Sunday, May 11, 2008

Lost Potential

One of the frustrations people have about Iraq but rarely voice is the lost potential it represents. When the US pays 10 billion every month, or 1,000,000,000 every three days, on essentially nothing, it prompts some imagination on what could have been.

Example: Haiti is the poorest country in the Americas. They have essentially no way of digging themselves out of poverty, since they've already destroyed any infrastructure or trees they have to survive in the short term. If we hadn't gone to Iraq, we could have had a Marshall plan for Haiti and other impoverished nations. Haiti has 8.7 million people. If Americans decided to feed Haiti at 1$ a person-day, it'd cost 3.175 billion dollars a year. That's a lot of money, but it's only 10 days in Iraq. Keep in mind that there are many Haitians that aren't in crushing poverty, and we find that 10 days in Iraq keeps Haiti fed for at least two years.

Let's skip a full month in Iraq. That leaves us with 6.825 billion dollars. I'm no expert on building roads, planting trees, or water sanitation, but I have a feeling that 2 billion dollars each can build a lot of roads, plant a lot of trees, and build the facilities to treat a lot of water. That leaves us with about 850,000,000 dollars for miscellaneous expenses and loans to help spur small business. If one in ten people need a loan to start a business, and half of the fund goes to loans, that means that we could lend each of them about 500$ without any hope of return. Most micro-credit loans are roughly 100 dollars or less, so this is probably more than necessary.

I'm not saying that we could have "fixed" Haiti for the price of staying in Iraq for a month. I'm saying that we could do it for the price of staying there for two months.

By the way, we've been there for more than 60 months now.

Now playing: Beethoven - Moonlight
via FoxyTunes

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