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January 1st, 2005

Ring in the New Year

I have a lot to say. But it’s all very disorganised and I haven’t had time to really think about how to express it all. Because I’m not very good at that sort of thing. What I am very good at is 4th grade math, so let me share some numbers with you:

The UN estimates 150,000 deaths in South Asia as a result of the tsunami. Relief organisations around the world, including in the United States, have heroically raised hundreds of millions of dollars to save lives and rebuild in the areas devastated by this disaster. The U.S. Government has pledged $350,000,000. That’s about $2,333 per dead person or, more relevantly, $70 per homeless person (1).

So what? Well. The death toll in 9/11 was 3,016, if you take the DOD’s high number (2). The total amount spent on cleanup by the U.S. Government after 9/11 pursuant to the 2001 Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act for Recovery from and Response to Terrorist Attacks on the United States was $20 billion (that’s just the cleanup number) (3). Add to that the $6 billion in victims’ family compensation pursuant to the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund of 2001 (see 3) and that equates to approximately $8,620,689 per victim. If that’s not a fair comparison, you could imagine that every single victim had a family of 4 left behind (which they didn’t) and arrive at $2,155,172 per living victim in total government spending. That doesn’t mean the government gave each of those people $2 million, it means that’s the per capita spend in response to the disaster. It seems slightly higher than $70.

Still not convinced that Bush administration has mixed-up priorities? The total amount of money spent by the U.S. Government on perpetrating the Iraq War to date is approximately $148,000,000,000 (4). The total number of people dead as a result of this war, including U.S. soldiers and military personnel (5) and Iraqi civilians (6) is 16,332. The average amount spent in this war, per death, by the U.S. Government is approximately $9,061,964. It hurts just to read that number, so I’ll stop now.

Happy New Year.

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