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Eleven Million Dollars
August 26, 2010 2:54 PM   Subscribe

How much does it cost to run a country? Somalia's Prime Minister released the government budget for 2009 (PDF) today. They had $11 million dollars to spend. That's million. With an M.
posted by DangerIsMyMiddleName (41 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
On the other hand (chicken-egg issues aside), the Prime Minister doesn't really run the country anyway.
posted by qvantamon at 2:55 PM on August 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Once again, Libertarian paradise. All you repressed John Galts now know where you can go and enjoy the fruits of your genius.
posted by GuyZero at 2:57 PM on August 26, 2010 [51 favorites]


Of course, there are other ways that the government is getting help -- ways that won't show up on a budget like this

If anybody in the Somalian Government is worth anything to anybody, their annual bribery income should be 10 to 100 times their official pay.
posted by oneswellfoop at 3:03 PM on August 26, 2010


I'm pretty sure you can balance the budget with only one pirated ship.
posted by found missing at 3:07 PM on August 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


Somalia is just barely a country, I'd say the million bucks doesn't matter one way or the other in this respect.
posted by edgeways at 3:12 PM on August 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Considering the government controls about a square mile of real estate in Mogadishu, $11m doesn't sound so cheap...
posted by PenDevil at 3:16 PM on August 26, 2010


Nations of Wal-Mart?
posted by Joe Beese at 3:19 PM on August 26, 2010


On the other hand (chicken-egg issues aside), the Prime Minister doesn't really run the country anyway.

I heard an NPR story recently in which a journalist on the ground in Somalia suggested that the government actually controls no more than a few block radius in Mogadishu. And none of the rest of the country. So that 11-million-dollar budget sounds about right.
posted by dersins at 3:26 PM on August 26, 2010


Country size: 637,657 km2 (246,200 sq mi), compared to Texas: 696,241 km2 (268,820 sq mi), which had a 2008-2009 appropriated budget of $167,787,202,202. And from the article:
for context -- Somalia's $11 million budget is ....

- 20 times smaller than the 2010 budget of Topeka, Kansas

- A mere 1/2 of Derek Jeter's 2010 salary

- 890 times smaller than Starbucks' 2009 annual revenue

- About equal to the budget of "High School Musical 3"

- About equal to the amount that the Scottsdale, Arizona school district had to cut from its budget this year.
This would be amusing, and sad, as an infographic.
posted by filthy light thief at 3:32 PM on August 26, 2010 [6 favorites]


Wow, their very own Green Zone.
posted by Pope Guilty at 3:32 PM on August 26, 2010


I think this is what those who advocate "bomb [fill in racial slur] back to the stone age" folks have in mind, isn't it? Mission accomplished!
posted by maxwelton at 3:40 PM on August 26, 2010


If you look closely at the banknotes depicted in the photo in the FP article, you'll notice that along the top they read "BAANKA SOMALILAND." All of the currency shown is used exclusively in Somaliland, an autonomously-governed, pseudo-independent region of northern Somalia. I can't say for sure, but to me eye, that photo looks like it was taken in the main market of Somaliland's capital city of Hargeisa.

While I'm not entirely surprised, it's still somehow disappointing that even an outlet like Foreign Policy can't bother to either source an accurate photo of moneylenders in Mogadishu, or at least caption the photo accurately.

In the conttext of the linked article, I find it very interesting that the Somaliland government recently approved a $61 million budget for 2010. That's over five times the size of the Somali national budget, and it has been accomplished without formal diplomatic recognition by any foreign state or international organization.

Somaliland distinguishes itself by being the only country in the Horn of Africa to successfully execute a peaceful transfer of power following a democratic election. When you speak to self-identified Somalilanders, whether in Somaliland or abroad, they will immediately tell you how frustrating it is that their country has worked so hard to become the Horn's only success story, whilst their dysfunctional neighbor to the south gets all the attention and aid money.

The recent elections were an opportunity for Somaliland to show off it's relative stability to an international audience, but formal recognition, despite persistant rumors, remains elusive.
posted by aliquidnovi at 3:59 PM on August 26, 2010 [21 favorites]


aliquidnovi, the Economist had a short article about Somaliland last month which made me think, "hey, Somaliland would be a pretty good FFP!" I deal with Somalis all the time at work and never know about Somaliland.
posted by vespabelle at 4:11 PM on August 26, 2010


They should switch to the Zimbabwe dollar, then their budget of
posted by Devils Rancher at 4:20 PM on August 26, 2010


for context -- Somalia's $11 million budget is ....

About one two weeks of Blizzard/Activision's revenues from World of Warcraft.
posted by The Bellman at 4:20 PM on August 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


goddamit I did not hit the return key --
ONE HUNDRED TRILLION DOLLARS!
posted by Devils Rancher at 4:21 PM on August 26, 2010


one. Sorry.
posted by The Bellman at 4:21 PM on August 26, 2010


Wow. Richmond, Indiana (population 22,000 and falling) has an annual budget of about 28 million.
posted by Michael Roberts at 4:38 PM on August 26, 2010


All you repressed John Galts now know where you can go and enjoy the fruits of your genius.

If anybody in the Somalian Government is worth anything to anybody, their annual bribery income should be 10 to 100 times their official pay.

In Atlas Shrugged, there's a short paragraph explaining how the Every(uber)man protagonist Hank Rearden manages to run his business in a post-collapse America. It's very quick, very sympathetic, and very glossed but it sums up Ayn Rand's solution in two simple ideas: bribes and the black market.

Not to derail the thread or anything but I can never resist a jab at free-market objectivisim.
posted by clarknova at 4:41 PM on August 26, 2010 [5 favorites]


I've been reading a mystery series set in Laos in the 70s, immediately after the Pathet Lao took over, and the lack of money they had to run the country is staggering. This is never really the focus of the books, but more little bits thrown out for local color, but at one point there's a debate over whether they should get a stoplight, because, you know, what self-respecting country doesn't even have a traffic light. But they don't really need it and they can't really afford it.
posted by OmieWise at 4:50 PM on August 26, 2010


They should switch to the Zimbabwe dollar, then their budget of something something ONE HUNDRED TRILLION DOLLARS!

The Zimbabqean dollar is no more. In 1980, the Zimbabwean dollar was worth more than the U.S. dollar, with ZWD 1 = USD 1.47, but the currency was redenominated THREE TIMES. The dollar was redenominated on 1 August 2006 at the rate of 1 revalued dollar = 1000 old dollars. Then, effective August 1, 2008, ZW$10 billion would be worth ZW$1. Less than a year later, (on February 2, 2009), the RBZ announced that a further 12 zeros were to be taken off the currency, with 1,000,000,000,000 (third) Zimbabwe dollars being exchanged for 1 new (fourth) dollar. On April 12, 2009, the Zimbabwean dollar was dead. The currency of other nations is used, even courting China and looking to include the Yuan in the "basket of currencies" now used in Zimbabwe.
posted by filthy light thief at 5:09 PM on August 26, 2010


That doesn't include the cost of the African Union troops, who seem to be what's keeping the transitional federal government alive.
posted by lullaby at 5:13 PM on August 26, 2010


Domestic "loans" is nice.
posted by IndigoJones at 5:19 PM on August 26, 2010


Once again, Libertarian paradise.

Libertarians would say the role of government is security and defense, and Somalia is somewhat of a failed state.
posted by stbalbach at 5:49 PM on August 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Libertarians would say the role of government is security and defense, and Somalia is somewhat of a failed state.

Boring Libertarians maybe. Forward-thinking people see the possibilities for for innovation in the national governance sector in Somalia. Entrepreneurship & Libertarianism seems like pretty congruent concepts.
posted by GuyZero at 5:57 PM on August 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


How much is that in simoleons?
posted by found missing at 6:02 PM on August 26, 2010


...they will immediately tell you how frustrating it is that their country has worked so hard to become the Horn's only success story, whilst their dysfunctional neighbor to the south gets all the attention and aid money...

Is it possible that some sort of cause/effect is working here?
posted by Confess, Fletch at 6:06 PM on August 26, 2010


Boring Libertarians maybe.

Isn't that the point?

Forward-thinking people..

Those are neo-cons.
posted by stbalbach at 6:13 PM on August 26, 2010


Although there may be some over lap, in general, libertarians != anarchists.
posted by gyc at 6:20 PM on August 26, 2010


Once again, Libertarian paradise. All you repressed John Galts now know where you can go and enjoy the fruits of your genius.

That's anarchist paradise. Libertarians want centralized control of violence; that should be in the hands of the government, and it should be constrained to the least possible use required to maintain the government monopoly.

Remember, Libertarianism is very anti-theft, and to have strong property laws, you have to have a government capable of enforcing them.

Somalia is just a bunch of warring tribes. Not the same thing at all.
posted by Malor at 6:25 PM on August 26, 2010 [3 favorites]


They had $11 million dollars to spend. That's million. With an M.

Pet peeve of mine - when TV and radio news people put undue stress on million or billion, like the mere mention of those words is just so crazy and radical that you wouldn't ordinarily believe you heard it unless they put this crazy emphasis on the m or the b.
posted by Mid at 6:39 PM on August 26, 2010


In fairness, it's likely that they're doing that in order to differentiate between the two.
posted by dersins at 6:49 PM on August 26, 2010


Somalia is just a bunch of warring tribes. Not the same thing at all.

Except that some libertarians actually do assert it is.
posted by StrikeTheViol at 7:19 PM on August 26, 2010


In fairness, it's likely that they're doing that in order to differentiate between the two.

I think that might explain some of it, but many times it is clear from context that it could only be one or the other, but you get the crazy emphasis anyway. This is especially true with "million." For example, a TV story about a guy who won $5 million in a lawsuit - I guarantee the announcer will hit the "m" in "million" harder than any other letter in the sentence -- why? Because someone might think the guy won $5 billion in a lawsuit?
posted by Mid at 7:37 PM on August 26, 2010


All you repressed John Galts now know where you can go and enjoy the fruits of your genius.

Somalia is just a bunch of warring tribes. Not the same thing at all.


The difference is only a matter of time.
posted by Herodios at 8:01 PM on August 26, 2010


I was just reading a recent National Geographic (September 09) which had an article on Somalia. One striking picture was of a traffic policeman, who directs traffic for tips.
posted by wilful at 9:29 PM on August 26, 2010


That's anarchist paradise.

No, that's statist strawman of anarchist paradise.

Strawmanarchism?
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:23 PM on August 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Somalia is a worst case scenario for anarchism, as North Korea is for statism.
posted by phrontist at 12:38 AM on August 27, 2010


There is nothing anarchist about Somalia.
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:27 AM on August 27, 2010


Apparently, bribing government officials is now in my price range.
posted by malusmoriendumest at 4:18 AM on August 27, 2010


Apparently, bribing government officials is now in my price range.

But about the only thing you can get for your bribe is "safe" passage 30 yards down the street.
posted by Babblesort at 8:34 AM on August 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


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