November 12th, 2007

War In Iraq: What can $611 billion buy?

What would $611 billion buy?
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 amount got us wondering: What would $611 billion buy?
  • Nearly 14 million years' worth of tuition, room, and board at Harvard.
    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.

  • Nearly 4,000 Newton North High Schools
    Tagged as the most expensive high school in Massachusetts, at $154.6 million, the construction design for the new Newton North High School could be replicated almost 4,000 times using the money spent on the war.

  • 40 Big Digs
    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.

  • Almost 18 months' worth of free gas for everyone
    US 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.

  • Many, many environment-friendly cars on the road
    With $611 billion, you could convert all cars in America to run on ethanol nine times over.

    TheBudgetGraph.com estimates that converting the 136,568,083 registered cars in the United States to ethanol (conversion kits at $500) would cost $68.2 billion.

  • More than a year's worth of Medicare benefits for everyone
    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 benefit program for poor children.

  • A looong contract for Dice-K
    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.

  • A real war on poverty
    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.
Source: Boston.com