In my post a moment ago I mentioned how I’d once heard that, for the money the US spent on the war in Vietnam, we could have paid for the installation of an in-ground swimming pool for each and every Vietnamese family instead. What a great way to win the hearts and minds of our enemies, eh? So I decided to try out the math for this stupid, awful, and infuriating Iraq war. What if we had tried to bribe the Iraqi people to overthrow Saddam Hussein and install a working democracy instead of imposing these things (rather: trying futilely to do so) by force?
Cost of war to US taxpayers as of March 28, 2008: a bit over $506,359,000,000. Source
Population of Iraq in July 2008, according to the CIA World Factbook
I threw in 2,000,000 extra people to account for the dead and refugees, so the numbers below are based on an estimated population 29.5 million people.
Cost per Iraqi (each man, woman, and child) paid so far by US taxpayers on the war: $17,767.21.
First of all, what if we’d just offered Saddam Hussein and his top leadership only, say, half the total that we’ve spent–roughly $253 billion–to leave Iraq and go live in the Bahamas? Well, if he’d refused but the so-called free market loving leadership in the US had pursued this market line of thinking, we could have had Hussein overthrown–without the loss of a single American life–by offering each man, woman, and child in Iraq any of the following.
- a 16′ x 24′ x 42′ in ground swimming pool ($10,403 each, therefore leaving $7,364 in leftover cash for each Iraqi)
- a 2009 Toyota Matrix ($16,190 each, leaving $1,577 in leftover cash for each Iraqi)
- considering all the hot sunlight they get in Iraq, how about 15 grid-tie photovoltaic solar panels rated at 208 watts each for a total of 3,120 watts of peak output! ($17,685 for the set of panels, leaving $82 in leftover cash for each Iraqi)
- or considering reports of those windy sandstorms, how about 2 Skystream grid-tie wind turbines with a 33 foot monopole wind tower for each ($15,998 for the set, leaving $1,769 in leftover cash for each Iraqi)
- or, in the interest of spreading American culture around to every nook and cranny of this planet, how about 250 traditional and all-American apple pies (each serves eight) plus 846 pints of Ben & Jerry’s organic ice cream! ($17,745 for the package, leaving $22 in leftover cash for each Iraqi to spend on insulin and other diabetes care)
There you have it. The Iraqi people could have had a Saddam Hussein-free Iraq and eaten their apple pie, too. But that’s not the way we did it, because, as usual, the American government tried to do it on the cheap. Haven’t any of these people heard “penny wise, pound foolish” before? And now Bush/Cheney and McCain have got their sights set on going double-or-nothing broke in Iran as well. Will you