Skip

$3 Trillion Shopping Spree
May 10, 2008 12:40 PM   Subscribe

The $3 Trillion Shopping Spree. "The occupation of Iraq will cost $3 trillion, America's most expensive conflict since WWII. Can YOU spend that money better? Here's your chance to go on a virtual $3 trillion shopping spree and prove it!" [Via Gristmill.]
posted by homunculus (66 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
don't tell that to niall ferguson.
posted by kliuless at 12:49 PM on May 10, 2008


With that much money, I could outbid Carl Icahn for Circuit City.
posted by Smart Dalek at 12:49 PM on May 10, 2008


Brewster's Trillions.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:12 PM on May 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


That's a lot sock not used for puppets.
posted by srboisvert at 1:14 PM on May 10, 2008


I'd rather have $3 trillion than Circuit City.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 1:16 PM on May 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


I could buy 90 MetaFilter accounts for every single person on the planet.
posted by oaf at 1:22 PM on May 10, 2008 [5 favorites]


Or a $450 rebate cheque...everyone loves those, right?
posted by ilana at 1:26 PM on May 10, 2008 [4 favorites]


Think of a better way of spending three trillion dollars than enabling Mr. and Mrs. Upper Middle Class to drive an SUV five years longer than they would be able to afford otherwise? Hmm...

How about we forcibly confiscate, crush and reimbuse at KBB value every private vehicle that gets less than 35mpg? Then double the fleets of every mass transit system in the country, and make transit fare 25cents instead of $2.50? I figure we'll have about 2.6 trillion left over, plus not need to import any mild steel from China for about a decade.
posted by seanmpuckett at 1:27 PM on May 10, 2008 [4 favorites]


That Ferguson video is hilarious. John McCain would be the right age considering this metric that I just made up and have no justification for. Over the past 100 years the median age has shot up for a variety of reasons, but one of them is not a significant improvement in maximum lifespan. I also like the damning-with-faint praise approach: John McCain will be just a little younger than Reagan at his second term. By the end of Reagan's second term his senility was the only justification for why he shouldn't be impeached. Also, motivating first-time and youth voters is irrelevant because of demographics in 2050. Brilliant.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 1:28 PM on May 10, 2008


From the main link:
Cure a Deadly Disease

Price: $1,500,000.00

Bullshit. Add four zeros.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 1:30 PM on May 10, 2008


Fun, thanks!
posted by salvia at 1:35 PM on May 10, 2008


I'd build a time machine and reclaim the last 7 years for a do-over.
posted by ericb at 1:37 PM on May 10, 2008


3,000,000,000,000 dollars. That's a lot of zeros.

3 trillion equals 10 fully funded years of welfare/unemployment, and then some. Not that I'm arguing that welfare or unemployment need to be less or more, but that's the kind of money we're talking about, 300 billion a year for 10 years.

We spend maybe a few billion a year on alternative energy research. What is that, in terms of 3 trillion? About a thousand years of alternative energy research at current spending levels?

Imagine what might happen if we spent a trillion a year on solar and alternative energy for three years? It would be an outright revolution.

Imagine 500 billion a year towards education for six years. Imagine giving a $300 laptop like the OLPC or EEE away to every child in the US. Now imagine giving one to almost everyone in the US, let's say 300 million people. That's about 90 billion dollars. You have 2 trillion, 910 billion left to spend.

The "economic stimulish" package is in that scale. 100 billion or so? Chump change in the face of this.

3 trillion doesn't count the continued costs of war. It doesn't count the very real financial and social costs of returning soldiers suffering from PTSD, or the real damage done to our social fabric, and the larger social fabric of the world around us.

It also doesn't count the real financial and social losses of the Afghan and Iraqi people, which, well, what price do you place on having your entire infrastructure blown up? What about a child?

3 trillion dollars doesn't even begin to account for this mess. If this isn't the biggest example of blind hubris - it's an outright crime against humanity itself.
posted by loquacious at 1:37 PM on May 10, 2008 [23 favorites]


and we've only pledged to provide $3.25 million in aid to Burma, a place where some degree of immediate, unilateral intervention might actually be a good idea.
posted by ornate insect at 1:41 PM on May 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


with 3 trillion dollars i could buy the cubs the world series
posted by pyramid termite at 1:42 PM on May 10, 2008


I'd replace all the public and private transit systems in the US and replace them with water slides. Water slides for everybody!
posted by hellojed at 1:46 PM on May 10, 2008 [5 favorites]


The correct answer is: You buy a mansion, retire and write your vice-presidential memoirs.
posted by PlusDistance at 1:51 PM on May 10, 2008


I'll take one of these and one of these, please. Do you do gift wrapping?
posted by zippy at 1:53 PM on May 10, 2008


Cookies! "With $3 trillion, you could buy 1365 of these for every person on earth!" (I'm going shopping in a little bit. What's your favorite...?)
posted by Kronos_to_Earth at 1:55 PM on May 10, 2008


No. Too depressing to think about what we could have done with that dough.
posted by ikahime at 2:06 PM on May 10, 2008


This site is a bit too clever for its own good.

The $3 Trillion dollar number has been doing the rounds in media I've been listening and reading for a while. One can only assume that with the lack of people on the streets protesting or compelling the U.S. government to stop the haemorrhage, probably because people are too busy building pointless websites or playing with them -- that nobody cares enough about the idea of maxing out America's credit with a lot of blood mixed in.

So go ahead, keep clicking on those links and playing silly fucking games.
posted by gsb at 2:15 PM on May 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


$3 trillion / 300 million people in the US = $10,000 for each person in the US.

There's three people in my family; that's $30,000.

I'm driving a 16-year-old Honda. I'd take a cut to my taxes, buy a new Honda, give some to charity, and put the rest in an S&P 500 index fund.

And Iraq would still be a relatively stable dictatorship.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 2:19 PM on May 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


gsb, if this website causes anyone to reconsider voting for More of the Same in November, then it's doing God's work.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 2:21 PM on May 10, 2008


with 3 trillion dollars i could buy the cubs the world series

Nah, they'd still find a way to blow it.
posted by languagehat at 2:28 PM on May 10, 2008 [3 favorites]


$100,000,000 seems a little low to "revamp the educational system," and I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have wanted Bush et. al. touching that more than they already did.
Still, though, buying every family on earth a nice t.v. and a wii would probably end any need for wars in the future, though. That's be my investment.
posted by Navelgazer at 2:39 PM on May 10, 2008


It would be more effective if they used oh, I don't know, say numbers that actually approximated anything?

Some of the most glaring examples:

Legalize weed for $1mil.
Impeach Bush and Cheney $1mil.
Free, Unbiased media $1.5mil.

A five year old knows that you can't put dollar values on those things. It's stupid.
posted by zekinskia at 2:46 PM on May 10, 2008


I think in the free, unbiased media one, you actually funded your own set of independent reporters. How many salaries could you pay on $1.5m? Hmm, the annual budget of KPFA (Berkeley Free Speech Radio) is $4.8 million, so maybe $1.5m is a little low.
posted by salvia at 2:50 PM on May 10, 2008


Yep, comparing Hillary Clinton to Glenn Close's homocidal hysteric (twice!) is real classy there, Mr Ferguson. Sexism is dead indeed.
posted by Weebot at 2:52 PM on May 10, 2008


I'll tell you what I'd do, man: Two chicks at the same time, man.

I always wanted to do that, man. And I think if I had 3 trillion dollars, I could hook that up. 'Cause chicks dig a dude with money.
posted by cyclopticgaze at 3:00 PM on May 10, 2008 [7 favorites]


"It would be more effective if they used oh, I don't know, say numbers that actually approximated anything?"

That's the flaw of this thing: It allows any subliterate clown to garbage up the database with silly "products," crappy grammar and bogus values and all. I think the message -- the sheer enormity of a few trillion bucks -- would get across more clearly if the user-defined products were culled. As it stands now, the thing looks like a product database version of YouTube comments.
posted by majick at 3:08 PM on May 10, 2008


cycloptigaze: not all chicks.
posted by Navelgazer at 3:17 PM on May 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


Let's flip that around - there are around 130 million US taxpayers. If we divvy up three trillion in debt among them, that'd mean each and every taxpayer will be forking over an extra $23 grand before this gets paid off. I don't know about you, but if an invoice for $23 grand to the IRS showed up in the mail tomorrow, I'd be a little stretched to come up with the dough. Hell, if my taxes just rise by $1,000/year for the next 23 years, that'll be pretty damned uncomfortable. What an ultimate scam. These guys have managed to do more financial damage than the average credit-card thief, but to every taxpayer in the US. And they got away with it.
posted by gregor-e at 3:22 PM on May 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children.

The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities. It is two electric power plants, each serving a town of 60,000 population. It is two fine, fully equipped hospitals. It is some fifty miles of concrete pavement.

We pay for a single fighter plane with a half million bushels of wheat. We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed more than 8,000 people. This is, I repeat, the best way of life to be found on the road the world has been taking. This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.

These plain and cruel truths define the peril and point the hope that come with this spring of 1953. This is one of those times in the affairs of nations when the gravest choices must be made, if there is to be a turning toward a just and lasting peace.

It is a moment that calls upon the governments of the world to speak their intentions with simplicity and with honesty. It calls upon them to answer the questions that stirs the hearts of all sane men: is there no other way the world may live? "

Dwight D. Eisenhower, Chance For Peace Address, April 16, 1953
posted by sicem07 at 3:31 PM on May 10, 2008 [39 favorites]


"Added Hannah Montana Anti-static Pink Hair Brush to your cart."
posted by Flunkie at 3:44 PM on May 10, 2008


and we've only pledged to provide $3.25 million in aid to Burma, a place where some degree of immediate, unilateral intervention might actually be a good idea.

You just reminded me of a Time magazine article I read a few years back that wrote of Burmese people getting excited about the Iraq invasion. They'd actually believed the US government was genuinely interested in freeing oppressed countries, and thought that Burma would soon follow.
posted by kisch mokusch at 3:48 PM on May 10, 2008 [2 favorites]


Legalize weed for $1mil.
Impeach Bush and Cheney $1mil.
Free, Unbiased media $1.5mil.


Fantasizing about how to re-allocate $3 trilion: priceless.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 3:55 PM on May 10, 2008


eh, trillion
posted by ZenMasterThis at 3:55 PM on May 10, 2008


Since this is a stupid made up website linking to someone's axe-grindy (though I'm sympathetic to the cause) films website, I'm just gonna take the money and run.

It should be enough to buy myself an island, stocked with women, drugs, and probably some sort of really cool racetrack for all of my sportscars.

Oh wait, they thought of that one too.
posted by ninjew at 4:03 PM on May 10, 2008


with 3 trillion dollars i could buy the cubs the world series Nah, they'd still find a way to blow it.

Ah, and to think just a short while ago that's what we New England/Boston fans would say about our home teams. Go Celtics!
posted by ericb at 4:03 PM on May 10, 2008


While I agree that $3 trillion is an unimaginable amount of money, I'm not sure that I really agree that the current war is the most costly since World War II. To call this conflict 'the most expensive' seems to ignore the far greater loss of American lives in past conflicts, a price that I consider far more significant than any amount of currency.

As of today, the Iraq war has cost 4,073 American lives; Vietnam 58,151; Korea 36,516.
posted by Kadin2048 at 4:14 PM on May 10, 2008


I think this is a double post. I'm having raging deja vu.
posted by mecran01 at 4:20 PM on May 10, 2008


cyclopticgaze I watched that film yesterday. $3 trillion dollar? I'd make everything a spooky coincidence.
posted by Samuel Farrow at 4:21 PM on May 10, 2008


Silly as some of these things may seem, it does provide a good jumping off point for conversation on what national spending priorities really should be.

If you click through on any of the Amazon products and decide to buy them, some part of the purchase goes to support the $3 Trillion Shopping Spree site, so be aware of that if you get tempted and would prefer not to be part of it. Or if you would like to be part of it and couldn't think of any other reason to go ahead and buy the book that might help you understand Cheney a little better.

Have you seen Oreos yet?

I think some of you might be interested in some of the supporting organisations behind the "game":
TrueMajority
Brave New Films
USAction
(Sourcewatch)

With my $3Tn, even knowing that some of these amounts aren't realistic, I exercised my idealism by having more fun than the Sears Wishbook ever gave me (and I was a fan, believe me).

Constant negativity is so exhausting and pointless. Better to combine a little fun with one's politics.
posted by batmonkey at 4:29 PM on May 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


I like this shop, kinda wish it was real. Cause seriously, this is a great deal. $0? Why yes, I'd pay that.
posted by agress at 4:51 PM on May 10, 2008


To call this conflict 'the most expensive' seems to ignore the far greater loss of American lives in past conflicts, a price that I consider far more significant than any amount of currency.

As of today, the Iraq war has cost 4,073 American lives; Vietnam 58,151; Korea 36,516.
posted by Kadin2048


Because only American lives are worth money?

Not trying to be overly snarky, I get your point -- this "war" has a lower death toll than most others, but just mentioning the cost to the US of American lives ignores a lot of dead bodies.
posted by Saxon Kane at 5:01 PM on May 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


sicem07 -- I love that speech. Though I have to admit that every time I read this:

The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities. It is two electric power plants, each serving a town of 60,000 population. It is two fine, fully equipped hospitals. It is some fifty miles of concrete pavement.

the first thought that comes to mind is, damn I had no idea that pavement was so expensive.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 5:13 PM on May 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


Can YOU spend that money better?

Fuck, that money would be better spent if you bought every man woman and child in the world a big bag of weed and five boxes of ho-hos.
posted by nanojath at 5:31 PM on May 10, 2008 [3 favorites]


Dwight D. Eisenhower

Is he some kind of communterrorist-loving peacenik?
posted by oaf at 5:58 PM on May 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


With $3 trillion, you could buy this for every person on earth!

Don't you see the implications? A Wii for the World! A world of universal Nintendo is a world of peace.
posted by Serial Killer Slumber Party at 6:11 PM on May 10, 2008


Hire a Clean Prostitute for Life          Price:$1,000,000

That's for a clean prostitute with a fatal disease though, right? 'Cuz if you're hiring one prostitute for life I'm thinkin' her upkeep would probably add up over a few decades. Plus, then in your old age you'd still be stuck with the now-geriatric prostitute you still own. When you look at the big picture, a wife seems a better deal 'cuz although you have to pay for her too at least she'd help with chores & junk. But whatever. Just thinkin' out loud, really.


Non-Violent Leadership Training (1 yr) for 10 Million Leaders          Price: $300,000.00

Huh. Apparently leadership training costs way less than Photoshop seminars. Who knew?
posted by miss lynnster at 7:59 PM on May 10, 2008 [2 favorites]


America's most expensive conflict since WWII

This is wrong since the money is not inflation adjusted. A better measurement would be percent of GDP. If measured in percent of GDP then the war would actually be cheap compared to the previous ones, at least in a monetary sense.
posted by yoyo_nyc at 8:01 PM on May 10, 2008


Everybody gets ponies!

(AppaloOsa)
posted by miss lynnster at 8:10 PM on May 10, 2008


I'd buy a Battlestar!
posted by turgid dahlia at 8:14 PM on May 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


cycloptigaze: not all chicks.

cycloptigaze: enough chicks.
posted by Turtles all the way down at 8:14 PM on May 10, 2008


Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children.

Wow. Obviously some kind of pinko-Marxist must have said that.

I don't know about you, but if an invoice for $23 grand to the IRS showed up in the mail tomorrow, I'd be a little stretched to come up with the dough. Hell, if my taxes just rise by $1,000/year for the next 23 years, that'll be pretty damned uncomfortable.

The trick here, though, is that the 3 trillion won't show up on your 1040. Someone else here on Metafilter once said that in order to fund a war, you have two choices: raise taxes or debase the currency. Bush has lowered taxes, ergo we'll pay for the war by (essentially) printing money. Thats why this 3 trillion dollars won't appear on your taxes -- it's appearing at the grocery store and at the pump instead.

Inflation is just a way to raise taxes without the terrible inconvenience of the democratic process.
posted by Avenger at 8:40 PM on May 10, 2008 [4 favorites]


Silly as some of these things may seem, it does provide a good jumping off point for conversation on what national spending priorities really should be.


On the way back from the store, I began to toy with the idea of what it would take to get trillions of cookies transported and delivered, and got a glimpse of the massive expenses that go far beyond those of the war itself.... Thank you for the Oreos link, batmonkey!!!
posted by Kronos_to_Earth at 9:04 PM on May 10, 2008


Very well done concept and site. Helped me to wrap my brain around such large numbers. And fortified my disgust with the illegal war in Iraq.
posted by rmmcclay at 12:12 AM on May 11, 2008


There's a little detail y'all are missin' here:
That 3 trillion didn't evaporate into thin air, there's a little group of people that actually does have 3 trillion to play with.
They're called ARMS DEALERS, and they're happy as a pig in shit right now.

Preemptory note to metafilter pedants: obviously this is an oversimplified version of events, and yes I know arms dealers have expenses too.

The fact remains that this expenditure isn't a mistake, it's a CRIME.

Are y'all wonderin' why Burma gets 3 million (assuming the pieces of shit who run that place ever even let the aid in) while the war in Iraq gets a MILLION TIMES more?

Do a cost analysis of the relative profit margins of high energy biscuits and helicopter gunships.

There's your answer.

Personally, if I had 3 trillion... well, I'd definitely go for the hollowed out asteroid orbiting super-villain lair. And a decent winter coat too. What else? I'd buy a ring of land around Washington DC and starve the fuckers out, medieval style. I'd hire an NSA squad to kidnap Donald Trump, tie him up, and burn a billion right in front of him, just to warp his mind. I'd buy Hawaii and rearrange the islands. I'd have cosmetic surgery on my aura. I'd buy the internet and paint it aquamarine. I'd buy a rocketship, fill it with meringue, and fire it into the sun.

See? That much money makes people do crazy things.
posted by crazylegs at 2:33 AM on May 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


I think it's a cool way to get people to think about it and talk about it. Also, many great comments here, taught me a few things. Great post!
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 2:59 AM on May 11, 2008


Crazylegs: I live in D.C. Please don't make me starve. I'm as pissed off as you are.

As for the $3 million aid to Burma, just to put that in some nice perspective, the total budget of American Pie, including marketing, was around $12 Million. Now, I won't lie, I like that movie, but I don't like it three times as much as I like preventing the death of thousands.
posted by Navelgazer at 2:04 PM on May 11, 2008


My student loan debt is accumulating so quickly, you'd think Bush was the one taking out the loans.
posted by HotPatatta at 2:21 PM on May 11, 2008


It's too bad they don't give gift receipts, so we could return all the lives Bush's taken.
posted by quiet sam at 10:14 PM on May 11, 2008


This is kinda sad when you think about it..... all that money just went to waste. We have nothing at all to show for it either. I mean seriously if we had a ton of new schools, better roads, health care, better equipped police force, alternate fuel sources, cured diseases, Etc... damn Washington really dropped the ball over and over and over again these last few years. I have lost faith in my government and it will take a miracle to get it back.
posted by Mastercheddaar at 7:36 AM on May 12, 2008


You know, this 'what could we do with 3 trillion' is a little ass-backwards. That money's spent. You've already flushed it down the hole. Now you need another 3 trillion to get back to the starting line.

Six trillion out of pocket, just to get back to where you were before you elected Bush's Boys. Twice. Nice one, America!
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 3:00 AM on May 13, 2008


Alternative boondoggles
posted by homunculus at 10:32 AM on May 27, 2008


That's a lot sock not used for puppets.
posted by srboisvert at 4:14 PM on May 10


Red Hot Chili Pepper pick-up line.
posted by Pollomacho at 10:51 AM on May 27, 2008


« Older "Rendezvous With Yesterday"   |   The Heartbreak Campaign Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post