Wednesday, June 29, 2011

TRUE COST OF AMERICA'S WARS: $4 trillion #reason

Every American needs to understand exactly how much the war is costing us.... 

  • This is not sustainable
  • This is not intelligent
  • This is not why I voted for Obama
Thank you to the service man and women who have fought these wars, but I'm certain they too would agree: this was a huge mistake, it's a total cluster frack' and it's time to cut bait. 



There are at least three ways to think about the economic costs of these wars: what has been spent already, what could or must be spent in the future, and the comparative economic effects of spending money on war instead of something else.

Spending to Date: How much have the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan since 9/11 cost?  The answer to that question depends on what you count as a war expense and how you estimate inflation over the last 10 years.  It also depends on whether you count only the money that the U.S. has already spent or if you include the money the U.S. is committed to spending in the future.

These are the budgetary costs for the bombs, bullets, and fuel that go into making war, the troops’ pay, veteran benefits, war related foreign assistance, homeland security, and interest already paid on war related debt. 

The Costs of War economics research team used the most up-to-date publicly available figures at the time of their writing to calculate the spending on the wars from 2001 through fiscal year 2011. To make comparisons across categories and over time easier, in this summary we have converted current dollar figures to inflation-controlled 2011 dollars (constant dollars) using standard Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) deflators.

What was the Department of Defense allocated? 
The Pentagon's total allocation for war from 2001-2011 in current dollars was $1,208.1. The DOD has its own way of calculating inflation.  Using standard BEA deflators the total is $1,311.5 billion in constant 2011 dollars.  The DOD was also allocated additional funds for its base budget.  This totals $652.4 billion, some portion of which has been used for war expenses, and all of which might be counted as having been appropriated as a result of the war climate in Washington.  A conservative estimate might count only a portion of these additions to the budget over what might have been expected to be appropriated to the Pentagon. Our calculation of spending to date uses both a conservative and moderate estimate of the addition to the Pentagon's base budget.

How has the U.S. paid for the wars so far?  The United States paid for past wars by raising taxes and or selling war bonds.  The current wars were paid for almost entirely by borrowing. This borrowing has raised the U.S. budget deficit, increased the national debt, and had other macroeconomic effects, such as raising interest rates. The U.S. must also pay interest on the borrowed money. The interest paid on Pentagon spending alone, so far (from 2001 through FY 2011) is about $185.4 billion in constant dollars. 

War related spending is also found in the foreign assistance budget, known on Capitol Hill as "International Assistance" spending. Aid to Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan grew because of the war to 74.2 billion in constant dollars.   Much of that spending by the State Department and USAID directly supported military efforts.

The U.S. also increased spending on homeland security by more than $400 billion in constant dollars beyond the levels already in place.  We include this as excess spending on homeland security that occurred as a result of the war on terror. Considered by many an important part of domestic mobilization for the wars, there continue to be questions about the effectiveness of this spending.

What has already been spent to care for the medical and disability needs of U.S. veterans?  As of December 2010, the U.S. had already spent more than $32 billion for both medical care and disability for more than a million veterans of these wars. Each day, more veterans continue to apply to receive their benefits.

Obligations for Future Spending: The costs of war don't end when the fighting stops.  Specifically, the U.S. has incurred obligations by fighting the wars.  For example, the U.S. is obligated to pay the future medical and disability costs of veterans. As in past wars, medical and disability costs will peak in about 30 to 40 years, totaling from nearly 600 billion to almost $1 trillion.

Unless the U.S. immediately repays the money borrowed for war, there will also be future interest payments. <highlight “future interest payments” and link to page 28>  We estimate that interest payments could total about one trillion dollars by 2020.

Opportunity Costs of War Spending: What could the economy look like if we had not spent that money on war?  Were jobs lost or gained by war? Military spending does produce jobs.  But spending in other areas could produce more jobs.  

Military spending has also affected investment in public assets and infrastructure.  While investment in military infrastructure grew, investment in other, non-military, public infrastructure did not grow at the same rate. 

Jason on Twitter This Week in Startups

Monday, June 20, 2011

Friends don't let jackasses drink and drive.-- I agree with @ebertchicago

D9 schwag bag's Pogoplug suffers Video Recall

I was about to set this up!

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Mon, Jun 20, 2011 at 10:39 AM
Subject: D9 Schwag Bag - Pogoplug Video Recall
To: Jason Calacanis 

Dear D9 Attendee:

When you received your schwag bag at D9, it included one of my newly introduced products: Pogoplug Video. As the CEO and founder of the company that makes Pogoplug, I wanted to reach out personally to let you know that we've issued a voluntary recall of this product worldwide. There have been reports of overheating from two customers, so I have decided to remove the product from the market immediately. If you have activated your device, please safely eject your hard drives and unplug the unit as soon as possible.

I remain extremely excited about the opportunity to have you experience Pogoplug and your own personal storage cloud. If you'll allow me, I'd like to send you a replacement from our flagship Pogoplug product line. Our other devices are manufactured with different components and pose none of the safety issues affecting Pogoplug Video. If you're interested, please send an email to and we'll get a unit out to you quickly.

If you have any questions or would like to talk with me directly, please feel free to email me at

Very best regards,
Daniel Putterman
CEO Cloud Engines, Inc.
Makers of Pogoplug

• This issue is unique to the Pogoplug Video, due to specialized hardware that only exists in the Pogoplug Video product.
• The specialized hardware in question is an advanced processing chip (that can consume a significant amount of power if there is a system malfunction) designed to process video files in real time. Cloud Engines added a fan to the product as an extra precaution, and the system passed all necessary certification tests necessary to bring it to market.
• No other Pogoplug products are affected (including Pogoplug, Pogoplug Pro, and Pogoplug Biz); they are completely safe to use.
• We are in the process of contacting all customers who purchased a Pogoplug Video to offer them an exchange or refund.
• A letter to customers on our company blog includes additional information:


Jason on Twitter This Week in Startups

Sunday, June 19, 2011

My sleep report.... fascinating.


I'm getting obsessed with the quantified self. I'm using myzeo for this sleep data, wiithings scale for weight, fitbit for general activity and runkeeper for specific activities.

I'd like to host a one-day LAUNCH Health event i think. Anyone out there have suggestions of technologies to demo?

Jason on Twitter This Week in Startups

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Sleeping with bulldogs cost me sleep points on @myzeo!


I'm really enjoying MyZio... it's giving me great insights into my sleep after just two nights of use.

Basically I need to get curtains and give up the bulldogs for adoption. :-) 

Jason on Twitter This Week in Startups

Friday, June 17, 2011

How to Draw Green Lantern - Hal Jordan

really proud of Ken O'Brien, one of my teachers Mahalo who has been doing a lot of excellent drawing howto videos. 

If you didn't know, Mahalo dropped human powered search last year since it was only growing at 10% Y/Y, to focus on video-based learning.... which was growing at 100% every 3-6 months (depending on the video). 

Mahalo is now on fire with 90 employees and 30M video views a month... our library is now 40k videos!


Jason on Twitter This Week in Startups

Jose from @thegroop rocking it!

second anniversary image with @lons + @steepdecline!

Kickstarter's amazing story.... love this company.

Startups #151 with Yancey Strickler of Kickstarter in NYC

If you're a filmmaker, photographer, actor, chef or just about any other creative type, you've no doubt heard about the phenomenon that is Kickstarter, the largest creative crowd-funding site in the world. From the TWiST NYC studios, Jason interviews Kickstarter's co-founder Yancey Strickler, who has a wealth of advice to give to would-be entrepreneurs and those who want their own pet-project kickstarted.
kickstarter's amazing story...

For background on Yancey and Kickstarter, go to 

0:00-1:00 Welcome and introduction of guest, Yancey Strickler.
1:00-2:00 Thank you to Belgrave Trust for the studio and to Squarespace for sponsoring the show. (Remember to thank @squarespace!)
2:00-4:00 How did Kickstarter get its start?
10:00-12:00 What was the size of a project in the early days?
12:00-14:00 Would this idea have worked prior to social media?
15:00-19:00 So the middle man lost out on one of the most amazing products that could have been in the Apple store?
19:00-20:00 Who are the imitators that are doing this in Europe and giving equity?
20:00-21:00 How did the team over at USV come to invest?
21:00-22:00 How does Kickstarter make money?
22:00-23:00 Is that something unique to Amazon's payment system?
23:00-24:30 $60 million has been pledged so far and how many projects?
25:30-26:30 How do you keep fraud or failure out of the system?
26:30-27:00 So people can say, I didn't like the result, I'm charging back?
27:00-28:30 Why is the quality of projects on Kickstarter so high?
28:30-29:00 Do people go to Kickstarter looking for a project to fund or do they go because someone emailed them?
29:00-30:00 GoToMeeting ad. Remember to thank @gotomeeting!
30:00-31:30 Ok, back to it: Do people go to Kickstarter looking for a project to fund or do they go because someone emailed them?
31:30-32:30 How is this impacting different industries? Where are you having the biggest impact?
32:30-33:30 How many projects do you think you'll have at Sundance next year?
33:30-34:00 So under-serviced demographics are getting the most traction?
34:00-35:15 Is there something fundamentally changing about culture consumption?
35:15-37:00 In a way it's a triumph over the lowest common denominator of the arts?
37:00-37:45 So now the legends are coming?
37:45-41:00 As a first time entrepreneur, what's been the hardest part?
41:00-42:30 A year ago how much were you doing per week?
43:00-44:30 Will it go down to the mom and pop level? You're not snobs about the project?
44:30-45:45 Do you have any advice for people to get their project approved and get it on the front page?
45:45-46:15 This has been an amazing interview and I cannot stop thinking about Kickstarter.
46:15-47:00 Thank you to our sponsors GoToMeeting and Squarespace, and to our TWiST List Executive Producers for joining me in the studio.
47:00-47:15 Remember to tune in Friday at 7pm PT for the special TWISTEES 2nd anniversary show. If you're in the LA area, come join us in the studio:

Special Thanks to the members of the TWiST List Producer Program!

Executive Producers
Louis-Eric Simard, Benjamin Gifford, Jacek Artymiak, Octavian Mihai, Will Paoletto, Geoffrey Clapp, Eien Hyett, Jeff Hoffer, Kyle Lonzo, Austin Miller, Rashaun Sourles, Robb Kunz, Greg Berry, Sean Lynch, Mary Ann Halford, Jim Joyce, Morgan Howard, Margaret Johns, Kyle M. Brown, Paul Cole, Nick Duncan

Eli Coler, Ted Inoue, Radek Rybicki, Hunter Owens, Christian Owens, Ben Altieri, Casey Wach, Cam Collins, Ildar Khakimov, Matti Hallanoro, Rodrigo Dauster, Rodrigo Fuentes, Anthony Ortenzi, Daniel de la Cruz, Michael Hofmann

Associate Producers

Brad Pineau, Kat Ganesan, Nicholas Christian, Mau Frontier, Kyle Braatz, Serena Ehrlich, Nathan Hangen, Lauri Hahne, JD, Trudy Baidoo, Ian Gerstel, Julian Hearn, Alex Lotoczko, James Kennedy, Benoit Curdy, Asher Nevins, Mike Kaltschnee, Paul Higgins, Patrick Altman, Turki Fahad

Ryan Hoover, Michael Cranston, Josiah Thomas, João Fernandes, Petrus Theron, Michael Wild, Adrian Grant, Dale Emmons, Kieran McGrady, Tim de Jardine, Alejandro Vasquez, C. Dain Miller, Joshua Opatz, Milan Babuskov, Chris Rowe, Nelson Melo, James Dawson, Toddy Mladenov, Daniel Torres, Chris Macke

Jason on Twitter This Week in Startups

Tonight @ 7PM... The TWISTies (This Week in Startups year 2 awards)