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An Idea for Media -- Cover the War Like a Math Class

By       Message Schecter, Danny     Permalink
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New York, New York: There is or used to be a debt clock on New York's 42nd Street chronicling the growing national debt, minute by minute, showing how much money Americans owed. That clock is being rebuilt because the people who made it did not allow enough space on it for anything above, 9 billion, 999 million, 99 thousand and 99 cents. With the debt promising to rise above ten trillion, a new digital clock is being readied.

If we can cover our economic distress that way, why not the Iraq war?

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Who will join me in building a War Clock to show the vast amounts of money being pissed away every second in Iraq? Wouldn't this be a feature that every TV newscast could update daily, just as they report on the movements of the stock market? All it would require is a simple graphic.

The drama of human beings dying and a country like Iraq being devastated doesn't seem to register on many Americans. Perhaps that's because, as a nation, market logic has subsumed moral logic and nothing matters unless it is quantified.

In the world of sports, people with less than elementary school educations manage to remember intricate sports statistics and understand the computation of complex odds behind gambling.

In business, and now increasingly in life, the bottom line separates winners from losers. The tickers are everywhere.

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We all have to memorize complicated numbers just to get by -- social security numbers, credit scores. Credit cards, ATM numbers etc, etc.

So what about the numbers of war? Do you think most Americans understand what this conflict is costing them not only in lives lost but in what used to be called our "national treasure?"

Here's a number most of us don't know: $291,875,368,544. That's the official cost of the war, as I write, according to the national priorities project. They break all of this down on their website:

It breaks down to $2,629 per household.

Which in turn translates into $1,168 per person.

Those of us here in New York State have coughed up $24,991,439,397.

What else could that money have bought?

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Instead we could have paid for 38,701,306 children to attend a year of Head Start.

Instead, we could have insured 174,967,057 children for one year.

Instead could have provided 14,164,972 students four-year scholarships at public universities.

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News Dissector Danny Schechter is blogger in chief at Mediachannel.Org He is the author of PLUNDER: Investigating Our Economic Calamity (Cosimo Books) available at See

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