There's No Such Thing as a Free Bomb: A Brilliant Idea from Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal
By Art Carden
This particular installment was especially brilliant. It proposes a browser plug-in that makes the opportunity cost of military hardware explicit.
The night of my 32nd birthday, I remember lying on the living room floor and writing my article “Bombs over Big Bird.” While I don’t think the government should be funding PBS and NPR, public broadcasting probably wouldn’t even be rounding error in the military budget.
Resources used to fight wars are like resources used to build stadiums and bridges to nowhere. The resources are scarce, and they have alternative uses. As the human mind doesn’t handle large numbers very well, it might actually be a very good idea to better contextualize the numbers we’re talking about. This XKCD illustrates: we have a very hard time appreciating just how much larger $170 billion is than $165 million. If we can express these numbers in terms of what they can buy, we might perhaps have a better shot at really grasping what we’re doing.