in World of Warcraft

For the price of the Iraq War, we could've let all 2004 Bush voters and everyone 15 or over in the 'Axis of Evil' play World of Warcraft together for a century.  

62,040,610 Americans voted for George W. Bush in 2004.  About 16.2 million residents of Iraq, 51.2 million residents of Iran, and 17.9 million residents of North Korea are at least 15 years old.  This adds up to 147.3 million players.  At $40 every two years for a startup or expansion disk and $15 per month, they could play for a century for $2.95 trillion, which is less than Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes' estimate of $3 trillion for the cost of the Iraq War.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Paint the light side of the moon red

For the price of the Iraq War, we could've bought enough paint to paint the light side of the moon red.  

The moon has a surface area of 14,645,750 square miles.  It is in synchronous rotation with the Earth, meaning that the same half of it faces the Earth at all times.  Since a square mile is 27,878,400 square feet (that's 5280 feet squared)  the light side of the moon is 204 trillion square feet.  

LTX Bright Red Enamel paint, by Valspar, covers 400 square feet per gallon.  So we would need 510 billion gallons of it to cover the light side of the moon.  At the current price of $5.49 per gallon, we could paint the light side of the moon for $2.80 trillion, which is less than Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes' estimate of $3 trillion for the cost of the Iraq War. 

Image adapted under a Creative Commons License from jahdakinebrah.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Buy everyone in Akron properties like John McCain's nine houses

For the price of the Iraq War, we could've bought everybody in Akron, Ohio a group of nine properties worth as much as John McCain's nine houses and condominiums.  

Akron, Ohio has 207,934 residents.  As of March 18, 2008, the McCain family owned nine dwellings -- two condos in Arizona, three beachfront condos in California, three ranches in Arizona, and a high-rise condo in Virginia.  (This does not include their rental property.  In addition, estimates of the total number of homes on their Arizona ranches run from four to six.) These nine properties were valued at a total of $13,123,269.  Buying everybody in Akron a series of properties worth this much money would cost $2.73 trillion, which is less than Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes' estimate of $3 trillion for the cost of the Iraq War.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Give every human two iPhones

For the price of the Iraq War, we could give every human being two iPhones.  

There are 6.7 billion human beings.  The iPhone costs $199.  So giving every human being two iPhones would cost $2.67 trillion, which is less than Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes' estimate of $3 trillion for the cost of the Iraq War. 

Image used under a Creative Commons License from vernhart.  See what else you could buy with the money we spent on the war! 

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Desalinize enough seawater so all Africans could drink safely until 10,000 AD

For the price of the Iraq War, we could've desalinized enough seawater to provide all Africans with safe drinking water for the next 7,992 years.

Currently, the majority of the 922 million people in Africa do not have safe drinking water. Drinking 2 L of water per day is sufficient to replenish bodily fluids. So providing Africans with their annual intake of water would require 673 billion liters.

Singaporean desalinization technologies produce 1 cubic meter of fresh water for $0.49. At this price, supplying all Africans with clean drinking water until the year 10,000 AD would cost $2.63 trillion, which is less than Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes' estimate of $3 trillion for the cost of the Iraq War.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Send all the Israelis and Palestinians to Harvard


For the price of the Iraq War, we could've sent every man, woman, and child living in Israel and Palestine to Harvard for four years.

There are 7.3 million people living in Israel, and 3.8 million people living in the Palestinian territories.  The total cost of attending Harvard for one year is $52,650.  That would put the cost of a four-year Harvard undergraduate degree for all Israelis and Palestinians at $2.3 trillion, which is less than Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes' estimate of over $3 trillion for the cost of the Iraq War.

Friday, August 15, 2008

One laptop per child, adult, sheep, pig, and cow

For the price of the Iraq War, we could've not only fully funded One Laptop Per Child, but expanded its mandate to cover all humans, sheep, pigs, and cows.

There are about six billion humans, 1 billion sheep, 1 billion pigs, and 1.3 billion cows on earth. OLPC is producing laptops at $175 each. Giving these 9.3 billion organisms their own laptops would cost 1.63 trillion, which is less than Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes' estimate of $3 trillion for the cost of the Iraq War.

Image adapted under a Creative Commons License from hthg1983.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Fuel a motorbike to go as far as Iota Piscium

For the price of the Iraq War, we could fuel a motorbike to travel as far as Iota Piscium.  

Iota Piscium is a yellowish dwarf star within the constellation Pisces.  It's 45 light-years or 265 trillion miles from the Earth.  While slightly larger than the Sun, it's small enough that it may have Earth-like planets.  

The Honda Super Cub, the top-selling motorcycle in the world, gets 340 miles per gallon.  To travel 45 light-years, the Honda Super Cub would require 779 billion gallons of gas.  In Austin, Texas, gasoline currently costs $3.48 per gallon at the Chevron station at the intersection of Manchaca and Davis Street.  If all the fuel was purchased at these prices, fuel costs to go a distance as far as Iota Piscium would be $2.7 trillion, which is less than Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes' estimate of over $3 trillion for the cost of the Iraq War.

Image adapted under a Creative Commons License from joelf.  

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Send everybody from South Ossetia into space

For the price of the Iraq War, we could've sent the entire population of South Ossetia into space.

South Ossetia is the region at the center of the conflict between Russia and Georgia. In 2000, it had 70,000 residents. Recently, many refugees have fled to North Ossetia or other places as a result of war.

Anousheh Ansari, the world's first female space tourist, paid $25 million to go to space for eight days. At that price, sending the entire population of South Ossetia into space would cost $1.75 trillion, which is less than Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes' estimate of over $3 trillion for the cost of the Iraq War.  

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Reward all Afghans and Pakistanis with 15x their income for helping us capture Osama

For the price of the Iraq War, we could've rewarded every Afghan and Pakistani with fifteen times their income if people from either nation helped us capture Osama Bin Laden.  

Pakistan has 165 million residents, and its annual per capita income is $1027.  Afghanistan has 32 million residents, and its annual per capita income is $335.  Rewarding the entire population of both countries with fifteen times their income for information leading to the capture of Osama Bin Laden would cost $2.70 trillion, which is less than Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes' estimate of over $3 trillion for the cost of the Iraq War.  

Monday, August 11, 2008

Buy enough Fruit By The Foot to reach Pluto

For the price of the Iraq War, we could've bought enough Fruit By The Foot to reach Pluto.

Pluto's orbit averages 39.48 times the distance between the Earth and the Sun. The distance between the Earth and the Sun is 93 million miles. So the distance between the Earth and Pluto's orbit when Pluto is at its average distance from the Sun, and in the same direction from the Sun as the Earth, is 3.6 billion miles.

A case of Fruit By The Foot contains a total of 72 snacks, each of which extends to 3 feet when unrolled. Spanning the distance from Earth to Pluto would require 87 billion cases of Fruit By The Foot. Since each case of Fruit By The Foot can be purchased for $30, the total cost for reaching Pluto is $2.6 trillion, which is less than Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes' estimate of $3 trillion for the cost of the Iraq War.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Lift all humans, pigs, and sheep into the air with helium

For the price of the Iraq War, we could have purchased enough crude helium to lift all humans, pigs, and sheep into the air.

There are 6.6 billion humans on the earth. If the average human weighs 150 lbs (likely to be an overestimation, as many humans are children), the total mass of all humans is 1 trillion lbs. There are about 1 billion sheep, which weigh roughly the same as humans, for a total sheep weight of 150 billion lbs. There are about 1 billion pigs, which weigh around 250 lbs as adults, for a total pig weight of at most 250 billion lbs.

If purchased directly from the Bureau of Land Management, helium costs $60 per thousand cubic feet this year. A thousand cubic feet of helium lifts 28.2 kilograms or 62 pounds, so the cost to lift one pound with helium is about $1. Lifting all humans, pigs, and sheep would then cost $1.4 trillion, which is less than Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes' estimate of over $3 trillion for the cost of the Iraq War.

Image adapted under a Creative Commons License from Sam the Sham.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Buy everybody in Orlando their own A-10 Thunderbolt

For the price of the Iraq War, we could've bought each resident of Orlando, Florida, their own military attack aircraft.

The population of Orlando is 227,907. The heavily armored A-10 Thunderbolt, used by the Air Force against tanks and other ground targets, costs $11.7 million. Equipping each resident of Orlando with their own A-10 Thunderbolt would cost $2.67 trillion, which is less than Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes' estimate of over $3 trillion for the cost of the Iraq War.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Build a bridge to the moon out of MacBooks

For the price of the Iraq War, we could've bought enough MacBooks for a bridge to the moon 2 MacBooks wide. (Then we could take them down and give eight of them to each American, and one to each Canadian.)

The moon is about 380,000,000 m from the surface of the earth. A MacBook is .325 meters long, so it would take 2.34 billion of them to reach the moon if laid end to end in two rows. At $1099 each, that would cost us $2.57 trillion, which is less than Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes' estimate of $3 trillion for the cost of the Iraq War.

Image used under a Creative Commons license from Jeronimo Palacios.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Supply the Irish with beer for a millennium

For the price of the Iraq War, we could've supplied the Irish with beer for a thousand years.

Kirin estimates Irish beer consumption at 521 million liters per year, second in the world on a per capita basis. At this rate the Irish would drink 521 billion liters of beer per millennium. A twelve-pack of 330 ml Guinness bottles costs $16, and contains 4 liters of beer. At these prices we could provide the Irish with a millennium's worth of beer for $2.084 trillion, which is less than Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes' estimate of $3 trillion for the cost of the Iraq War.

Image used under a Creative Commons license from Voss.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Run a jukebox since the time of the dinosaurs

For the price of the Iraq War, we could have run a jukebox from the time of the dinosaurs to the present.

The last dinosaurs existed 65 million years ago. There are 365 x 24 x 60 minutes=525,600 minutes in a year, which means it's been 34 trillion minutes since they existed. If the jukebox charges a dollar for three songs (as seems to be the average in Chicago), and our songs average four minutes in length, we get twelve minutes of music per dollar. At that rate, playing music from the time of the dinosaurs until the present costs $2.83 trillion, which is less than Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes' estimate of over $3 trillion for the cost of the Iraq War.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Cover New Hampshire and Vermont in gold leaf



For the price of the Iraq War, we could've covered the land area of Vermont and New Hampshire in gold leaf.

1 square meter of gold leaf can be generated by 2 grams of gold. At current prices, gold is worth $884 per troy ounce (31.1 grams). So it costs $56.85 for a square meter of gilding. New Hampshire is 24,239 square kilometers, while Vermont is 24,932 square kilometers, for a total area of 49,171 square kilometers or 49,171,000,000 square meters. Gilding the entire land area of these states comes to $2.80 trillion, which is less than Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes' estimate of over $3 trillion for the cost of the Iraq War.

See what else you could buy with the money we spent on the war!

Monday, August 4, 2008

A Toyota Prius for every American household

For the price of the Iraq War, we could've bought a brand-new Toyota Prius for every household in America.

According to the Census Bureau's projections for 2008, there are around 112 million households in America. (This includes family and non-family households.) MSRP for a fully loaded 2008 Toyota Prius is $23,770. Buying each household a fully loaded Prius would cost $2.66 trillion, which is less than Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes' estimate of over $3 trillion for the cost of the Iraq War.