Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Some Interesting Facts

Erik had a post yesterday in which he pointed out that the Iraq war has crossed a threshold, causing more American deaths than the War of 1812, the Seminole Wars, the Mexican-American War, and the Spanish-American War.

He also pointed out that this war has now cost $432 Billion, and asked the question-- what is that for every person in the United States. The answer is $1,440 for every man, woman and child in the United States (assuming a population of 300 million). In a family of four, that's $5,760.

What else could your family have spent that money on?

Here are some more numbers to ponder:

The B-2 stealth bomber cost $23 Billion to develop-- that's the cost before even one flew. The first one flew in 1993. Despite a 1995 study for Congress that determined that after the fall of the Soviet Union, there was no use for the B-2, the program was continued over the protestations of the Air Force, which had no mission for the aircraft, and understood how expensive the B-2 was to operate. Despite this, 21 aircraft were built and deployed. Because their maintenance is difficult, they are all based in an airbase in Missouri, further limiting their operational effectiveness. Because of the distance, missions to Iraq took 30 and up to 50 hours.

Because of the costs, the first 21 of the originally-planned 132 aircraft were the only ones built. Those 21 cost, between development and building costs, according to a GAO report, $44.4 Billion. This is over $2 Billion per aircraft. And this is not even to mention the operating costs. By comparision, an aircraft carrier costs about $4 Billion.

And of course, this begs the question, how does a $2 billion bomber help a US soldier against a guy with a car bomb?

Thinking about it a little further, what could $44.4 Billion have bought? It could have given $100,000 college scholarships to 444,000 people. Can you think of anyone who could have used one of those scholarships?

What kind of mass transit system could $44.4 billion have purchased for a few cities, greatly reducing oil use? What could $432 billion have purchased? A nationwide high speed rail system? A lot of new schools? Put a lot of cops on the street? Paid for a lot of drug rehab? Treated a lot of mentally ill people?

Here's a thought: we have about 2 million people incarcerated in the United States. That's greater than the population of 50 of the world's 192 countries-- more than a quarter of them.

Think there's a connection between all of these things?

8 comments:

Barbara Bruederlin said...

I'm guessing that your country's administration have never asked themselves those questions. Although they should.

Skylers Dad said...

And meanwhile, my son Skyler is on a list of over 2000 waiting for services to help defray the cost of items that insurance won't pay (which is about everything).

With the currant rate of people getting services, we expect Skyler's name to come up sometime in his 50's - seriously...

deadspot said...

The Republicans will never support education grants that aren't tied to military service. If you're poor and educated, you don't vote Republican.

Erik Donald France said...

Thanks dude -- and thanks for doing the math, which no one in government seems to be doing.

As far as waste, all those destroyed Humvees must add up, the downed choppers, the run down armor, and the complete waste of people -- tens of thousands who will need permanent medical and psychiatric care long after Bush and Cheney are gone. A tragic waste -- a real tragedy, not what Cheney dubs a tragedy (Scooter Libby's 30 month sentence that will be appealed and, if all else fails, pardoned).

The next threshold in battle deaths would be a mass conscription escalation -- all the "first tier" American wars had a draft component. This is a Boer War-type conflict, but it could even get worse (ex. spillover with Iran, miscalculation, etc.)

Beth said...

G*d damn, those numbers make me mad.

Bubs said...

You're g*ddamn right there's a connection.

Great post. Maddening numbers Johnny, thanks for putting them together. As the summer goes on, and the cost climbs, and we get closer to another Katrina anniversary, I'll get angrier and angrier because of stuff like this.

Chris said...

It's enough to drive you crazy! So unbelievably stupid.

Johnny Yen said...

Barbara-
It must be nice to live in a country that has a sane military policy-- that you don't have to take over the world to be safe.

Skyler's Dad-
That pisses me off to no end.

What kills me is that the Congress, Executive and Supreme Court all get lifetime medical care, even after they're out of office, and yet they deny adequete medical care to so many through their policies and votes.

Deadspot-
Even educated rich people have a tendency not to support Republicans. An ignorant electorate is a conservative's best friend. It reminds me of your "cargo cult" idea.

Erik-
That gives me an idea for a post; I wonder about the accounting of the war. In their book "Heavy Losses", James Choates and Michael Killian pointed out that the military hid losses of helicopters in Vietnam by simply not counting them as lost!. They would rebuild them from a few parts, then not count them as a loss. I'm curious if in accounting for the cost of the war, if they're playing more games-- it might be even more expensive than we think.

Boer War-- very good analogy.

Because of improved medical care, people are surviving horrific wounds, and as you pointed out, will require a lifetime of care.

Beth-
You and me both. When do John and Jane Public start getting it?

Bubs-
The appalling waste of this administration-- of lives, of oppurtunities, of the huge surplus we had when they entered office-- as I've said many times, Nixon, Polk and Harding are somewhere smiling, because there's now been a President far worse than them.

Chris-
You said it!