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What You Could Buy For $1 Trillion — Besides the Iraq War

Citizen Rob Simpson set out on a mission: to find out what else the US could have purchased for the $1 trillion dollars the war will probably cost. As with superhumanly large numbers, most recently and famously, the $700 billion bailout, it's helpful to put the number in concrete terms. That's what Simpson did with his new book What We Could Have Done With the Money.

The book's corresponding website has a ticker on it, calculating how much money has been spent since you've been looking at the site. I had it up for a bit this morning and presto, $25 million gone. Here's the entertaining (like a haunted house is entertaining) part of the website: you can "shop" with a $1 trillion dollar credit card. Anything from sports teams to Air Force One is up for sale — and if you choose the plane, the site asks you, "quantity"? The cost of the plane is only $325 million. I tried and bought every NFL franchise, Dracula's castle, and a theme park and didn't even come close.

To see what else $1 trillion buys,


  • For $1 trillion, the US could the double the 663,000 cops on the beat for 32 years.
  • 1.9 million additional teachers for America's classrooms.
  • Forget fixing roads, for that amount the US could pave the entire interstate highway system with gold — 23.5-karat gold leaf.
  • Every person on the planet could have an iPod.
  • Every American's credit card could be paid off.

See something on the list you'd rather have? Test yourself and see if you know where spending on Iraq stacks up against other wars.


Join The Conversation
LilGlamDiva LilGlamDiva 8 years
That's really frustrating. america is dumb
lorenashley lorenashley 8 years
well i had said a while ago that they could have paid of a lot of american's debt with that money. fixed up the schooling system. a lot of things could have happen. why wont they let iraq use their surplus!? makes me think that money is going right into people's pockets.
stephley stephley 8 years
As I said, then you learn from the past. The issue will come up again in the future.
momma-tikita momma-tikita 8 years
reminder for the president and the people who supported this war. Definetly not for someone like me who thought it was a bad idea from the begining. There really isnt a point to wonder "what if". I just hope this war is over and done with soon and we could have peace...even if we are far from it.
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 8 years
Unless you dont think of it as a mistake.
stephley stephley 8 years
It isn't useless, it's a reminder for next time. You learn from the past and from your mistakes.
momma-tikita momma-tikita 8 years
it really is useless...and a shame that all that money went to kill people. Some deserving it and many many, like out troops and innocent people in Iraq, who didnt deserve it. It definetly could have been great to feed all the hungry kids for years to come with that amount. sad...
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 8 years
I dont do these types of "what ifs" or "what could we have done" .....its useless.
PiNkY-PiNk PiNkY-PiNk 8 years
this really pisses me off! gold roads?! stuff like this makes me so sad, mad, and frustrated.
MarinerMandy MarinerMandy 8 years
Wouldn't it have been easier to just pay Sadam Hussein to leave Iraq? I certainly wouldn't turn down $1 trillion!!
Marni7 Marni7 8 years
Not too mention all of the starving children we could feed!
stephley stephley 8 years
Instead, nearly 4200 military personnel have been killed, more than 30,000 wounded and as many as 96,000 Iraqi civilians are dead.
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