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Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Opportunity costs of the Iraq war

This is not a too brilliant collection of alternative uses for Iraq war monies but at least it gives some idea of the opportunity costs involved. It is from this site.

'Boston Globe' Web Site Calculates Other Uses For $611 Billion Spent on Iraq

By Joe Strupp

Published: November 12, 2007 11:10 PM ET

NEW YORK Boston.com, the Web site of The Boston Globe, has again taken a unique view of the latest Iraq War funding request, offering a look at what the $611.5 billion that would be spent so far on the war could buy if it was not used for the military operation.

The Web site provided a similar assessment in May when the price tag had reached $456 billion. Now with the latest appropriation request set to hike the cost to $611.5 billion, the Web staff has found a new list of would-be uses.

Dave Beard, editor of Boston.com, noted in an e-mail that the posting had remained the most popular news item on the Web site for the past two days.

"If the Bush administration succeeds in its latest request for funding for the war in Iraq, the total cost would rise to $611.5 billion, according to the National Priorities Project, a nonprofit research group," the staff stated in an online introduction. "The amount got us wondering: What would $611 billion buy?"

Among the findings, from college tuition to free gasoline -- each posted with an accompanying photo -- staffers revealed the following:

• "U.S. drivers consume approximately 384.7 million gallons of gasoline a day. Retail prices averaged $3.00 a gallon in early November. Breaking it down, $611 billion could buy gasoline for everybody in the United States, for about 530 days."

• "In fiscal 2008, Medicare benefits will total $454 billion, according to a Heritage Foundation summary. The $611 billion in war costs is 17 times the amount vetoed by the president for a $35 billion health."

• "According to World Bank estimates, $54 billion a year would eliminate starvation and malnutrition globally by 2015, while $30 billion would provide a year of primary education for every child on earth. At the upper range of those estimates, the $611 billion cost of the war could have fed and educated the world's poor for seven years."

• "At almost $15 billion, Boston's Central Artery project has been held up as the nation's most expensive public works project. Now multiply that by 40 and you're getting close to US taxpayers’ commitment to democracy in Iraq – so far."

• "At published rates for this year, $611 billion translates into almost 14 million free rides for a year at Harvard University. Tuition and fees at the University of Massachusetts-Boston could be paid for over 53 million years."

Of course, nothing in Boston is done without at least a slight connection to the Red Sox, so staffers added: "The Red Sox and Daisuke Matsuzaka agreed on a six-year, $52 million contract. The war cost could be enough to have Dice-K mania for more than 70,000-some years at this year's rate."

The presentation can be found here

The comparison has also prompted dozens of comments, which range from anti-Globe sentiment such as, "I would buy a newspaper which doesn't show its leftist bias in all aspects of its operation, from editorial page, to articles, to message boards" to attacks on the Bush administration: "(It is) almost enough to buy the net worth of Bush and Cheney after 8 years in the White House!"


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