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.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Buy the global kiwi harvest until 5000 AD

For the price of the Iraq War, we could buy the global kiwi harvest until the year 5000 AD.

Global kiwi production in 2005 totaled 1.15 million metric tons, which is worth $775 million adjusted for inflation. At this price, buying up the global kiwi harvest until 5000 AD would cost $2.32 trillion, which is $680 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 Darren Hester.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Pay full tuition at Stanford for every American child in poverty

For the price of the Iraq War, we could pay full tuition at Stanford for every US child in poverty.

13.2 million American children come from families with incomes below the poverty line, which is $21,200 for a family of four. Tuition at Stanford is $36,030, or $144,120 for four years. Paying full tuition at Stanford for every child in poverty would cost $1.90 trillion, which is $1.10 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 darkmatter.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Buy Uranus at the per acre price of Alaska

For the price of the Iraq War, we could buy the planet Uranus at the per acre price we paid for Alaska in 1867, adjusted for inflation.  

Uranus, the seventh planet in the Solar System, has a surface area of 8.084 billion square kilometers, about 16 times that of Earth.  The total purchase price of Alaska in 2008 dollars is $360 million.  At 1.72 million square kilometers, this comes to $209 per square kilometer. Buying Uranus at these prices would cost $1.69 trillion, which is $1.31 trillion less than Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes' estimate of $3 trillion for the total cost of the Iraq War. 

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Feed Sheriff Joe Arpaio moldy bologna for the next billion years

For the price of the Iraq War, we could feed Sheriff Joe Arpaio moldy bologna for the next billion years.  

As Jill at Feministe describes, Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, AZ has engaged in a variety of unusual practices, from having a civilian 'posse' hunt down illegal immigrants to feeding prisoners moldy bologna.  He has lost several lawsuits for wrongfully killing or injuring inmates.

At 90 calories a slice, Joe would need to eat 2.78 8-slice packages of Oscar Mayer bologna a day to make up a 2000-calorie diet. Regular bologna sells for $2.69 at the Casa Grande, AZ Safeway. At that price, keeping Sheriff Joe alive on nothing but bologna for a billion years would cost $2.73 trillion, which is $270 billion less than Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes' estimate of $3 trillion for the total cost of the Iraq War.

Thanks to reader Stentor Danielson for sending in this suggestion with calculations.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Buy Hillary a Toyota Camry for every second of the average Secretary of State's term

For the price of the Iraq War, we could buy Hillary Clinton a Toyota Camry for every second of the average US Secretary of State's term.  

Rumors are circulating that Hillary Clinton will serve as Secretary of State for Barack Obama, a position that has far less job security than her current position as a Senator from reliably Democratic New York.  There have been 67 Secretaries of State in our nation's history, with each one serving an average of 3.22 years or about 102 million seconds.  The base price for a new Toyota Camry is $19,145.  At these prices, giving Hillary a Camry for every second of the average Secretary of State's term would cost $1.95 trillion, or $1.05 trillion less than Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes' estimate for the total cost of the Iraq War.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Buy enough Neiman Marcus pajamas for all women in the years A.D. to blog in


For the price of the Iraq War, we could've bought enough Neiman Marcus pajamas for all women born since 1 AD to wear while blogging.  

In the clip above, TV host Rachel Maddow cites Sarah Palin's contribution to spreading the meme that blogging is often done in pajamas.  Extrapolating from Population Research Bureau data suggests that 30 billion women were born since 1 AD.  A set of leopard-print cotton pajamas costs $100 at Neiman Marcus, the store from which Sarah Palin's family acquired $150,000 of clothes during her run for the vice-presidency.  At this price, we could've bought leopard-print cotton pajamas for all women since 1 AD for $3 trillion, which is Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes' estimate for the total cost of the Iraq War. 

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Give Joe Lieberman 20 billion tons of manure

For the price of the Iraq War, we could've given Joe Lieberman 20 billion tons of manure.  

After fervently supporting the Iraq War and losing the Connecticut Democratic primary, Joe Lieberman supported John McCain in 2008.  The Democratic Party is still deciding whether to let him stay on as chairman of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, which has the power to investigate the future President Obama.  A 40 pound bag of manure costs $2.69 at Ace.  At this price, we could've given Joe Lieberman 20 billion tons of shit for $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.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Make enough $30 DNC donations to give everyone two weeks of Obama-Biden victory shirts

For the price of the Iraq War, we could've made enough $30 donations to the DNC for everyone on earth to get 14 Obama-Biden victory shirts -- enough to wear a new one every day for two weeks.  

After taking on debt to implement Howard Dean's 50-state strategy and assist Democratic candidates in the 2008 elections, the DNC is raising funds by giving out Obama-Biden T-shirts to anyone who donates $30 or more.  Giving 14 of these shirts to each of the 6.7 billion humans would cost $2.81 trillion, which is $190 billion less than  Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes' estimate of $3 trillion for the total cost of the Iraq War.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Pay every Mexican the minimum wage to stay home for ten years

For the price of the Iraq War, we could've humanely dealt with illegal immigration by paying every Mexican their country's minimum wage to stay in Mexico for ten years.  

The minimum wage in Mexico is 52.59 pesos per day, or $4.11 per day at current exchange rates.  Paying this wage every day of the year for 10 years to the 108 million Mexicans would cost $1.62 trillion, $1.38 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 nathangibbs.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Give every Alaskan ten times the gifts that Ted Stevens lied about receiving

For the price of the Iraq War, we could give each Alaskan ten times the gifts that Senator Ted Stevens, lied about receiving.  

On October 27, Alaska Senator Ted Stevens was found guilty of seven counts of making false statements about $250,000 in gifts that he had received.  While polls currently show him leading his Democratic opponent Mark Begich by 1%, Nate Silver notes that many absentee and early ballots have yet to be counted.  There are 683,478 people in Alaska.  Giving each of them ten times as much as Stevens received would cost $1.71 trillion, $1.29 trillion less than Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes' estimate of $3 trillion for the total cost of the Iraq War.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Buy the world's cinnamon harvest for ten thousand years

For the price of the Iraq War, we could've bought the world's cinnamon harvest for the next ten thousand years.  

135,000 metric tons of cinnamon were harvested in 2005.  At 2001 prices, this much cinnamon was valued at $235 million.  Adjusting for inflation into 2008 dollars, buying this much cinnamon for ten thousand years would cost $2.90 trillion, or $100 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 Kiri :D.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Pay every unemployed American a Congressperson's salary

For the price of the Iraq War, we could pay every unemployed American a Congressperson's annual salary.

According to the Department of Labor, 10.1 million Americans were unemployed in October, the highest figure since 1983.  A Congressperson's salary for 2008 is $169,300.  Paying each unemployed American a Congressional salary would cost $1.71 trillion, or $1.29 trillion less than Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes' estimate of $3 trillion for the total cost of the Iraq War.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Protect Alaskan wolves and moose from aerial hunting with 30 surface-to-air missiles each

For the price of the Iraq War, we could protect each moose and wolf in Alaska from returning Governor Sarah Palin and other hunters with 30 surface-to-air missile launchers.  

The RIM-116 Rolling Airframe Missile launcher is planned or installed on 100 Navy ships, and costs $444,000.  Each launcher contains up to 21 infrared-guided missiles for shooting down aircraft.   Alaska has up to 11,200 wolves and about 150,000 moose.  In recent years, aerial hunting of wolves has become more popular, and Governor Palin supports the practice. Protecting each animal with its own 30 surface-to-air missiles would cost $2.15 trillion, or $850 billion less than Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes' estimate of $3 trillion for the total cost of the Iraq War.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Give the Georgians who forced Sen. Chambliss into a runoff 300-meter cubes of corn whiskey

Georgia law requires 50% of the total plus one vote for a candidate to win the election outright without a runoff election. According to current totals, Republican incumbent Saxby Chambliss has 1,841,454 votes, giving him 49.83% of the total. If 6251 more people had voted for Saxby Chambliss instead of Democrat Jim Martin or Libertarian Dean Buckley, Chambliss would have won. 

Georgia Moon Corn Whiskey costs $12.95 per 750 ml bottle. It would take 36 million bottles to make a 300-meter cube of whiskey. Buying each of the 6251 Georgians who forced Chambliss into a runoff by voting for Martin or Buckley such a cube of whiskey would cost $2.91 trillion, or $90 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 ElCapitan.  For more information on the Georgia Senate race, visit my site about Saxby Chambliss!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Buy Everyone A 27" TV To Watch Obama's Inaugural Address

For the price of the Iraq War, we could buy everyone on earth a 27" color TV with which to watch President Obama's inaugural address. 

There are 6.7 billion people on Earth. A Sharp 27" color TV costs $330. Buying each person their own TV would cost $2.21 trillion, or $790 billion less than Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes' estimate of $3 trillion for the total cost of the Iraq War.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Give every American the median wage for the next hundred election days

For the price of the Iraq War, we could make it easier for working Americans to take time off and vote by paying them the median hourly wage for the next 100 election days.  

There are 225 million adults in America, 6.1% of whom are unemployed.  The median hourly wage in America is $15.10.  Assuming an 8 hour workday, paying each working American adult the median hourly wage for the next 100 election days would cost $2.55 trillion, $450 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 deritastudio.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Make each swing state vote worth $10,000

For the price of the Iraq War, we could make every vote for the right candidate in a swing state worth $10,000 according to philosopher Derek Parfit's calculations in Reasons and Persons.  

Chapter 3 of Reasons and Persons, "Five Mistakes in Moral Mathematics", contains the section "Ignoring Very Small Chances". In it, Parfit cites academic research suggesting that the likelihood of an individual vote in a swing state deciding a presidential election is 1 in 100 million. Parfit argues that voting is still rational for those who have concern for others, despite the low likelihood of deciding the election. 

If the difference between the policies of the better and worse presidential candidate is $1 trillion when added up across everyone, the 1 in 100 million chance of deciding the election divides out to a value of $10,000 to everyone.  Despite the tiny chance of deciding the election, the tremendous value of a better president makes voting rational for those who care about others.  Making every vote have a value of $1 trillion comes to $2 trillion less than Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes' estimate of $3 trillion for the total cost of the Iraq War.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Buy everyone in Sean Hannity's audience a Swift Boat

For the price of the Iraq War, we could've bought everyone in Sean Hannity's audience their own Swift Boat.  

While the Vietnam-era Fast Patrol Craft are no longer being produced, Small Unit Riverine Craft are the contemporary equivalents of Swift Boats.  Like the Swift Boats of the Vietnam War, they are equipped with armored hulls, radar, and three machine gun mounts, and carry small numbers of soldiers along rivers. The Marine Corps paid around $27 million for 40 of these boats, giving them a unit cost of $675,000.  Right-wing TV host Sean Hannity has 3.5 million viewers. Buying each Hannity viewer his own Swift Boat would cost $2.36 trillion, which is $640 billion less than Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes' estimate of $3 trillion for the total cost of the Iraq War.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Give every Bengal tiger the wealth of Richard Mellon Scaife

For the price of the Iraq War, we could give every Bengal tiger the wealth of right-wing billionare Richard Mellon Scaife.  

Richard Mellon Scaife is an heir to the Mellon family fortune.  His past activities include donating $990,000 to Nixon before modern campaign finance laws, donating $1.8 million to an effort to unearth damaging information about Bill Clinton, and donating $2 million to a right-wing group called "Accuracy in Media" which produced an October 14 article titled "Was a Communist Obama's Sex Teacher?"  Scaife's wealth totals $1.2 billion.  

Bengal tigers are among the largest subspecies within the tiger family.  Their past activities include eating wild boars, eating water buffalos, and eating rhinoceros.  Giving the estimated 1,411 Bengal tigers each $1.2 billion would cost $1.69 trillion, or $1.31 trillion less than Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes' estimate of $3 trillion for the total cost of the Iraq War.