As things in and about Iraq go from bad to evil, and the no exit meme takes root (in the Existentialist not the Pottery Barn sense), it may be time to revive my Modest Dinner-Party-Based Proposal For An Iraqi Exit Strategy:
According to the CIA Factbook, Iraq today has an estimated population of just over 24,683,000, and (in 2002) had a GDP estimated at US$58 billion in purchasing power parity, giving it an estimated GDP per capita of about $2,400. …
Counting just the reconstruction grant [$20.3 billion], that makes a subsidy about equal to 40% of Iraq’s former GDP, and about $960 for every Iraqi. Throw in what we are spending to occupy the country, and it’s more than last year’s Iraqi GDP, and about $3,230 per Iraqi.
Having seen these numbers, I’ve now cooked up a modest proposal for a US exit strategy from Iraq. Bring all the troops home. Give each Iraqi $3000 a year for the next year or two, and count on the free market to conduct the reconstruction for us at much greater efficiency than we would otherwise achieve.
I was mostly sorta kidding when I proposed giving every Iraq $3000 and going home, but the idea had legs.
This blog was a baby then and had no readers (now it's a toddler and has 500+ daily readers directly plus I'd guess about 1000 via the full-text feeds), but the idea either got picked up or, more likely, independently imagined by The Onion (which raised it to $3,544.91, a much funnier number).
But of course it isn't that funny any more. They and we have lost lives; the occupation has shamed and humilated both nations (and our troops have retreated, and seem on road to being defeated, with very bad long run consequences). The search is on for an exit strategy. Meanwhile, the projected costs keep going up: The projection for next year is either $50 billion or much more, depending on what day it is); yesterday's estimate was at least $65 billion for 2005 alone.
At $65 billion/year we can give each Iraqi $2,689.65 per year, which is more than the per capita GDP before the war. Compare this to an Iraqi disability pension of between $18-47 per month, or what ABC news touts as the new, way above market Iraqi salaries (for those not unemployed) paid by US contractors — an average wage of $4 to $5 per day.
In my original post, I did note that “We can’t do that until shortly before the election”. Maybe given current events we move up the timetable?