[UPDATE: January 31, 2004 -- President Bush announced a tenfold increase in US aid, pledging $350 million.]
For perspective: the $35 million dollars in aid that the US has committed to tsunami relief efforts equals the cost to America of fighting the Iraq War for little more than three-and-a-half hours.
How does this compute?
According to "Project Billboard" the War has cost America more than $157 billion thus far. "Cost of War" more conservatively puts the number at $147.6 billion (as of 6:00pm EST, 12.30.04).
America has been at war in Iraq for approximately 654 days. So, taking the more conservative number above, that means:
654 days X 24 hours = 15,696 hours;
$147.6 billion cost / 15,696 hours = approx $9.4 million/hr
In actuality, the war may now be costing America much more than $9.4M per hour, Jeff, my accountant friend from Grand Rapids, points out. That's because the above calculation is based on straight-line averaging. "In fact, we have more troops deployed today than we did a year ago," Jeff writes. "I would say the actual hourly cost right now is probably closer to $12 M or more."
[Added knowledge: Though often annoying in a condescending humanist kind of way, Nicholas Kristof occasionally gets it right. Exhibit A: This article on American stingyness]