87 billion
October 8, 2003 8:45 PM   Subscribe

Just how large is 87 billion dollars exactly? It's this large, about the size of three costco warehouses by the looks of it.
posted by mathowie (58 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
wow, all of those stacks look really unstable!
posted by mcsweetie at 8:48 PM on October 8, 2003


Haha! That's great. I can chop it (almost) in half to calculate how much money our former Finance Minister (and soon-to-be-annointed Prime Minister) took in civic funds from the EI (employment insurance) program in order to "balance the budget."

After a certain point laughter is all that's left.
posted by The God Complex at 8:53 PM on October 8, 2003


Teehee!

I read somewhere that in "Once Upon A Time In Mexico", Rodriguez's new movie, a character played by Johnny Depp tells the guy who he's paying $10,000 in an envelope: "I'm sorry: I couldn't find a briefcase small enough."
posted by MiguelCardoso at 8:57 PM on October 8, 2003


Hey, why does mathowie get to post more than once a day?

I'm telling Matt!

d'oh!
posted by mr_crash_davis at 8:58 PM on October 8, 2003


I read somewhere that in "Once Upon A Time In Mexico", Rodriguez's new movie, a character played by Johnny Depp tells the guy who he's paying $10,000 in an envelope: "I'm sorry: I couldn't find a briefcase small enough."

Actually, he gives it to him in a kid's metal lunchbox.
posted by rushmc at 8:59 PM on October 8, 2003


Money fight!
posted by squirrel at 9:09 PM on October 8, 2003


you know, as obscene an amount of cash as that is, and as pissed as I am at the neocon team for getting us into this mess, if Iraq really needs the money then they oughta get it.
posted by mcsweetie at 9:10 PM on October 8, 2003


Hey mcsweetie, I really need the money. No, seriously, I'm one of the "professional" politicians trying to respond to the pleas and demands of angry parents who want more money for schools, to the cries and lamentations of the elderly who need more affordable housing and health care, and to the angry outbursts of everyone else who wants their trash picked up, their roads plowed (and passable) and for the water to come on when they turn on the tap.

That 87 billion wouldn't quite cover everything (especially not in all 50 states), but it would go a long way towards it.

I'll save the rant against unfunded mandates (on most, if not all of the above) for another day.
posted by yhbc at 9:17 PM on October 8, 2003


So how much space would the 600 radios that cost $6000 a piece take up?
posted by homunculus at 9:19 PM on October 8, 2003


What Can $87 Billion Buy?
posted by homunculus at 9:21 PM on October 8, 2003


For what it's worth, I officially retract my comment where I said Matt's front page posts have been shitty lately, and offer my sincere apologies.
posted by crunchland at 9:21 PM on October 8, 2003


Awwww, 87 Billion is only enough to give about $300 to every single American.
posted by ilsa at 9:23 PM on October 8, 2003


I feel you, yhbc. I'm just saying that it would be super duper unethical to blow up their country and not pay to fix it.
posted by mcsweetie at 9:28 PM on October 8, 2003


(they could always let the U.N. do it and get their pet companies out of there)
posted by The God Complex at 9:35 PM on October 8, 2003


One-Hundred-Sixty-Six Billion dollars ... this equals the total amount of money President Bush wants to spend in Iraq & Afghanistan by the beginning of October, 2004 : the $87 billion he wants, plus the $79 billion he's already spent.

$166 billion is $568 for every man, woman and child in the United States.


The sketches of humongous piles of money are neat and all, but relevant number is my $568 share. Which doesn't sound all that bad to me for evicting the Taliban, routing Al Quaeda, and freeing Iraq. OK, I know I'll also be covering some fellow Americans who are a bit short -- but I'll work some overtime, maybe put off that new sofa I wanted...

yhbc, I do feel for you and your constituents, but I'm thinking more of the suffering of victims of terrorism and of people struggling for basic human rights.

And mcsweetie, don't you think that even if Saddam had slunk off into exile before bombs were dropped we'd still have to make some massive investments to bring Iraq out of the mess he got it in?
posted by Tubes at 9:36 PM on October 8, 2003


yhbc, it has usually been the case that satellite states have a higher standard of living than the home of the "empire." This was true as of recently as the old Soviet Republic.

Sure Iraq has to be rebuilt, but lets look at some of this spending. They're looking at implementing universal healthcare while seniors work at Hardee's to pay for medicine? The contracts are outrageously priced because of the lack of competition.

Iraq will be rebuilt somehow, but the least the Bush administration could be doing is opening up these contracts to international and *gasp* Iraqi companies/experts. It must truly be depressing to be an Iraqi engineer with experience rebuilding Iraq after the previous war watching Halliburton et al ask for 10x the going rate to fix a bridge.

As a side note, I love these pictures. I had a science teacher in high school ask the class if we could imagine 1,000 of anything. Do we even own 1,000 similiar items? We can name 1,000 people we've met? Now try to picture 10,000 things. 100,000 or a million. At a certain point these numbers become very abstract and it makes me think twice before haphazardly tossing them around.

Hopefully the 'throw these bums out' attitude we just witnessed in California will carry over onto the national stage in 2004.
posted by skallas at 9:56 PM on October 8, 2003


"....evicting the Taliban, routing Al Quaeda, and freeing Iraq"

Well the third item here is open for debate. The first two.....ummm....well OK, if by 'evict' you mean "displace into Pakistan for a little while - until they can regroup and begin to launch counterattacks" and if "rout" equals "create a situation favourable to terrorism (Iraq) in which porous borders allow a sizeable influx of Al Quaeda sympathizers and recruits to infiltrate and launch attacks against Americans.

Anyway, 87 billion US dollars is also equivalent to a stack of 100 dollar bills 87 kilometers high.
posted by troutfishing at 11:22 PM on October 8, 2003


It was my understanding that about 80% of the contracts being outsourced to companies like Haliburton and such were being subcontracted to Iraqis. Of course, you would have to subscibe to the Economist to get those numbers and that means paying for content but ... who knows?
posted by billman at 11:25 PM on October 8, 2003




I wonder how long it took to stack all the $1 bills up so they could measure them?
posted by dg at 11:47 PM on October 8, 2003


Or for another plan, if we diverted that money and split it amongst ourselves, it would be $5,069,634.64 for each and every boy and girl on MeFi. That's a lot of pancakes.
posted by madamjujujive at 12:06 AM on October 9, 2003




I like the way you think, juju.
posted by crunchland at 5:20 AM on October 9, 2003


I do feel for you and your constituents, but I'm thinking more of the suffering of victims of terrorism and of people struggling for basic human rights.

Glad you understand. Iraq has been the victim of unwarranted aggression and as a result their infrastructure is ruined. They are also currently under occupation by the same foreign aggressor and are suffering under the stern rule of their military and the appointed viceroy with his minions. All for the purpose of enriching large multinational corporations so far as anyone can reasonable discern.

We should not have committed these acts of terrorism against the Iraqi peoples and should immediately withdraw while pleading with the UN to take control and on bended knee apologizing.

Bush got his war in Iraq and now we must pay the bill for him. The lives lost are a greater thing still than the treasure lost. Thanks Florida! Thanks Extreme Court!
posted by nofundy at 5:29 AM on October 9, 2003


And mcsweetie, don't you think that even if Saddam had slunk off into exile before bombs were dropped we'd still have to make some massive investments to bring Iraq out of the mess he got it in?

I dunno about "massive," but there would have certainly been some expense.

although that 48 hour ultimatum stuff was the most ridiculous cowboy shit ever. yew got tew sundowns to get yer yella hide outta my sandbox. git, you varmint hoch ptew DING!
posted by mcsweetie at 5:46 AM on October 9, 2003


87 billion dollars is nothing in the grand scheme of things. The United States' GDP is 10.4 trillion. Correct me if I'm wrong, but that's less that 1% of our spending power.

Just imagine if we really wanted to do something.
posted by pedantic at 6:44 AM on October 9, 2003


87 billion dollars is nothing in the grand scheme of things.

homunculus's link, in case you missed it.
posted by mcsweetie at 6:48 AM on October 9, 2003


"Correct me if I'm wrong, but that's less that 1% of our spending power."

You are wrong.

The government's spending power is derived from it's income, that is, taxes. Not GDP. The only way this number would relate to our GDP is if Bush went around to individuals and businesses and asked them to each to toss some extra money in the hat for his rebuilding scheme.

In addition, the government has already spent all of the money it has. It's now borrowing money at a rate that may soon cause the source of those loans to dry up. In effect Bush is bankrupting the US to rebuild some other country. A country I might add that has huge oil reserves.

So this $87 billion is a gift of something we don't have to the Iraqi people at a time when our economy is stagnant. Our schools can't buy books. But we'll be borrowing money to pay for Iraq's postal system.

"Just imagine if we really wanted to do something."

Well, since we're spending money we don't have, let's not be *too* imaginative. M'kay?
posted by y6y6y6 at 7:26 AM on October 9, 2003


great link Matt

THANKS!
posted by clavdivs at 7:54 AM on October 9, 2003


I didn't miss it.

$87b Is Enough To Pay The 3.3 Million People Who Have Lost Jobs $26,363 Each

Conversely, $87 billion is $3,800 spent for each of the 22.2 million people to rebuild their country. Take out the appeal to emotion logical fallacy and one is helping rougly 7 times more people than the other.

The government's spending power is derived from it's income, that is, taxes. Not GDP.

I should have qualified that. The collective United States as in the "we" in my previous post has that purchasing power. 87 billion is a derivative of that. The government spent 2 trillion last year--87 billion marks 4% of our expenditures--if we spend the same this year.

So this $87 billion is a gift of something we don't have to the Iraqi people at a time when our economy is stagnant.

A small sacrifice, IMHO.

Our schools can't buy books. But we'll be borrowing money to pay for Iraq's postal system.

Again, appeal to emotion.
posted by pedantic at 8:13 AM on October 9, 2003


I think we'd probably all feel a lot less emotional about it if we knew that a huge chunk of that money wasn't filling the pockets of the likes of Halliburton and other Bush cronies.

I found a link to an (admittedly partisan) primer on where all that money is going, via my referrer logs. (It's a pdf file, just so you know.)
posted by crunchland at 8:29 AM on October 9, 2003


Here's the obvious solution, and I'm suprised nobody else has thought of it.

The United States needs to convert to a physically smaller $1 bill, and use thinner paper.

It's a good thing our $1 bills aren't as big as they used to be. Just think how much more money $87 billion would be if that were the case. Whew, boggles the mind.
posted by obfusciatrist at 8:37 AM on October 9, 2003




y6y6y6: Our schools can't buy books. But we'll be borrowing money to pay for Iraq's postal system.

pedantic: Again, appeal to emotion.


No, it's not an appeal to emotion. It's a statement of priorities. Just because some 'feel' strongly that kids should have textbooks rather than building phone lines for Iraqis doesn't make it an appeal to emotion.
posted by stevis at 9:22 AM on October 9, 2003


"A small sacrifice, IMHO."

Only if it has a chance of succeeding. If we spend $87 billion (and let's be honest here - it's really more like $300 billion when all is said and done) and Iraq ends up like Iran or Afghanistan, then it's $87 billion we've wasted. And I say wasted because the situation will be worse that it was to start with.

Let me be blunt - I see no reason to think Iraq won't end up just like Afghanistan. That is, an unstable country where the government is only kept in place by foreign military power, and where terrorists proliferate. In fact current events tend to make me believe Iraq will be worse given all the suicide bombing and attacks on UN entities we're seeing.

We only benefit, and thus get a return on our "small sacrifice", if Iraq becomes a stable democracy which then leads to reduced tension in the region. Do you see this happening ? I sure don't.

While we're making great progress in Iraq, it looks to be a place our troops will be dying in as long as they stay. The situation looks very similar to the security nightmare the Israelis find themselves in. Hardly stable.

In short, I'm going to have to ask you what you think we're getting in return for this "small sacrifice".

"Again, appeal to emotion."

True. Does that mean you think it's not an important issue? I'd like to hear you explain why. It seems to me that the question of whether the US could use this money is very relevant. Especially with so many concerns that much of the money is being wasted. The glib assertion that I'm making a facetious appeal to emotion seems a bit irresponsible given the context of our current fiscal reality.
posted by y6y6y6 at 9:31 AM on October 9, 2003


Tubes, if Saddam had gone into exile before the invasion, we may not have invaded. (Quel Horror! After Bush and Rummy had already gotten their little wieners hard and everything!)

Sure, a lot of money would still be required to rebuild Iraq, but we would have shared that cost with the rest of the world. Remember the rest of the world? They used to want to help us.
posted by squirrel at 9:34 AM on October 9, 2003


Conversely, $87 billion is $3,800 spent for each of the 22.2 million people to rebuild their country. Take out the appeal to emotion logical fallacy and one is helping rougly 7 times more people than the other.

you're missing the point, which is that $87 billion is a lot of money that could've done a lot of good right here in America had somebody not decided to blow up a country.
posted by mcsweetie at 9:40 AM on October 9, 2003


I can't seem to stop ...

You could buy 214,820,119 washing machines for $87 billion. (Source : Best Buy), which is enough to put 2.19 washing machines in every household in the United States. (Source : The Cavilier Daily)
posted by crunchland at 9:54 AM on October 9, 2003


To the cronies go the spoils
posted by homunculus at 10:17 AM on October 9, 2003


On Mondays, Big Macs are 99 cents each.

That means we could buy 87,878,787,878 Big Macs, or roughly 14 Big Macs for every man, woman, and child on Earth.

A stack of 87,878,787,878 Big Macs would be 4,160,927 miles high, and would contain 175,757,575,756 all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on 87,878,787,878 sesame-seed buns.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 10:20 AM on October 9, 2003


Tubes, if Saddam had gone into exile before the invasion, we may not have invaded. (Quel Horror! After Bush and Rummy had already gotten their little wieners hard and everything!)

Sorry Squirrel: Don't you believe it. Once those troops started massing, there was nothing short of invasion in the future. Now think for a moment...

If Saddam had went south, would we allow all those "WMDs" to fall into the hands of whoever his successor is? Nope.

And those "biological weapons factories?" We'd allow them to keep going full-tilt boogie under new management? Uh-uh.

And we'd leave to chance the type of government that came in to fill the power vaccum after Hussein went bye-bye? Not a chance.

You've been listening to your government too much. That's a bad habit, if you want to keep a rational head on your shoulders.
posted by Perigee at 10:51 AM on October 9, 2003


And I say wasted because the situation will be worse that it was to start with.

I couldn't agree more. Do I see the region becoming stable after the effort? Absolutely not. Even less so. In return for the "small (monetary) sacrifice" is a less harmful than leaving it in a post-war free-for-all that we created with a raft of bombs. There are three Iraqs I see. One is pre-war, the other, post-war, and the last, post-reconstruction. Whether Iraq will be better than before the war, I have my doubts. Leaving it fester would surely be a gurantee of the United States' aggression.

The glib assertion that I'm making a facetious appeal to emotion seems a bit irresponsible given the context of our current fiscal reality.

*nods*

I see the risk of bombing and leaving Iraq as a greater one than the risk more debt entails.

All told, thanks y6y6y6. You've given me some things to think about.

you're missing the point, which is that $87 billion is a lot of money that could've done a lot of good right here in America had somebody not decided to blow up a country.

Yes, America blew up a country. It is done. We'd be doing more harm from this point forward by not trying to patch part of it. I do account for what could've been, $87 billion spent on productive, not inherently desctructive acts. Sad thing is, it is just that--what could've been. Decisions, both good and bad got the United States in this position.

But even so, we need to work with it. What's the alternative? Do not spend $87 billion, pack our bags and leave? The U.S. might have been cruel the last year, but that surely is colder and even more cruel.
posted by pedantic at 1:19 PM on October 9, 2003


We'd be doing more harm from this point forward by not trying to patch part of it.

And that's the black hole of the future that no one knows, I suppose. I really think it's possible that our attitudes and unwillingness to build partnerships will alienate every Arab/Muslim country in the region ensuring that Iraq is destabilized for decades. However, I'm starting to see your argument, pedantic. That black hole is a big gamble, though.
posted by stevis at 1:55 PM on October 9, 2003


But even so, we need to work with it. What's the alternative? Do not spend $87 billion, pack our bags and leave?

I still think thats a bad alternative.
posted by mcsweetie at 2:28 PM on October 9, 2003


"I see the risk of bombing and leaving Iraq as a greater one than the risk more debt entails."

Aaaahhhhh.... Okay, I see where you're going. I misunderstood. I thought you were trying to justify the war in general. My bad.

But I still disagree.

We are spending money at an incredibly wasteful rate. If we compare the amount of money (in comparable dollars) being spent to the Marshal Plan, which used twice as many people and rebuilt all of Europe, we see that Iraq is costing more than twice as much. As another example, we are spending an *additional* $600 million to keep looking for WMDs. This is above and beyond the $800 million already spent for this search. However, the UN team spent a tenth of that in the several years of weapon inspections.

These numbers don't add up. Either we are ridiculously inefficient at everything we're doing over there, or money is being siphoned off somewhere.

I agree with you 100% that the mess needs to be cleaned, and that the responsibility for getting that done rests with the US and the British. But it seems clear to me that we're the wrong people to actually do it. The UN should be given control, all counties that said they supported the invasion should help pay the bill (including Spain and Iceland), and the Pentagon should be left with the responsibility of commanding it's own troops.

It's time for plan B. And there's no way plan B could cost as much as plan A or be more of a quagmire.

Now, back on track, $87 billion is a lot of money. Especially when lined up next to other things. Even if it's a small percentage of federal spending, there are still very few things we spend that much on. And we lose sight of that at our fiscal peril.
posted by y6y6y6 at 2:54 PM on October 9, 2003


Perigee, you have changed my mind about the liklihood of our invading a Saddam-less Iraq. (News Flash: Mind changed on MeFi).

Pedantic: Yes, America blew up a country. It is done. We'd be doing more harm from this point forward by not trying to patch part of it.

True.

I do account for what could've been, $87 billion spent on productive, not inherently desctructive acts. Sad thing is, it is just that--what could've been.

Not so. If Bush went to the UN tomorrow with his hat in his hand, a well-earned sense of humility and a plan that wasn't a greedy sham then we could split this 87 billion among several wealthy nations. While it's very true that this ain't gonna happen, we should all be asking ourselves why not.

Decisions, both good and bad got the United States in this position.

Name one good decision that got us here.
posted by squirrel at 2:59 PM on October 9, 2003


Another reason that putting the UN in charge would make sense is that they could demand that the 40 counties in the original coalition Powell put together would all have to pay a share. We don't seem willing to demand money from Spain, but I'll bet the UN would.

and that would also motivate countries to not sign up for this crazy stuff in the future.
posted by y6y6y6 at 3:10 PM on October 9, 2003


Now, back on track, $87 billion is a lot of money. Especially when lined up next to other things. Even if it's a small percentage of federal spending, there are still very few things we spend that much on. And we lose sight of that at our fiscal peril.

Agreed. You bring up good points about the UN facilitating the burden for this. The UN is great in theory, but seems to pass a resolution to resolve a resolution. Maybe the US doesn't give it enough responsibility...fiscally or otherwise.

Squirrel: Name one good decision that got us here.

I'm just covering my bases. Had I said all bad decisions, I would've been pounced on for generalizing. Er, wait, this is MeFi. Heh.
posted by pedantic at 4:04 PM on October 9, 2003


For people who think that 87 billion is just a teensy part of our federal budget, look at what DISCRETIONARY spending is (ie things that congress actually has a say in, like the military budget and so on, and not things congress has no say in like debt servicing and medicare without changing laws), and figure out the percentage from there. Add to that the additional money already spent (wasn't there a thread recently that put the price at over 200 billion so far?) and it is huge. And for what? Are we more secure? (I don't know with Iran and North Korea and their nuclear programs and half our combat troops in Iraq, not to mention the 40,000 troops or so in Korea, and the 40,000 troops or so in Japan). Is the middle east going to suddenly become the land of milk and honey because love and democracy will spread? Sorry to be a cynic, but I doubt it. I just don't see the benefit of our "investment" as it has been put earlier that we are now basically morally obligated to continue on with. I find it interesting that democrats get accused of being "tax and spend". What does that make Republicans, just "Spend"?
posted by Eekacat at 7:52 PM on October 9, 2003


The cynical side of me assumes that some of that 87 billion is siphoned off for Iranian/Syrian destabilisation purposes ā€“ after all Iraq is just the first step, to spend all that cash without being certain that the bandwagon will keep on rolling would be a waste of years of planning.
posted by niceness at 5:52 AM on October 10, 2003


Just FYI - The Fiscal Year 2004 budget request includes $782 billion for discretionary spending. So the additional $87 billion represents over 11% of our discretionary spending.
posted by y6y6y6 at 7:29 AM on October 10, 2003


according to this, the US Debt has climbed to $6 trillion, which makes the $87 billion look like peanuts.
posted by crunchland at 7:50 AM on October 10, 2003


Hey crunchland, what does $6 trillion look like?
posted by pedantic at 9:54 AM on October 10, 2003


I considered updating the page to show those piles, but decided that they might trivialize the point I was trying to make....

Though, it is true, the larger issue is that our government goes through mind-bogglingly large sums of cash.

The keen interest that my illustrations have generated indicates (at least to me) that most people really have no clue about the scale of our goverment, and exactly how much money it spends.
posted by crunchland at 10:02 AM on October 10, 2003


87,878,787,878 Big Macs.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 12:02 PM on October 10, 2003


Ok... mefi exclusive... I didn't do it for the 6 trillion, but I did do it for the $782 billion that y6y6y6 pointed out.



This represents the discretionary spending amount requested in the 2004 budget.
posted by crunchland at 1:48 PM on October 10, 2003


Hmmm
posted by clavdivs at 2:04 PM on October 10, 2003




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