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.