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What would you do with a trillion dollars?


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What would you do with a trillion dollars? Author lists the possiblities

 

When the Sunday morning political pundits began talking last year about the tab for the war in Iraq hitting $1 trillion, Rob Simpson sprang...

 

By DUNCAN MANSFIELD

 

The Associated Press

 

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Author Rob Simpson spent a year on his book about other uses for the money.

 

 

 

Author Rob Simpson spent a year on his book about other uses for the money.

 

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- When the Sunday morning political pundits began talking last year about the tab for the war in Iraq hitting $1 trillion, Rob Simpson sprang from his sofa in indignation.

 

"Why aren't people outraged about this? Why aren't we hearing about it?" Simpson said. And then it came to him: "Nobody knows what a trillion dollars is."

 

The amount -- $1,000,000,000,000 -- was just too big to comprehend.

 

So Simpson, 51, decided to embark "on an unusual but intriguing research project" to put the dollars and cents of the war into perspective. He hired some assistants and spent 12 months immersed in economic data and crunching numbers.

 

The result: a slim but heavily annotated paperback released, "What We Could Have Done With the Money: 50 Ways to Spend the Trillion Dollars We've Spent on Iraq."

 

Simpson is no geopolitical, macroeconomic, inside-the-Beltway expert. He's an armchair analyst and creative director for an advertising agency, a former radio announcer and music critic in Ontario and a one-time voice-over actor. His alternative spending choices reflect his curiosity and wit.

 

He calculates $1 trillion could pave the entire U.S. interstate highway system with gold -- 23.5-karat gold leaf. It could buy every person on the planet an iPod. It could give every high-school student in the United States a free college education. It could pay off every American's credit card. It could buy a Buick for every senior citizen still driving in the United States.

 

America could double the 663,000 cops on the beat for 32 years. It could buy 16.6 million Habitat for Humanity houses, enough for 43 million Americans.

 

It's too recent to make Simpson's list, but that $1 trillion could also have paid for the Bush administration's financial bailout plan, with $300 billion to spare. It might not be enough, however, to pay for the war in Iraq. Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz has recently increased his estimate of the war's cost to $3 trillion.

 

Copyright 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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To put a trillion dollars into perspective, considering that this amount was borrowed, just understand that every man woman and child in the US now owes $3,333 more. If you eliminate those under 18 and over 65 it's more like $5,000 and if you eliminate the baby boomers as well (since they are approaching retirement and the amount won't even be discussed until they have retired, the amount is more like $10,000 per person owed by those who are going to be likely to have to pay it (or pay the interest on it).

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