Monday, June 30, 2008

Annual Salary of Congress, The Supreme Court, The President and Cabinet and all 50 Governors for 3 Years

For the cost of one day in Iraq, we could pay the annual salaries of all 3 branches of the United States government - Executive, Legislative, and Judicial - FOR 3 FULL YEARS.

The combined total for the annual salaries of The President, Vice President, 15 cabinet Secretaries, 100 Senators, 435 Representatives, and all 9 Supreme Court Justices comes out to $96,058,600.

(Based on the annual salaries for those positions)

That means for the cost of one day in Iraq, those salaries could be paid for just over 3 and a half years. In fact, you could also cover the annual salaries for all 50 State Governors ($6,219,900) for 3 years as well, and the total would only come to $306,835,500, which is still only approximately 92% of the cost of one day in Iraq.

And some people say Government is expensive...

Sources: Stateline, About, Infoplease

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Pay for a Year of Education for 36,364 Children

For the cost of one day in Iraq, we could pay for a year's worth of education for 36,364 children in the public school system, grades 1-12.

(Based on the U.S. Census national average of $9,138 per pupil in 2005-06).

In Utah, where the amount of money spent per pupil is lowest, this equates to yearly education for 61,175 children. Or 48,278 students in Tennessee.

At $13,446 per student in Washington D.C. (one of the highest averages), we could pay for 24,714 students - nearly half of D.C.'s total public school enrollment.

When you consider that education should be one of a government's highest priorities, and with school districts forced to make extreme budget cuts in recent years, this is yet another compelling way to evaluate the real costs of the occupation of Iraq.

Sources: U.S. Census Bureau

Thanks LK for the tip!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

1,253,962 Rounds of Golf at Torrey Pines Golf Course (Special Dads Edition)

For the cost of one day in Iraq, you could buy one lucky Dad 1,253,963 rounds of golf at the famous Torrey Pines South Golf Course, the current site of the U.S. Open.

(based on the weekend/holiday rate of $265 for a tee time)

Just think, Father's Day would no longer be celebrated only one day a year! Dad would be able to reward himself for being a father with a round of golf every day for the next 3,435 years.

To put all that golf in perspective, if King Tut had been given this gift in say, his last year as Pharaoh in 1323 BC, he (or his descendants if the gift was transferrable) would still have over 104 years of daily golf to play.

Now that's a Father's Day gift!

Friday, June 13, 2008

University Tuition for 10,553 Harvard Students (Special Grads Edition)

For one day in Iraq, 10,563 students could have their tuition paid at Harvard for an entire year. 

(based on the average annual tuition of $31,456)

However, since there are only 6,700 undergraduates at Harvard, a potentially more efficient use of the money would be to cover all 4 years for 2641 students, or approximately 39% of the entire undergraduate population. 

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Convert 47,471 Cars from Gas to Electric

For the cost of one day in Iraq, Americans could convert 47,471 cars to run entirely on electric motors.

(Based on the estimated cost of $7,000 per conversion - June, 2008)

Gas prices in the U.S. are at an all-time high. It's true, they are! But you could be one of the 47,471 car owners to never complain about gas prices again - if we took the money spent over the course of one day in Iraq and put it toward electric conversions.

The average automobile in the U.S. puts out 1.5 tons of carbon per year. At this rate, we could reduce the U.S.'s carbon emissions by 71,206.5 tons per year for the lifetime of those cars - for the cost of one day in Iraq.

Converting to electric energy would also save the driver $1800 a year on average (at early 2008 gas prices). Electric engines have a virtually infinite lifespan, but electric car owners do have to chip in some money to replace the batteries every 3-4 years.

Sources: Environmental New Network, Environmental Defense Fund

Thanks LK for the tip!

Monday, June 9, 2008

52.5 Million Trees Planted

For the cost of one day in Iraq, we could plant 52,662,441 new trees through a Dell/Conservation Fund partnership.

(Based on Dell's projected cost of $6.31 per tree)

Dell's Plant a Tree for Me initiative, a collaboration with and the Conservation Fund, allows consumers to offset the carbon emissions from their computer purchases. The project estimates that each tree planted will offset 1.33 tons of CO2 over 70 years. Of course, this is the amount of CO2 generated by a desktop computer in only 3 years.

With 15 million computers are purchased annually in the U.S., for the cost of just one day in Iraq, we could plant enough trees to offset the carbon emissions from all new computers bought between Jan. 2005 and the present.

Sources: Greener Choices,

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Dragon Skin Body Armor for 66,460 Troops

For the cost of one day in Iraq, we could outfit 66,460 troops stationed in Iraq with "Dragon Skin," the body armor widely accepted to be the best on the market - better than the less expensive armor the troops are given currently.

For $332.3 million a day, you would think we'd be equipping our troops in Iraq with top-of-the-line combat gear, right? The armor they currently wear is called "Interceptor," but per an NBC investigation that used Department of Defense research, Dragon Skin is the armor of choice for Army VIPS in Iraq and Afghanistan and CIA operatives. Even the inventor of Interceptor, Jim Magee, agrees that Dragon Skin is superior to his own.

At around $5,000 for a full suit of Dragon Skin, 66,460 troops - or nearly half the 155,000 total in Iraq - would be given the best protection. For the cost of just over two days in Iraq, every military personnel would be covered. Or if the Army insisted on using the less expensive Interceptor armor, one day in Iraq could purchase 302,090 full suits - or two suits each - and troops could layer one Interceptor over another.

Source: MSNBC

66,460,000 Footlong Subs

For the cost of one day in Iraq, we could buy 66,460,000 footlong sub sandwiches from Subway.

(Based on Subway's current $5 footlong promotion)

At this price, we could buy every U.S. troop currently stationed in Iraq (approximately 155,000) a footlong Subway sandwich of their choice (a filling lunch) for the next 429 days, or about a year and 10 weeks.

This might be a nice alternative to the Halliburton-provided meals that the Pentagon found in 2004 were prepared in "dirty kitchens" with "blood all over the floor" and "rotting meats and vegetables."

And you might be surprised to learn (as we were) that there are currently 19 Subway restaurants located in Iraq - so no need to worry about shipping costs or refrigeration.

Sources: Center for American Progress

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Rebuild 2,215 New Homes in New Orleans' Lower Ninth

For the cost of one day in Iraq, 2,215 new homes could be rebuilt in New Orleans' Lower Ninth Ward, the area that suffered most during Hurricane Katrina. This is nearly half of the entire neighborhood, and 15 times the number of homes that Brad Pitt's foundation, Make it Right, has pledged to rebuild with private donations.

(Based on Make it Right's estimate of $150,000 per house)

Three years after Katrina, New Orleans residents are still waiting for the promised long-term rebuilding funds from governernment organizations to trickle through. Fewer than half of New Orleans' previous schools and hospitals are up and running.

The amount in emergency funds sent to New Orleans by FEMA immediately following the hurricane was $343 million - just about the cost of one day in Iraq. The city's reconstruction plan is slated to cost $1.1 billion total - just about the cost of 3 days in Iraq. For the cost of 3 days in Iraq, New Orleans would have the entire funding for their reconstruction plan instead of waiting another 3 years or longer.

Make it Right, Christian Science Monitor, Scholastic

Thanks to Jessica at CommentsinRED!

Free Tickets for Every Person Who Saw "Indiana Jones 4" on Opening Weekend

For the cost of one day in Iraq, every single person worldwide who saw "Indiana Jones and The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" on opening weekend could have seen it for free.

(Based on the worldwide gross figures of $311 million)

Having paid for each person's movie ticket, we still have just over $22 million for concessions, which amounts to a few dozen bags of popcorn at most multiplexes or 27.8 million bags of M&Ms if bought elsewhere and snuck into the theatre.

And for those who might have been disappointed with the final installment of the Indiana Jones franchise, consider this: for the cost of just over one day in Iraq, $374 million, you could re-make all four Indiana Jones films (production budgets adjusted for inflation).

Monday, May 26, 2008

How Would You Spend The Money?

Regardless of political affiliation, we think everyone should know and understand how their tax money is spent. Defense spending in Iraq currently accounts for $332.3 million per day. The scale of this spending is so large that it's difficult to truly grasp what this amount of money represents. $332.3 million - imagine everything that could be done with that money, if the troops had one day off!

From a purely economic standpoint, the Iraq occupation is a catastrophic failure. By spending $332.3 million each day in Iraq, the U.S. is spending dramatically more money than it takes in, borrowing immense sums from China and other foreign investors. Eventually, the accumulated $9 trillion debt will have to be paid back - by the American tax payer.

Unfortunately, the American public has not been given much opportunity to compare Iraq spending with other uses for the money. We hope that by making the figure "$332.3 million" a more tangible amount, we who are footing the bill can make a more informed decision on whether the Iraq War is our preferred use of the money.

This blog will offer alternatives; some poignant and some entertaining, but all in the spirit of recognizing what $332.3 million represents.

It's partly a coping mechanism for us to imagine all the wonderful things we could do just by taking off One Day in Iraq, but it's also a good motivation for us to demand our leaders do something more productive with the money.

We invite you to share with us what you would do with $332.3 million, with economic figures documented by a reputable source: We also invite you to contact your elected officials and express your outrage over the tax money that is being siphoned into a military project with questionable productive value.

85,618,557 Gallons of Gas for Memorial Day Weekend

For the cost of one day in Iraq, Americans could buy 85,618,557 gallons of gas for road trips on Memorial Day weekend.

(Based on the national average fuel price of $3.88 per gallon recorded May 23, 2008)

This means a person could drive a Ford Focus with a 14-gallon gas tank* 352,908 times across the U.S., from NYC to LA, round trip.

But let's say you want to go someplace further on your vacation - like the moon (in your Ford Focus). For the cost of one day in Iraq, you could buy enough gas to drive to the moon and back 4,122 times.

Or if all those round trips don't appeal to you, you could drive to Saturn and back once, with a few million miles left over.

* Ford Focus was the most popular car model sold in 2007 according to Guinness.

Annual Healthcare for 27,463 Families

For the cost of one day in Iraq, 27,463 families of four living in the U.S. would have healthcare coverage for a full year.

(Based on the 2007 average of $12,100 for a family of four under employment-based healthcare plans)

This would mean coverage for the entire populations of Charleston, South Carolina or Gainesville, Florida.

Sources: National Coalition on Healthcare,

116,264 Yankees Season Ticket Packages

For the cost of one day in Iraq, 116,264 people could buy season ticket box seats for the New York Yankees (81 games).

(Based on the average season ticket package prices for 2008)

The only foreseeable problem with purchasing this many tickets is that Yankee Stadium only seats 57,545 people. For the cost of one day in Iraq, the Yankees could fill every seat in the stadium for the next 2 years, with 1,000 people on the waitlist for year 3.

Perhaps a reasonable solution would be to hold a lottery and give one lucky winner 2 Loge Box Level seats on the First Base-line... for the next 506 years.

Source: New York Yankees

6,886 Law Enforcement Officers' Salaries

For the cost of one day in Iraq, 6,886 police officers would have their salaries paid for the entire year.

(Based on the median starting salary of $48,254 for law enforcement officers)

In other words, approximately 50% of the Chicago Police Department, 100% of the Philadelphia Police Department, and 4.9 times the police force in New Orleans, which is the U.S. murder capital of 2007.

Sources:, Chicago Police Dept, Wikipedia,

How did we calculate $332.3 million?

Various reports mark the cost of the U.S. occupation of Iraq at anywhere from $280 million/day on the low end, to $720 million/day - a number put forth by Nobel prize-winning economist Joseph E. Stieglitz that factors in not only immediate costs but death, debt, and long-term opportunity costs.

A like-minded group, the National Priorities Project, estimates the cost of the Iraq War at $341.1 million per day, based on analysis of federal budget data. They also offer a useful counter tool that helps you estimate the total cost to your specific community.

Because our concern is not with debating the legitimacy of data, but with the big-picture impact of the costs in Iraq, we opted to use the numbers quoted by the Congressional Record Service and cited in the Democratic Caucus' Senate Journal. These estimates break down to the following:
  • $11 billion each month
  • $ 332.3 million each day
  • $3,845 each second

Other figures of note:

- $526 billion has been spent on Iraq to date

- Government funding for Iraq increased 160% between 2004-2008

With these numbers in mind, we urge you to consider some spending alternatives.