Amid the recent spate of numbers being thrown around (a few hundred million dollars for these weapons, forty billion dollars for some more stuff), I was casting around for “how to put these numbers into perspective“.
I found this great article, from the Project on Government Oversight, that covered a lot of bases, and led me to look for more.
This is the first resource, from the Pentagon itself.
This is pretty terrible in itself; if you multiply the two numbers on the bottom line, the DoD estimate comes to $1,497,006,000,000, which is a large amount of money.
This is the second resource, which indicates that the DoD estimate is about a third of the total cost.
Additional factors include the interest on the money borrowed, and veteran care, and bring it to 6.4 trillion over 19 years.
Even if we take the “lower” estimate of $5.4 trillion, it’s still hard to viscerally make sense of it.
One way is to divide it by the number of days: 19 * 365 = 6935.
$5.4T / 6935d = $778.659M/d
Let’s be generous and round down.
The “burn rate” comes to $750 Million dollars, every single day.
Now that’s a lot of money.
As a fun (well, darkly fun) aside, you probably can’t even burn money that fast.
- Caveat #1: literally burning money is illegal, don’t try this.
- Caveat #2: there is a way of destroying large amounts of cash, but only the Fed gets to do it, by shredding it (Again, not as fast as $750M a day)
This does make for a good unit of comparison (“DWOTS”, or “Daily War On Terror Spend“).
Here are some things worth “1 DWOTS”:
- A bit more weapons for Ukraine
- Arms sales to Taiwan
- The Powerball jackpot total from 2019
- The amount the Not-so-Better.com CEO has said he’s “personally guaranteed” to SoftBank
- Google’s announced investment in Nebraska
- The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation gift to speed vaccine delivery
- World Bank financing for Kenya to recover from COVID-19 (ditto for South Africa, this is a popular round number)
- Worldwide box-office receipts for The Batman