Fearful Symmetries

Witness a machine turn coffee into pointless ramblings...

01 December, 2008

All Those Lean Greens

Yesterday at the laundromat I ran into Dave, a homeless man that I'd spoken with this past summer. He didn’t remember me and he gave me the abbreviated version of his life story again. This day, he was waiting for a friend, who was living out of his truck, to return from a check cashing place. All he wanted was a few bucks to buy some beer. With cash in hand, Dave would be off to the gas station to get his liquid breakfast before retrieving his blanket and throwing it in the dryer.

We chatted as my clothes dried. Once again Dave told me that he's an alcoholic, his wife had died several years ago, he is a Gulf War veteran, etc. His big plan was to get into a rehab center for a 60-day period of drying out to be followed by job counseling and, hopefully, getting a place to live. As we stood outside, I couldn't help but notice a couple who had earlier thrown a couple loads into the wash. They sat in their SUV with the engine running rather than take in the free heat of the laundromat.

Dave's buddy returned just as my laundry finished drying which meant Dave had the $4 he needed to get his beer. He took off promising to return. I finished folding my clothes but Dave had not yet returned. I drove down Willy Street but never saw him. Presumably he was somewhere out of the cold enjoying his breakfast with John Barleycorn.

When I got home, I put away my laundry and read some news online. I found some amazing statistics about the ongoing bailout. Whereas Dave just wanted $4 to get himself some beer, the financial industry has received $4.655 trillion in financial aid. That's a lot of goddamn money. To illustrate just how much that is, Jim Bianco of Bianco Research did some cipherin'. Take a look at this list of other instances of government spending:

Marshall Plan: Cost: $12.7 billion, Inflation Adjusted Cost: $115.3 billion
Louisiana Purchase: Cost: $15 million, Inflation Adjusted Cost: $217 billion
Race to the Moon: Cost: $36.4 billion, Inflation Adjusted Cost: $237 billion
S&L Crisis: Cost: $153 billion, Inflation Adjusted Cost: $256 billion
Korean War: Cost: $54 billion, Inflation Adjusted Cost: $454 billion
The New Deal: Cost: $32 billion (Est), Inflation Adjusted Cost: $500 billion (Est)
Invasion of Iraq: Cost: $551b, Inflation Adjusted Cost: $597 billion
Vietnam War: Cost: $111 billion, Inflation Adjusted Cost: $698 billion
NASA: Cost: $416.7 billion, Inflation Adjusted Cost: $851.2 billion

All of this cost only $3.92 trillion. We were able to help rebuild Europe, buy huge tracts of land, prosecute 3 wars, and send a man to the moon for less than the current bailout. For just a little less in adjusted dollars, $3.6 trillion, we fought & defeated the Nazis as well as the Japanese and helped stop genocide.

The folks at Bloomberg are reporting that we taxpayers are looking at shelling out something more on the order of $7.76 trillion to repair the credit markets. As Barry Ritholtz notes, that comes out to $24,000 for every man, woman, and child.
|| Palmer, 9:41 AM

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