American farmers are among the casualties in the Trade War. President Trump is offering them $12 billion in emergency aid to soften the blow. We have, therefore, a wealth-transferring policy on top of a counterproductive wealth-destroying policy. What are the alternatives? What else could we get for that $12 billion? Its pretty well known that people dont handle large numbers particularly wellthe average person doesnt quite get the difference between one million and one billion, because both are simply a lotso heres a bit of perspective. Inspired by a social media post from Zach Weinersmith of the Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal webcomic, here are some of the other things we could get for $12 billion.
Pay 200,000 people to form a giant human Voltron for eight hours a day for a year (Weinersmiths suggestion). Lets be a bit more specific. The population of Birmingham, Alabama (where I live) is 212,157thats people who live in the city not the larger metro area. For $12 billion, you could pay every man, woman, and child in Birmingham $18 an hour to form human Voltron eight hours a day for 365 days. In fact, this would only cost $11,150,971,920. That would leave with about $849,000,000 with which to pay cash for the citys arena renovation and new stadium. Twice. With almost $250,000,000 left over.
A Super National Science Foundation. The NSFs 2018 budget request was $6.653 billion. That $12 billion could either fund the NSF for almost two years. Or maybe we could establish a Super National Science Foundation. We could call it the National Mad Science Foundation as a nod to Weinersmith and nerds around the world. If it produces a working lightsaber, its worth it.
Buy every man, woman, and child in America breakfast at Waffle House for a week. Every Wednesday is Waffle Wednesday at our house. Unless were out of town you can find us at the Five Points Waffle House where you can get a waffle, scrambled eggs, and coffee for $5 and a kids waffle, meat (bacon or sausage), and a drink for $4.50. Youd probably need to bring a dollar or two of your own to cover tax and tip.
Fund the Corporation for Public Broadcasting for almost 27 years. The CPBs FY 2018 operating budget is $445,500,000. $12 billion would buy you a lot of episodes of Sesame Street and All Things Considered.
Or just hand every man, woman, and child in America about $37.42. These are all cool ideas, but you might disagree. Maybe you didnt grow up with Voltron like I did. My kids and I love Waffle House. You might not. Who am I to tell you to eat waffles? Just pass out the dough as a refundable tax credit or something and let the market work.
But these are just a few suggestions. Answer in the comments: what would you buy with $12 billion?
|Art Carden is a Research Fellow at the Independent Institute and an Associate Professor of Economics at Samford Universitys Brock School of Business.|