Moneychangers in the Temple

Jason Louv writes:

$ it would take to provide basic education for everybody in the world: $6 billion

Water and sanitation for all: $9 billion

Reproductive health for all women: $12 billion

Basic health and nutrition for all: $13 billion

Total (Education, water, sanitation, reproductive health, food and health for all): $40 billion

Amount that the United States spends on the “New Age” marketplace alone: $44 billion

From: Jason’s Myspace blog.

Update: Did some quick fact checking and it appears the above numbers are from 1998 and pertain only to developing countries, not the whole world. See the comments for more info.


  1. Scott Rassbach

    April 8, 2008 at 6:20 pm


    6.6 billion people in the world.

    Lets say that 25% of them are under 18. That’s 1.65 Billion.

    We’re going to spend $3.63/student and give people a basic education? Is that a yearly figure? Basic education in the US costs $7552 per student per year. For 1.65 Billion people, that’s $12 Trillion per year.

    Ok, lets not use the US, we do lots of stupid stuff. How about Mexico? ~$3,000 per year per student. $4 trillion per year. Heck, $300 per year is still going to be $400 Billion. And that’s just Education.

    Women: 3.3 billion women in the world. Reproductive health for all? What does that entail? Checkups? Birth Control Pills? Hormone replacement? Condoms? Education?

    Food? Nutrition?

    Methinks the OP simplifies a bit.

  2. Scott Rassbach

    April 8, 2008 at 6:27 pm

    Sorry, the actual percent of the World population

  3. Scott Rassbach

    April 8, 2008 at 6:29 pm


    Sorry, the actual percentage of the world population under age 15 is 29%, or 1.91 billion. Still, the numbers are good ballparks.

  4. I agree with Rassbach’s debunking of utopian math.
    That being said, if you add up what the US federal gov pays for war, disease & debt, etc., you’ll see that all that is spent on “illth” could perhaps be better used on actually building wealth, instead of going down the drain in green piss.

    $481.4 billion – DOD (Doesn’t count Iraq & Afganistan and their total between 1.2+ trillion and 500billion according to gov)
    $145.2 billion – Global War on Terror (which misses the states War on Some Drugs)
    $261 billion – Interest on 9.5 trillion in debt
    $608 billion – Social Security
    $386 billion – Medicare
    $209 billion – Medicaid and SCHIP


    $17.3 billion – NASA
    $56.0 billion – United States Department of Education


  5. Thanks Scott. Those numbers do look flimsy. Even $44 billion for the New Age industry seems inflated. If true it’s pretty amazing. OTOH, the costs of education, etc. in the States and even Mexico is probably a hell of a lot higher than the costs in places like Ghana.

    FWIW, the budget of the Peace Corps, which addresses issues like education and poverty around the world, is $325 million.

    V – I’d rather pay for Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and SCHIP than either NASA or the Department of Education.

  6. Some quick numbers:

    “The World Bank estimates it would cost about $15 billion a year to provide universal primary education for children in 88 developing countries. The World Health Organization says it would cost $21 billion a year to provide basic health care for people in those same countries. The Food and Agricultural Organization estimates $6 billion a year would provide school lunches for children in the 44 poorest countries.”


  7. Ah, here’s where he got his numbers:

    The facts come from United Nations Development Programme (see here:

    They are for “developing countries” only.

  8. How about these numbers:
    $1 spent on superstition = definite waste.
    $1 spent on science = possible benefit.

  9. like you dont know

    April 9, 2008 at 2:15 pm

    $1 spent on the church of the subgenius = possible waste and definite benefit.

  10. Klintron – by paying for SS, Medicaid and the like society has produced the most radical shift in population demographics in the history of the world, making the average age much, much older than it used to be and encourage devolution. Old people want a boring, stable world where their investments and safety aren’t threatened.

    If you want to place the blame for the increased control found in europe and america from a former history of increased freedom during the last 30 years look there.

    On another level, Medicaid and socialized medicine subsidizes sickness and social security equals the non-old of america subsidizing its elders’ lack of financial foresight. The youth of today will not see a penny of what they pay (have you?). It is all robbery via the armed redistribution of wealth. Now the old have both the “natural” benefits of capitalization/interest over time and the their hand in the pocket of the generations below them.

    As a society we are choosing the past over the future and it shows.

  11. Well when you bring money into it it’s going to get skewed. Money isn’t food and it isn’t water. No matter how many numbers you put after the $ it isn’t going to equate to anything in reality. Especially when you figure how new money is created and how trillions of it is tied up in the global derivatives trade, which is basically trading ever increasingly complex contracts on trades.

    If you took the global money supply and tried to match it up with assets it would quickly be found that there is a whole lot of extra money out there floating around on nothing (A lot of which you can see being destroyed in the subprime meltdown; the thing people are really scared of is it spreading to the other credit markets making all that money disappear)

    As I read in the earlier comments those numbers aren’t entirely accurate. But even if they are true, what if some mega-charity was able to get a hold of that much money? As they start trying to get food, water, and education to everybody they will find a serious lack or “scarcity” in all three departments. Global Demand for them would skyrocket and so would the price. It seems to me that one of the reasons those prices are so low for us in the west is because a giant portion of the world is priced out of the market making the demand lower than it would normally be.

  12. The implication being that these problems are somehow the fault of people who buy New Age books instead of sending checks to mythical organizations solving the aforementioned problems. Or put more simply, what the fuck do the first five figures have to do with the sixth? The white guilt mongering seems a little strange coming from someone whose last appearance in social consciousness was slandering Afro-Caribbean religion with the basest kind of attention whoring.

    Trevor’s comment seems far more relevant. Let’s assume that $44B gets spent on “New Age” products (where did that figure come from, btw? And what is considered the “New age marketplace?”). How much is tithed to the Catholic Church? How much is spent on organizations whose primary activity consists of posting proto-fascist thugs outside of abortion clinics? What about all the money being spent by right wing think tanks fermenting xenophobia and imperialism? To speak nothing of the defense budget, giveaway to pharmaceutical companies / big oil, and far more destructive forms of conspicuous consumption than a dream catcher.

    If you want to pick apart people’s spending habits methinks there are far better places to start than the eighteenth “Law of Attraction” book or crystals or whatever. I know I’m supposed to feel like, horribly shamed right now or whatever. But I just don’t see the connection between the world’s problems and the New Age marketplace. The world (even the one immediately around me) seems to have far bigger problems. Frankly, it just seems like more demagoguery from Louv Ron. Whenever someone so frequently and adamantly points their finger in your face (or anyone’s for that matter) the obvious question is- “what the fuck are YOU doing, buddy?”

  13. “The implication being that these problems are somehow the fault of people who buy New Age books instead of sending checks to mythical organizations solving the aforementioned problems. Or put more simply, what the fuck do the first five figures have to do with the sixth?”

    Westerners spend a lot of money on utter crap, and the New Age market is just a part of that. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to suggest that people seeking enlightenment might better spend their money on, say, a donation to the Mercy Corps (which is working on at least the nourishment problem). Or, more to the point, those SELLING enlightenment might want to step up to the plate and put a chunk of that $44 billion to good use.

    (That being said, everyone still please spend $40 on an Esozone ticket.)

  14. V –

    Please provide some substantial evidence of this supposed “devolution.”

    “The youth of today will not see a penny of what they pay.”

    Thanks for the debunked Republican talking point.

    “It is all robbery via the armed redistribution of wealth.”

    I fundamentally disagree with this characterization of taxation and welfare, but I won’t go into that now. However, giving our tax money to NASA or school children via the Department of Education is still theft, by your definition.

    Besides, as I understand it private space programs aren’t hurting for money. They’re more hampered by regulations.

    If you’re fine with children and the elderly not having food and healthcare, don’t you think school kids to get jobs and pay for their education themselves?

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