Independent Media Center
March 31, 2006
500billion.com Holds Iraq War Spending Alternatives Contest
www.500billion.com is holding a monthly contest for the best alternatives for the cost of the Iraq war. March’s winner would buy 5574 Twinkies for each American. That’s 15.7 Twinkies a day for a whole year.
The www.500Billion.com contest is the brainchild of James Love. “I want to help average Americans concretely understand the scale of money being spent on the Iraq war and spark a debate on the lost opportunity costs of the war.” When asked why he chose 500 billion dollars as the cost of the Iraq War, Love replied, “The March 2006 cost of the war is $ 300 Billion and the conservative estimate now is that the war will cost $ 500 Billion. Some are estimating the cost of a long war to top $ 2 Trillion. I chose $ 500 billion simply because it is a conservative round number for the cost of the war. These extremely high figures are just too abstract for most people to understand; the contest gives people concrete examples of what 500 billion dollars really means.”
Love admits that the first month’s contest winner was actually bogus. “We needed an example of how the contest works so we made up some examples and declared the Twinkie idea the winner. It was actually my idea; I love Twinkies. The contest actually starts in April and we’ve received two entries already. For $ 500 Billion, one person calculates that all children on earth could receive basic vaccinations for 160 years. Another would buy everyone on earth 600 cans of his favorite Chinese beer and have a big anti-war party.
Love is not just inviting peace orientated entries to his contest. “If someone wants to calculate how many stealth bombers could be bought, that’s fine too. My main concern is helping American from left to right understand the lost opportunity costs of the Iraq War and to let people understand concretely the amount being spent.” The only entries Love will not allow are hateful or x-rated entries. Each month, the person with the best idea will receive $ 50. At the end of the Iraq War he will hold a vote on the best alternative. The winner will receive $ 500 to spend on whatever they want.
To enter the contest, go to www.500billion.com