Now that Nobel prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz has calculated that the cost of the Iraq war will approach $3 TRILLION, it’s time to play with some numbers. We have already wasted $522 billion in Iraq, killing almost 4,000 American military, wounding and injuring another 60,000 (not to mention the Iraqi dead), bringing the total by year’s end to over $590 billion. But Stiglitz also factors in the multiplier effect of the price of the carnage. These include death benefits, expenses in medical care for the wounded, money squandered on war that could have been invested to stimulate the domestic economy, the staggering cost of interest on money borrowed to carry out the war, the quadrupling of the cost of oil, and the cost of helping to reconstruct Iraq.
This war has not even met its grossest goal of protecting the oil supply. Assume for a moment that you are a capitalist monster right out of Ayn Rand’s fiction, an utterly ruthless bastard who wholeheartedly supports a war fought ONLY to get oil, without the slightest humanitarian considerations. Even by this most barbaric standard, the Iraq war is a colossal failure. For $3 trillion we could put a Prius or a similarly efficient car in every garage, double our fuel efficiency, and reduce our domestic fuel consumption for cars and SUVs from about 140 billion gallons a year to 70 billion.
“Really?” you may wonder. Well, on to the math. There are about 110 million households in the USA. Hand out the $3 trillion to those households, and each one gets about $27,000: plenty enough for one of those efficient cars in every garage! (Of course my preference would be to invest the money in better mass transit, promotion of carpools and energy conservation, and investment in research and development of more efficient technology for energy production, but you get the point.)
Iraq now produces about 2.11 million barrels of crude oil per day, about 10% of what we consume in the USA each day. That amount of oil will yield about 41 million gallons of gasoline a day, or about 14.7 billion gallons of gasoline a year. So the hybrid in every garage could save 5 TIMES AS MUCH GASOLINE as Iraq yields. No wonder George Bush failed in the oil business. The stupid shit just can’t resist the idea of throwing away money in search of oil. The difference between running the USA and running his failed oil schemes was that his backers pulled the plug on his half-assed ventures. Congress has not had the common sense to do this with his latest oil enterprise. Unfortunately, its negligence threatens to bankrupt not just a few lamebrain oil outfits, but our entire nation.