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What would you do with $200.000.000.000?

January 28, 2007

When someone wins a million dollars, the local newspapers always ask the same question: What will you do with the money? The New York Times asks America a similar question: What could you have done with the 200 billion dollars spent on the war in Iraq every year?

According to David Leonhardt of the New York Times, economic adviser Lawrence Lindsey predicted that the costs for invading Iraq would go as high as $200 billion. President Bush promptly fired Lindsey for this bleak prediction. Almost four years later, it seems that Lindsey was right. Sort of. The war in Iraq has cost about $200 billion. A year. $200 billion A YEAR!

The wish list:

As Leonhardt kindly points out, the human mind isn’t very well equipped to make sense of that big a number. The way to come to grips with such a sum, he writes, is to think about what you could buy with all that money. Here are some of the answers:

$100 billion a year would buy universal healthcare for all people in the U.S. without it.

$35 billion a year could pay for unniversal preschool for all 3- and 4-year olds.

$10 billion would be enough to carry out the 9/11 Commision security recommendations

$6 billion would pay for a lot of cancer research

$0.6 billion would give the children of the world immunization against measles, whooping cough, tetanus, tuberculosis, polio and diphteria.

This means that if you were the American President, and Congress had granted you$200 billion a year, you could either make the world at better place, secure your homeland and make your voters safe, happy and healthy….. or you could just invade Iraq. What would you choose?

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