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The $456 Billion Meme

Many thanks to Dr. Rob at the Musings of a Distractible Mind
blog for tagging me with the 456 billion dollar meme…  The idea of this game is to think of the best
way to spend 456 billion dollars.  Sam at
BlogMD started this meme when considering how the total amount of money spent
on the war in Iraq may have been better spent (he suggests that we could have
cured cancer by giving that money to the NCI instead).  By contrast, Rob’s proposal is rather whimsical, exploring
the number of llamas and goats that could have been purchased for that amount
of cash.

I’m of two minds – part of me wants to be silly, the other
wants to be serious (a tension that is part of Rob’s daily inner struggle)… but
in this case I’m afraid that silly wins.

Silly Val

My apologies to Sam for allowing his noble meme to
deteriorate so rapidly into chaos but what did you expect, tagging a goat loving
guy who blogs about the history of accordions?
It’s not surprising that his pals would wander off into uncharted animal
territory, rather than suggesting solutions that might actually achieve world

I myself have a special fondness for any animal whose face
bears an expression of astonishment, goofyness, or inquisitiveness.  Some animals are just plain cute because of
their whimsical behavior.

Given my recent concern about melamine and pet food tainting
– I suppose the 456 billion could be used to create US regulated, safe, animal
food factories to support the culinary needs of kitties and doggies everywhere…
except in China, of course, where they make pet food but eat pets.  There’s some kind of irony in there somewhere…

Of course, humans are people too… and I also worry about the
safety of the food supply for them.  The
latest food debacles (salmonella in Cadbury’s chocolate bars and in US
peanut butter, as well as the E. coli/spinach issue) highlight the fact that
even the West’s attempts to regulate and monitor food safety have fallen down
on the job.

So… in honor of the culinary medical blog “The Blog That Ate Manhattan” – our Grand
Rounds host this week – I am voting to use the $456 billion on safe food for
pets and people.  Since math isn’t my
forte, I’m not sure exactly how the cost break down will go, but I think it’s
something like:

Cost of creating internationally safe pet food: $50 billion

Cost of creating an air-tight FDA process for ensuring human
food and drug safety: $100 billion

Cost of setting up safe, organic producers of healthy food
all over the world: $306 billion

The cost of a fat, juicy, 100% Salmonella-free wild fish
steak on summer barbeque grill… priceless.

I tag the following bloggers to tell me what they would do
with $456 billion…  Dr. Charles, Dr. Joe,
Dr. Charlie, Dr. Jeff, and Mira Kirshenbaum.This post originally appeared on Dr. Val’s blog at

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2 Responses to “The $456 Billion Meme”

  1. Dr. Scherger says:

    I would use the $456 billion to set up a health care system which covered all Americans.  That is what we should have done with the money anyway.  Uwe Reinhardt from Princeton has stated that we could provided universal health coverage in America for a year with the cost of 6 months in Iraq.  I would make this a scientifically sound benefit package covering the health care that people really need.  Then the U.S. would stop being the embarrassment of the developed world in having such great health care yet we do not provide it as a benefit to our citizens.

  2. MiraKirshenbaum says:
    If you gave me $456 billion dollars, what would I do with it? 
    First, I’d take a few million of this for myself.  I’ve worked hard all my life since I was 12.  I think I’m entitled to have a little fun, maybe go a little nuts.  Sorry about this, but so it is.
    But that would still leave $455.6 billion.  I would divide this equally between two groups. 
    The first group is the millions of kids in America that we have just given up on.  They were born in the wrong neighborhood, the wrong section of the country, they’re the wrong color, and they have the wrong attitude.  At least that’s how we treat them.  And so we give up on them, and they know we’ve  given up on them.  And then most of them give up on themselves. 
    They are the least of us, and they deserve our best.  I would devote this portion of the money to programs that have demonstrably shown that they can be successful at giving these children hope and real opportunity.
    I would devote the rest of the money to Africa.  Africa is where people on our planet today are in the most trouble.  In the past, aid to Africa has been largely wasted, however.  So I would make sure that the money we allocated to Africa for health, education, and economic development was given only to programs shown to have both the highest leverage and the most solid  evidence that  they actually help people and are cost effective.

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