Friday, October 31, 2008

Buy every woman born since the Malleus Malleficarum a cauldron and a broom

For the price of the Iraq War, we could've bought a cauldron and a broom for every woman born since the writing of the Malleus Maleficarum, or "Hammer of the Witches", a 15th century witch-hunting guide.  

Written in 1486, the Malleus Maleficarum argued that witches existed, claimed that women were more likely to commit witchcraft, and advised authorities on how to detect and convict witches. It spread rapidly throughout Europe, leading to the deaths of tens of thousands of people through witch trials.  Even today, some right-wing activists like Catholic League president Bill Donahue profess a belief in witchcraft.  

Extrapolating from calculations by the Population Reference Bureau suggests that 12 billion women have been born since 1486. A 10 quart cast iron cauldron from a witchcraft supply store costs $150, while a broom costs $5.  Buying these items for every woman born since 1486 would cost $1.86 billion, or $1.14 billion less than Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes' estimate of $3 trillion for the total cost of the Iraq War.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Give each King of Israel the total value of the Israeli stock market

For the price of the Iraq War, we could give each historical King of Israel the value of everything on the contemporary Israeli stock market.  

There are 24 historical kings of Israel: Saul, Ish-Bosheth, David, Solomon, Rehoboam, Jeroboam I, Nadab, Baasha, Elah, Zimri, Omri, Ahab, Ahaziah, Jehoram, Jehu, Jehoahaz, Jehoash, Jeroboam Il, Zechariah, Shallum, Menahem, Pekahiah, Pekah, and Hoshea.  (This does not include the kings who only ruled Judah.)  The S&P Global Indices currently value all the stocks on the Israeli stock market at a total of $96.9 billion.  Giving each of these 24 kings the full value of the Israeli stock market would cost $2.33 trillion, $670 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 wallyg.  

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Give everyone in Georgia and the Carolinas an annual vacation in Hawaii

For the price of the Iraq War, we could've given every resident of the Carolinas and Georgia a vacation in Hawaii each year of their lives.

The state of Georgia has a population of 9.54 million, while North Carolina has 9.06 million and South Carolina has 4.41 million.  Assuming a life expectancy of 75 years, giving them a vacation each year would involve 1.73 billion vacations.  A trip from Los Angeles to Kauai with five nights' stay at the four-star Hyatt Regency Waikiki Beach costs $923 per person, and the addition of airfare from Atlanta to LA costs $345.  Giving each of these people an annual five-night vacation in Hawaii would cost $2.19 trillion, $810 billion less than less than Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes' estimate of $3 trillion for the total cost of the Iraq War.

Visit saxby-chambliss.com for information on vulnerable Georgia Republican Senator Saxby Chambliss.  

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Pay both World Series teams for the next 20,000 years

For the price of the Iraq War, we could pay both World Series baseball teams for the next 20,000 years.  

The two teams in the World Series this year are the Tampa Bay Rays and the Philadelphia Phillies.  Philadelphia has a payroll of $95.5 million, while Tampa Bay has one of the lowest payrolls in the Major Leagues at $43.4 million.  Paying both teams for the next 20,000 years would cost $2.78 trillion, or $220 billion less than Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes' estimate of $3 trillion for the total cost of the Iraq War.

Thanks to reader Johanna Franklin for sending in this suggestion with calculations.   

Monday, October 27, 2008

Buy humans a fireworks display every night since they learned to make fire

For the price of the Iraq War, we could buy humans a fireworks show fit for the 4th of July every night since they learned how to make fire.  

According to new research from Hebrew University published in Quaternary Science Reviews, humans learned how to make fire 790,000 years ago, or 288 million days ago.  According to Premier Pyrotechnics, the cost of a large 4th of July fireworks show is between $7,000 and $20,000, or $500 to $1000 per minute.  Buying a $10,000 fireworks show every night since humans learned to make fire would cost $2.88 trillion, or $120 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 Stuck in Customs.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Buy each California hen a quarter-acre lot

For the price of the Iraq War, we could buy every laying hen in California her own quarter-acre lot in Fawnskin, CA.  

California's 20 million laying hens produce about five billion eggs per year.  If Proposition 2 on the California ballot passes, it will become illegal in 2015 to keep these hens in cages so small that they cannot turn around or spread their wings.  While Proposition 2 would not mandate such a large amount of space, a quarter-acre lot close to the shore of Big Bear Lake is currently available in Fawnskin, CA for $140,000.  Buying a lot like this for each California laying hen would cost $2.8 trillion, $200 billion less than Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes' estimate of $3 trillion for the total cost of the Iraq War.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Buy enough communion wafers that Christ's body could reach Neptune from Earth


For the price of the Iraq War, we could've bought enough communion wafers to connect Earth to Neptune with the Body of Christ.  

According to various Christian denominations including Roman Catholicism and Lutheranism, communion wafers transform into the Body of Christ when blessed in the sacrament of the Eucharist.  1000 communion wafers, each 1.125 inches long, can be purchased for $12.29.  Neptune, the furthest planet in the solar system after the ruling that Pluto is not a planet, is approximately 4.5 billion kilometers from Earth.  Covering this distance would require 157 trillion communion wafers.  Buying this many communion wafers would cost $1.93 trillion, $1.07 trillion less than Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes' estimate of $3 trillion for the total cost of the Iraq War.

Video from 95thesesrap.com.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Electrify America with wind for ten years

For the price of the Iraq War, we could've satisfied American electricity demand with wind power for ten years.  

In 2005, America used 3.82 trillion kilowatt-hours of electricity.  In their 1996 paper "Alternative Windpower Ownership Structures: Financing Terms and Project Costs," Ryan Wiser and Edward Kahn of Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory's Energy and Environment Division calculated that a properly financed wind farm at a good site could produce electricity at 3.69 cents/kwH, or 5.15 cents/KwH adjusting for inflation.  Supplying America with wind power for a decade at these prices would cost $1.97 trillion, or $1030 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 Flidais.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Buy every Iraqi woman the clothes that the Republicans bought Sarah Palin

For the price of the Iraq War, we could've bought each Iraqi woman the clothes and accessories that the Republican Party has bought Sarah Palin during her Vice Presidential run.  

According to 2005 estimates, there are 13.3 million women in Iraq.  The Republican Party recently made headlines by buying Sarah Palin over $150,000 of clothes and accessories during her run.  Providing every Iraqi woman with the clothes and accessories that Sarah Palin purchased would cost $2.0 trillion, $1 trillion less than Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes' estimate of $3 trillion for the total cost of the Iraq War.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Buy a Tesla Roadster for everyone who graduates high school for the next five years

For the price of the Iraq War, we could've bought a Tesla Roadster for everyone who graduates high school for the next five years.  

The Tesla Roadster is an electric car capable of going from 0 to 60 mph in under 4 seconds and traveling 220 miles without a recharge.  Its base price is $109,000.  In 2008, 3.3 million high school diplomas were awarded.  At this rate, 16.5 high school students will graduate over the next five years.  Buying each of them a Tesla Roadster would cost $1.80 trillion, which is $1.2 trillion less than  Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes' estimate of $3 trillion for the total cost of the Iraq War.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Cure five trillion cases of childhood pneumonia

For the price of the Iraq War, we could have saved five trillion children from dying of pneumonia. 

Pneumonia, a lung infection that can be caused by a variety of microorganisms,  is responsible for 19 percent of the deaths of children worldwide.  It can be treated with a dose of antibiotic syrup costing 58 cents.  Treating 5 trillion children for pneumonia would cost $2.9 trillion, which is $100 billion less than Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes' estimate of $3 trillion for the total cost of the Iraq War.  

Monday, October 20, 2008

Help everyone on earth quit smoking five times over

For the price of the Iraq War, we could've bought enough Chantix® to help everybody on Earth quit smoking five times over. 
 
According to the World Bank, 1.142 billion people in the world smoke.  Antismoking therapy with Chantix® costs $112 per month and lasts three months.  Treating everyone on earth with this therapy five times over would cost $1.92 trillion, which is $1.08 trillion less than Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes' estimate of $3 trillion for the total cost of the Iraq War. 

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Run Obama campaigns for the next 10,000 years

For the price of the Iraq War, we could've funded Barack Obama presidential campaigns for the next 10,000 years.  

Barack Obama just raised a record-setting $150 million in September, pushing his total fundraising to $605 million.  If he raises the same amount in October he will have raised a total of $755 million for his presidential campaign.  The next 10,000 years will include 2500 presidential elections.  Similarly funding presidential campaigns for the next 10,000 years would cost $1.89 trillion, $1,110 billion less than Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes' estimate of $3 trillion for the total cost of the Iraq War.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Buy every donkey in the world a BMW Z4

For the price of the Iraq War, we could've bought every donkey in the world a fully loaded 2008 BMW Z4 convertible.  

There are around 44 million donkeys on earth.  The BMW Z4 convertible costs $52,400 fully loaded.   Buying each donkey a BMW Z4 would cost $2.31 trillion, or $690 billion less than 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 sheeshoo.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Buy each of Pelosi's constituents two dozen roses for every hour since Bush announced Social Security Privatization

For the price of the Iraq War, we could buy everyone in Nancy Pelosi's district two dozen roses each hour since George Bush announced that he would try to privatize Social Security in his second term.  

On November 5, 2004, President Bush announced that his re-election had given him "political capital" and named Social Security privatization as the first thing on which he would spend it. He proposed a plan that would invest Social Security funds in the stock market, which has fallen over 10% since then.  Nancy Pelosi, then the new House Minority Leader, pulled her beleaguered party together so that 201 of the 202 Democrats in the House opposed the plan. Without the possibility of bipartisan cover, Republican support for privatization crumbled.  

Pelosi has 639,088 constituents.  Two dozen roses in the "Double Touch of Elegance" bouquet cost $120 at 1-800-FLOWERS.  Buying each of her constituents two dozen roses each hour since November 5 would cost $2.65 trillion, or $350 billion less than Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes' estimate of $3 trillion for the total cost of the Iraq War.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Give each US plumber the monthly earnings of Roto-Rooter

For the price of the Iraq War, we could've given Joe the Plumber and each other US plumber, pipefitter, and steamfitter the monthly earnings of Roto-Rooter, the largest plumbing and drain cleaning company in America.  

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are 435,010 plumbers, pipefitters and steamfitters in America.  The plumbers and pipe fitters union was one of the first to endorse Barack Obama.   Roto-Rooter is the largest plumbing and drain cleaning company in America, reporting earnings before interest, depreciation, taxes, and amortization of $15.9 million in the first quarter of 2008, or $5.3 million per month.  Giving the monthly earnings of Roto-Rooter to each US plumber would cost $2.31 trillion, $690 billion less than Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes' estimate of $3 trillion for the total cost of the Iraq War.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Give all 9/11 victims a burial on Mars

For the price of the Iraq War, we could give all the victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks a burial and funeral on the planet Mars.  

Excluding the 19 hijackers, 2,974 people died in the 9/11 attacks. Another 24 are missing and presumed dead, for a total of 2,998. Each Mars Rover has a weight of 175.4 kilograms, which is considerably more than the vast majority of humans. Assembly, test, launch, and a year of operations of each Rover cost about $425 million. So for $850 million, we could send a person's body to Mars, accompanied by their own personal Mars Rover, to dig a grave, bury the body, and broadcast funeral rites. Burying each of the 9/11 victims on Mars would then cost a total of $2.55 trillion, which is $450 billion less than Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes' estimate of $3 trillion for the total cost of the Iraq War.

Thanks to reader Andrew Lang for sending in this suggestion with calculations. 

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Give every American household a herd of 125 Angora goats

For the price of the Iraq War, we could give every American household a herd of 125 Angora goats.  

The Angora goat is valued for its fur, called mohair, which is heavily subsidized today by the US government.  In 1993, a herd of 125 goats cost $14,600, or $22,136 in today's dollars.  As there are 112 million households in America, giving every American household a herd of 125 goats would cost $2.48 trillion, which is $520 trillion less than Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes' estimate of $3 trillion for the total cost of the Iraq War.

Image adapted under a Creative Commons License from ClifB.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Cover the Midwest in muslin

For the price of the Iraq War, we could've covered the Midwest in muslin.  

Florida resident Andy Lacasse posted the sign depicted above on his lawn to attack Barack Obama's racial background and putative religious views.  Muslin is a finely woven cotton fabric, not a term for the followers of Islam, the religion that Obama is sometimes falsely accused of following.  Onlinefabricstore.net sells 1 yard by 125 inches of muslin for $4.  

The midwest can be broadly defined to include the Dakotas, Nebraska, Kansas, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio, which have a combined land area of 822,000 square miles.  Covering this entire area with muslin from onlinefabricstore.net would cost $2.92 trillion, which is $80 billion less than Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes' estimate of $3 trillion for the total cost of the Iraq War.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Buy every man a Nieman Marcus suit, like the ones Norm Coleman denies receiving


For the price of the Iraq War, we could've bought every man on Earth a Nieman Marcus suit.  

Minnesota Senator Norm Coleman is accused of receiving improper free gifts, including a Nieman Marcus suit, from contributor Nasser Kazeminy.  The above video shows Coleman's campaign manager, Cullen Sheehan, repeatedly refusing to answer reporters' questions about whether Coleman received the free suits.  Senators are required to disclose gifts they receive with a value over $250.  

The cheapest of the 24 suits advertised on Nieman Marcus' front suit page costs $830 (considering a suit to include only the jacket and pants).  Buying such a suit for the 3.36 billion men on earth would cost a total of $2.79 trillion, which is $210 billion less than Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes' estimate of $3 trillion for the total cost of the Iraq War.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Buy each Somali enough cement to make seven Ryozen Kannon memorials

For the price of the Iraq War, we could've bought every Somali enough cement to make seven Ryozen Kannon memorial statues.  

A ship carrying cement was recently captured by pirates off the coast of Somalia, which has a population of 10 million.  Kyoto's Ryozen Kannon memorial, constructed in honor of the World War II dead from both sides, includes a large Bodhisattva statue made of 500 tons of cement, so it would take 35 billion tons of cement to build seven statues for each Somali.  A metric ton of cement costs $77 when bought in bulk.  So buying enough cement to make seven Ryozen Kannon statues for each Somali would cost $2.70 trillion, which is less than Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes' estimate of $3 trillion for the total cost of the Iraq War.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Make all Virginians rich enough to be taxed more by Obama

For the price of the Iraq War, we could make everybody in Virginia rich enough to have a portion of their taxes increased by Barack Obama.  

Barack Obama plans to raise taxes on income over $250,000 per year.  Whether people in this bracket experience a net tax increase under his plan will depend on their overall tax situation. The population of Virginia is 7.7 million.  Giving all Virginians $250,000 to raise them to the tax bracket where they'd experience some portion of Obama's tax increases would require $1.93 trillion, which is less than Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes' estimate of $3 trillion for the total cost of the Iraq War.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Buy out Japan

For the price of the Iraq War, we could've bought every publicly traded company in Japan at yesterday's closing price.  

The S&P Global Indices provide the best estimate of the total value of all the publicly traded companies in a nation. The 'Total Market Capitalization' of companies includes not only the value of all the shares of stock, but also any interest in the companies that may be controlled off the stock exchange by the government or other stakeholders. As of yesterday, the total market capitalization of the entire Japanese stock market is $2.95 trillion, which is less than Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes' estimate of $3 trillion for the cost of the Iraq War.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Provide forensic exams for every woman in the world

For the price of the Iraq War, we could provide forensic exams for each woman in the world, something that rape victims in Wasilla had to pay for with their own money during Sarah Palin's term as mayor.

In 2000, Alaska Governor Tony Knowles signed a bill making sure that rape victims wouldn't have to pay for their own forensic exams. According to the Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman, this was not common practice at the time in Wasilla:
While the Alaska State Troopers and most municipal police agencies have covered the cost of exams, which cost between $300 to $1,200 apiece, the Wasilla police department does charge the victims of sexual assault for the tests.
Using the figure in the middle of the range gives a cost per forensic exam of $750.  There are 3.33 billion women on earth. At that price, all 3.33 billion women could be provided with forensic exams for $2.50 trillion, which is less than Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes' estimate of $3 trillion for the total cost of the Iraq War.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Build an undersea subway from New York to Rome

For the price of the Iraq War, we could've built a undersea subway beneath the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea from New York to Rome.

The 31.35 mile Channel Tunnel, built from Folkestone in England to Calais in France, cost 4.65 billion pounds in 1985 prices, or $18.8 billion in today's dollars. This comes to $600 million per mile. The distance from New York to Rome is 4280 miles. At the price of the Channel Tunnel, we could've built a railway underneath the Atlantic and the Mediterranean between these two cities for $2.57 trillion, which is less than Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes' estimate of $3 trillion for the total cost of the Iraq War.

Image from Kdoug at Daily Kos.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Buy a mastectomy for each woman who could lose breast cancer screening coverage under McCain's health plan

For the price of the Iraq War, we could buy a mastectomy for each woman whose insurance company could move to Utah after the passage of McCain's health care plan, allowing the company to drop coverage for breast cancer screening.

John McCain's health care plan allows insurance companies to sell across state lines, obeying the regulations of the state in which they're headquartered while ignoring the regulations of the state in which their patients live. Currently, Utah is the only state that does not require breast cancer screening. By moving there, insurance companies could sell everywhere in the country and not cover breast cancer screening even if their patients' states required it.

There are 153 million women in the United States, excluding those in Utah.   A mastectomy cost $12,987 in 2001 dollars, or $16,066 in 2008 dollars. Buying a mastectomy for each of these women would cost $2.46 trillion, which is less than Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes' estimate of $3 trillion for the total cost of the Iraq War.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Buy the world's pistachio harvest for a thousand years

For the price of the Iraq War, we could've bought the world's pistachio harvest for a thousand years.  

The UN estimates global pistachio production at a total of 500,000 metric tons, worth $1.98 billion in 2001 dollars, or $2.45 billion in 2008 dollars.  At that price, buying the world's pistachio harvest for the next thousand years would cost $2.45 trillion, which is less than Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes' estimate of $3 trillion for the cost of the Iraq War.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Buy each Canadian their own minor league hockey team

For the price of the Iraq War, we could've bought each Canadian their own minor league hockey team.

According to 2008 estimates, the Canadian population is 33,366,000. In 2005, the Santa Fe Roadrunners of the North American Hockey League were sold for $75,000. At these prices, buying each Canadian a minor league hockey team valued at the same price as the Roadrunners would cost $2.5 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 Lone Primate.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Buy a large American flag for every molecule in a droplet of oil


For the price of the Iraq War, we could've bought an American flag for every molecule in a droplet of oil.  

At a McCain-Palin rally, Sarah Palin said, 
Oil and coal...it’s a fungible commodity and they don’t flag the molecules where it’s going and where it’s not. In the sense of the Congress today they know that there are very, very hungry domestic markets that need that oil first. So that I believe that what Congress is going to do also is not to allow the export bans to such a degree that it’s Americans who get stuck holding the bag without the energy source that is produced here, pumped here...it’s got to flow into the domestic markets first.
While different varieties of petroleum consist of different combinations of compounds, one representative compound is iso-octane, which has chemical formula C8H18 and atomic mass 114. A possible mass for an oil droplet is 7 x 10-15 kg.  Iso-octane has a density of .691.  Dividing by the atomic mass, multiplying by the density, and multiplying by Avogadro's number gives us a total of 25.5 billion molecules in an oil droplet.  A 5' by 8' heavyweight American flag can be bought for $96.89.  So buying a large American flag for every molecule in an oil droplet would cost $2.47 trillion, which is less than Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes' estimate of $3 trillion for the cost of the Iraq War.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Buy a California home every 20 seconds since Greenspan promoted alternative mortgages

For the price of the Iraq War, we could buy a California home every 20 seconds since Alan Greenspan gave his speech promoting adjustable rate mortgages.  

It has been 1683 days, or approximately 2.42 million minutes since February 23, 2004, when Alan Greenspan gave a speech titled "Understanding Household Debt Obligations" to the Credit Union National Association.   In the speech, Greenspan promoted adjustable rate mortgages and called for "greater mortgage product alternatives to the traditional fixed-rate mortgage." He claimed that rising debt-to-income ratios were not signs of "increasing household financial stress."

The median price paid for a California home in August was $301,000, down from $465,000 the year before.  (Half this drop is from depreciation -- the other half is from changes in the kinds of homes selling.)  Buying a California house every 20 seconds since Greenspan's speech would cost $2.19 trillion, which is less than Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes' estimate of $3 trillion for the cost of the Iraq War.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Buy Sarah Palin all US newspapers ever printed


For the price of the Iraq War, we could've bought Sarah Palin all copies of all US newspapers ever printed.

When asked by Katie Couric which newspapers she read, Sarah Palin answered, 'all of them'.
COURIC: And when it comes to establishing your world view, I was curious, what newspapers and magazines did you regularly read before you were tapped for this — to stay informed and to understand the world?

PALIN: I’ve read most of them again with a great appreciation for the press, for the media —

COURIC: But what ones specifically? I’m curious.

PALIN: Um, all of them, any of them that have been in front of me over all these years.

COURIC: Can you name any of them?

PALIN: I have a vast variety of sources where we get our news.
Newspaper industry circulation revenue totaled about $11 billion in 2004.  Using this figure as the value of each year's newspaper circulation since the founding of the country -- probably a high estimate, as the nation and its newspaper industry were smaller in early years -- the total value of all US newspapers is $2.55 trillion, which is less than Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes' estimate of $3 trillion for the cost of the Iraq War.