Iraq ... I wish I had such a problem

In 1947 the Marshall Plan infused 12 billion dollars over four years to help rebuild the infrastructure of 16 western European countries containing 270 million people.

Iraq, by selling its oil, can conservatively generate $50 billion year for 30 years. Wisely invested in infrastructure and human resource development, Iraq can create a super Marshal plan 10 times more powerful.

Anyone in charge of distributing this money might feel like Leland and Jane Stanford when they set out to create Stanford University. They visited Harvard University (1890) and asked, "What does it cost to build and run all this." When given a number, they looked at their checkbook and said, "We will take two."

For example, $50 billion per year is enough to write each Iraqi citizen (man woman and child) a check for$ 2000. A family of six could get a $12,000 bump in income for each year in the plan. Sounds like a nice pay raise for you or me. However, for an Iraqi school teacher making $60 a year (under sanctions,) it would be like winning the lottery.

For Iraqi families that earned a $1000 dollars a year (the average before the wars and sanctions) $12,000 is still an unfathomable bonus.

If the plan did not provide direct payments to Iraqi citizens. If it employed them, at a very generous wage, creating public works, services, and education Iraq could be a pretty wonderful place to live 30 years from now when the oil ran out.

The first year 6 billion could create water, sewers, and roads for everyone. 3 billion would be enough, at Iraqi labor rates to pave every unpaved road and re-paving every paved road. In one or two more years 8 billion could convert every major road into an interstate.

A billion dollars for four 400 mw natural gas fueled power plants (that use the wasted "flame off" gas from existing wells) could double existing electric energy production. Providing very cheap electricity for the public and industry. With seven more billion and seven more years there would be 1.5 kWh continuous output per person. The same as in the US. Except the end user's cost of electricity could be far below any for profit system.

A billion the first year builds transmission lines and local distribution services to every home.

2 billion for communication systems will bring phones and data into every home.

2 billion more puts a computer in every home.

5 billion (at several times what Iraq now pays its teachers) would be enough to put 40% of the population into K-12 schools.

1 billion could train the teachers to staff these schools.

24,000 doctors would be needed to have the same ratio as we have in the US. 1.5 billion could pay their salaries ($60,000 a year is a handsome salary in Iraq.) Of course Iraq has only 6,000 doctors. So $2 billion would have to be allocated to train 18,000 more doctors.

If you have been counting you will see this plan spends only 25 billion the first year. In theory 25 billion remains to build new schools, hospitals, colleges, and mass transit.

Just thinking about what to do with next year's 50 billion makes this" do gooder" giddy.

How can a country with this opportunity for making life wonderful have a problem?

Jack Alpert 2/24/03
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