Friday, September 26, 2008

How Much is $700 Billion Really Worth?

The dollar amount of Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson’s government bailout plan has been hammered into all our brains by now: 700 billion. But lest we lose sight of how much that actually is, Vanity Fair compiled a list of other things the lump sum could have been spent on.

Things that would be useful:
-Preventing 200 million foreclosures
-Paying back our debt to Japan, with enough left over for Luxembourg or Russia
-Paying the equivalent of 10 years of total international humanitarian aid at current levels, per Jeff Sachs's estimate
-Tripling the income of the billion people in the world who are living on $1/day or less
-Providing bi-weekly $100 psychotherapy sessions for every American for a year

Things that would be a wee bit Socialist:
-Paying for Social Security for next 40 years
-Providing healthcare for all Americans
-Buying Apple, Google, Microsoft and Berkshire Hathaway

Things that would be awesome:
-Throwing 100,000 lavish Las Vegas birthday parties with appearances by the Rolling Stones
-Buying Iraq and Afghanistan, with enough left over for Sweden (or 13 Iraqs, or 90 Afghanistans), measuring by G.D.P.
-Remaking The Dark Knight 3,800 times
-Buying 10,000 pounds of LSD, the most expensive thing in the world, per pound

Things that would arguably be a waste of money:
-Paying for enough ads for the next 4,000 Super Bowls (with ads at $3 million)
-Buying 10 iPhones for every American (with iPhones at $200)
-Fighting for another 5 years in Iraq and Afghanistan at current costs
-Buying every Mega Millions ticket at current circulation for next 180 years
-Shipping five roses to everybody on the planet
-Buying the publishing and music industries wholesale
-Remaking Titanic 3,500 times

Things that may come in handy when society collapses:
-Supplying at least two AK-47’s per person, including children (at about $1,000 a pop on the black market)
-Feeding every American on a Campbell’s soup diet for 2 years (at $1.29 a can)
-Buying 10 high-end tents for every American
-Providing a Tata—the miraculous, $2,500 Indian minicar—for every American of driving age

Things that would quite possibly suck the Earth into black holes:
-10 Large Hadron Colliders

(courtesy of Vanity Fair)