The Political Dollar

29 Apr

BBC reports, that according to UN over 100,000 people have benefited from a $1.5 million solar loan project that provides $300-500 for setting up solar lights. If the math is right, $1.5 million would have yielded, assuming perfect distribution, about 3100 such lamps (with the average cost of $400). In other words, each of these 3100 lamps benefits 30 people each.

Cross the $1.5 million figure with the $125 billion, which the US has spent post hurricane Katrina to “help” about 5 times as many people. [Washington Post, 2000 US Census put New Orleans population at 484,000] In other words the US government has spent an estimated $200,000 per person.

In many respects, the above comparison is a false one. It compares money needed to emerge out of a disaster, which requires rebuilding houses and infrastructure, with providing loans for buying solar systems that provide electricity for a few appliances. It does, however, provide one with a barometer of how much the world spends and on whom.