Friday, January 26, 2007

Lost Opportunity Costs

It's a basic consideration in any investment, yet this is not just any "basic investment."

Tonight Diane Sawyer will do a piece on 20/20 about how you only have to go as far as Camden, NJ to find children living in horrible conditions - like those you'd find in third-world nations. I heard a promo spot about this show just after listening to Charlie Gibson talk about the continuing adventures of the Decider in Chief in Iraq.

Most estimates for the cost of the Iraq War converge on about $5 billion per month. I'll use that as a nice round number. Diane's estimates of the number of American children living in poverty, with not enough to eat is close to 12 million.

So let's do the math.

What's the lost opportunity cost to the war on poverty of the most misguided part of the war on terror?

$5 billion divided by 12 million children is about $416 per child per month. Multiply that by 12 months and you get $4,992 per child per year.
Imagine - we do a lot of imagining when thinking about the good we could be doing - that every one of these 12 million children could get $416 worth of food and clothing and school supplies every month. Imagine the difference that could make in the lives of those children and their families.

Imagine that I never had to see the example that was shown on the ABC news tonight of a young child going to Kindergarten who knew his ABCs and his numbers, but didn't know the names of the three meals that most of us take for granted because he never got three meals a day.


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