42.27 Hours

$350 million in international aid for tsunami aid is impressive, a healthy donation. I don’t wish to diminish its value, but let’s keep things in perspective:

…The war in Iraq has cost $130 billion to date (per the Office of Management and Budget). Given that we invaded Iraq 20 March 2003, that comes to 656 days since the invasion, which in turn equals $198,730,732 per day. In other words, the total amount committed by the US government to date for tsunami relief — $350,000,000 — equals 42.27 hours of the cost of the war in Iraq.

Colin Powell has been talking about U.S. donations as an opportunity to show the Muslim world that the U.S. is generous, un-evil, has priorities straight.

“…its $350 million for the victims of last week’s earthquake and tsunami “does give the Muslim world and the rest of the world an opportunity to see American generosity, American values in action.”

I guess Powell assumes that affected Muslims won’t do math similar to above.

Music: Electric Light Orchestra :: Jungle

6 Replies to “42.27 Hours”

  1. I guess Powell assumes that affected Muslims won’t do math similar to above.

    Let’s hope not, as the math above is flawed.

    The cost of the war in Iraq factors in material, wages, overhead etc etc. The $350M in tsunami aid is a cash outlay.

    You need to add to that the cost of moving the USS Abraham Lincoln and its tending fleet to the area. The cost of the helicopter missions. The cost of deploying additional helicopters to the task force. The cost of the wages for all the military personnel involved. The cost of the foodstuffs being distributed. The list goes on.

    In the end, the Iraq war will be more expensive. But the amount of humanitarian aid will top “42.27 days.”

  2. A worthy calculation.

    Perhaps fighting evil is more expensive than fighting nature. So you better be right.

    Correction to above comment. That’s 42.27 hours, not days. I wonder if the relief will be greater than 42.27 war-cost hours?

  3. mnep, I’m sure you’re right. I was thinking that the $350m was “inclusive” of other material and personnel contributions, but on reflection, that’s probably not the case.

    And I’m sure the cash contribution will rise in time — perhaps sooner than later.

    Still, the largest per capita donors to the effort in the world are Sweden and Denmark. The lowest per capita donors are China and the U.S. We’re the richest nation in the world. If we’re not a top donor to a cause like this, especially given what we’re spending for “other priorities,” then something is drastically wrong.

  4. This page from the USAID web site details some aid by the US government not included in the $350M.

    Total USG Humanitarian and Recovery Assistance Pledged: $350,000,000
    Total USAID/OFDA Humanitarian Assistance Committed: $49,012,618
    Total USG Humanitarian Assistance Committed: $65,864,524

    I would also direct your attention to the bottom of the page to the section “USG Assistance.” These figures still do not reflect the cost of military deployment, fuel, material, military wages, operations, planning etc etc.

    Even without those factored in our government has pledged and is delivering more than $100M beyond the $350M.

    Colin Powell has said total USG aid will eventually exceed $1Bn.

    And this doesn’t include the donations by private citizens to various charities. As of December 31 the American Red Cross had received $18 million in donations; Doctors Without Borders, $4 million; CARE USA $3.5 million; Save the Children, $3 million; AmericaCares, $2 million; Oxfam America, $1.6 million, and Catholic Charities, $1.13 million.

    That’s $33.3M just to those charities. In just 5 days after the tsunami hit.

    The American government is not stingy to people in need. And neither are the American people.

    But that “42.27 hours” makes for more sensational headline copy than do facts. Facts are for journalists, not bloggers like Frank Boosman with an axe to grind. ;)

  5. mnep, thanks for the additional info. I had a feeling the overall amount the U.S. gives to the effort would eventually increase. The important point here is that neither the initial dollar amounts nor dollar amounts period tell the whole story.

    > But that “42.27 hours” makes for more sensational headline copy than do facts. Facts are for journalists, not bloggers like Frank Boosman with an axe to grind. ;)

    Well, that’s a slipperly slope. Boosman’s post wasn’t absent facts, and his facts weren’t incorrect. Facts are not “for journalists” — they’re for everyone. Journalists get paid to do the research and so are more likely to spend more time looking at the larger picture, uprooting additional information to paint a more complete picture than the average blogger with a day job who’s just tossing off observations and field notes on the fly (guilty). But there are plenty of bloggers out there doing a better job of uncovering facts than many journalists are, which is one of the reasons journalists are taking bloggers so seriously (more so all the time) as a source (a source to be viewed skeptically, but a source nonetheless), as a context, as an early-warning system, as a realization that the eyes of the world now have mouths as well.

    Just look at how much egg bloggers put on Dan Rather’s face.

    The big difference is that a journalist at least theoretically hews to a standard of fairness, while a blogger has no one to answer to, and may or may not feel the need to strive for fairness and accuracy (no one talks about the mythical “objectivity” anymore, thankfully). The bloggers that do strive for fairness and accuracy but that can still make a point tend to be both the most popular and to earn the most credibility.

  6. The bloggers that do strive for fairness and accuracy but that can still make a point tend to be both the most popular and to earn the most credibility.

    Cool. So my credibility just jumped a bit ahead of Boosman’s. ;)

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