26 February 2008

If I Had 3 Trillion Dollars

I’m offering a meme that tests the limits of imagination. What would you do with $3 trillion? This is not “take your family to Disneyland” money. This is "buy the whole Disney company" money – and then look around for another 50 companies with similar market cap.

The Bush Administration initially estimated that the Iraq invasion and occupation would cost $50 to $60 billion. White House economist Larry Lindsay said it would cost $100 to $200 billion and was fired for his effrontery. The total cost of the invasion and occupation is now estimated to exceed $3,000,000,000,000 - $3 trillion.

To put it in perspective, this would be equivalent to a car mechanic estimating a repair at $739 and then charging you $44,340 when you came to pick up the car. (“$3 trillion! For that much I could have bought a NEW country!”) To miss an estimate this badly is ludicrous; to miss it on such an astronomically huge amount is insane.

$3 trillion is a staggering sum. If you magically got $1 million each time you sang the chorus of Barenaked Ladies’ “If I Had Million Dollars,” you would have to repeat that chorus 3 million times. Assuming it took you 20 seconds per go and singing 12 hours a day, you would need 1 million minutes, or nearly 4 YEARS of singing just to generate $3 trillion.

Here are some things I could do with that much money.

I could buy the world coke – at the current street price of $137 a gram, I could buy everyone on earth one gram – and then have money enough left over to put 1 billion people through rehab at $2,178 each.

I could buy a million dollar McMansion for 3 million homeless people. If I forced them to share the homes in groups of four, say, I could house about 12 million.

I could end the hunger that kills 6 million children around the world each year – for a century.

I could retire to the south of France. Actually, I could buy the south of France.

What about you? What could you do with $3 trillion? As you answer this meme, let me know: I’ll add the links to your responses below this post. Meanwhile, sing along with the Barenaked Ladies, substituting this blog post title for their song title. It's not easy work, spending $3 trillion. You'll need some inspiration.


jen said...

i'd eradicate poverty in a systemic fashion, community by community with microfinancing, sustainable agriculture, community development, all of it. as far as i could go till it ran out.

and i'd do it all in a real green dress.

cce said...

Sheesh, I can't wrap my head around this $3 trillion. As you said, this is not just a lifetime of tennis clinics this is purchasing the metropolitan museum and doling out $100 bills on street corners kind of cash. Uhmmm, I'll have to give it some thought (unlike our current administration.)

ThomasLB said...

I would love to see the looks on the neighbor's faces when you start moving hoboes into gated communities!

I think I would take a page out of John Lennon's book and start a massive advertising campaign for peace. I think we could make some real headway with that much money.

HRH said...

Hmmmm...I haven't a clue, but if I may comment that buying the world coke and then rehab seems a bit counter-productive.

Dave said...

"To miss an estimate this badly is ludicrous; to miss it on such an astronomically huge amount is insane."

They didn't miss: they lied.

Ron Davison said...

to match that real green hair. Perfect.

now that you see how hard it is to think about such sums, maybe you'll be a little easier on dubya. It's not as easy as it looks.

what's the quip? Once there is as much money in peace as there is in war, it might break out all over.

my point exactly - I'm just trying to think like a politician.

do you think that even they had a clue what they were getting into?

Damon said...

oh posh. they didnt lie...they just "misunderestimated" =)

Come on. as if any of the administration EVER imagined it would take this much work, let alone any of you.

Be honest with yourselves for once and remember how we all thought this would be quick and easy.

even Hillary agreed. =)

Dave said...

Actually, Ron and Damon, I think you are more right than I am. At a point they started lying about cost. Early on? They weren't thinking. Or they were thinking, "let's go in and get this thing done. Should have done it the first time around."

That said, no Damon I didn't think it would be quick and easy. I've read a lot of history. Ethnic and religious hatred have been around much too long to allow the conclusion that our way of life could be overlaid on the Middle East in any quick fashion.

Ron Davison said...

Dave & Damon,
I don't think that a person should confuse a lack of media coverage on this point as the same as a lack of puzzlement. Did anyone think this would become a $3 trillion ordeal? I doubt it. Did lots of people question that it could be done at all? Yes - they just weren't covered by the "liberal" media.

Lifehiker said...

Three trillion? That's what the Iraq war will cost us eventually?

I like to think of it in terms of Iraqis. There's about 25 million of them - at least there were before a lot died or left the country.

If my math is right, that means we will spend $120,000 per Iraqi on this incredibly stupid war. We would have been much smarter to offer every one of them $25,000 if they would oust Saddam and set up a working democracy - cash on delivery. But it's too late now.

To answer your question, I would have spent the money on scholarships for kids to go to grade school, high school, and college. If you attend and get a "C" average, you get some cash. You get more for a "B", and even more for an "A". Just like the world - do well and prosper.

We've got to out-educate our worldwide competitors or we are screwed. Educated kids make the best citizens, best parents, and best workers. I'm willing to buy performance.

nunya said...

I always wanted to open up some really safe shelters for battered women and their children if I won the lottery.