With the economy the way it is, we all have to trust our government to spend wisely (since they own your income). Otherwise, you might go out and buy some crazy outlandish car you don’t need, a pickup truck you only want, or something similar. It’s not like the government has ever spent copious amounts of money on any sort of vehicle before, have they?
Iowa Class Battleship – The Iowa Class Battleships were 4 battleships built between 1939 and 1942. These ships were ordered by the United States Government in 1939 to be the escort vessels for the fast carrier task forces that would operate and control the bulk of the Pacific during World War II. The original order was placed for 6 ships but, in a gigantic waste of money, metal, and man hours, two were canceled before completion and scrapped. These Goliath blow-your-ass-out-of-the-water mean machines were commissioned on February 22, 1943 where they began an impressive career through the end of the century, to retire from service in March of 2006. While we could not locate an exact price for the ship construction at the time, a time when Coca-Cola cost a nickel, bread a penny, and your uncle walked 5 miles uphill both ways to school, Consumerist estimates that with inflation factored in, each vessel would have cost approximately 1.8 billion dollars. That makes the total cost for the four ships roughly in the neighborhood of 7.4 billion dollars. That was money that could have been spent elsewhere. Particularly, at Playboy. Because that would be enough money to give every male in the U.S. a 4 year subscription to Playboy magazine (with enough left over for Vaseline).
Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle – Did you watch any of the U.S. Presidential debates between John McCain and Barack Obama? When asked about defense spending, do you remember McCain talking about an amphibious vehicle program that was costing the taxpayers billions of dollars? Meet the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle, or EFV. Planning and vision for this vehicle began in the 1970s and continues to this day. The EFV is a tracked vehicle with an aluminum hull designed to operate in the ocean, amphibiously land on a beach, and continue travel with a crew of 3 and a carrying capability of 17. The budget for this fabulous piece of equipment increased year after year and as of now stands at approximately 15.9 billion dollars. The catch? That’s for development. Prototypes. In fact, the US Marine Corps just sent the last batch of prototypes back to the manufacturer, dissatisfied with the fact that they broke down, on average, once for every 4.5 hours of operating time. That’s twice per operational day, per vehicle. The current cost of 15.9 billion dollars is not a final number, because the vehicles have not yet reached production phase. The 15.9 billion dollars spent on this vehicle system so far could have instead bought every resident of the U.S. Virgin islands (of driving age) a 2007 Ferrari F430.
Ohio Class Submarine - There must be something inherently expensive about naming things after states. The Ohio Class Nuclear Submarine, named after the lead vessel the USS Ohio, is a Trident II SSBN submarine class. What that means is these submarines, each staffed with a crew of 155 seamen (go ahead, laugh. We did), all contain their own nuclear reactor. This reactor, which we won’t describe, for fear you may build one in your mothers basement, has the capability to power the submarine, maintain life support systems, separate oxygen from water to produce viable air, and purify sea water for up to 100 years. What does this mean to you? Let us put it this way. If one of these babies leaves port, the amount of time it spends out at sea is limited only by the amount of food it can carry. If they had a few greenhouses and chickens on board, aside from smelling like shit, these subs could stay out at sea indefinitely. How much did each of these 18 vessels cost the U.S? Approximately 2 billion dollars each. The replacement cost for one of these babies? Double that. The total tab for these 18 submersible sausage-fests is right about 36 billion dollars. What could that money buy you? How about what could that money buy the continent of Africa? How about a double cheeseburger and water, every day, for every human on the continent, for a month?
Nimitz Class Aircraft Carrier – The Nimitz Class aircraft carrier, named not for the tree cat but for U.S. Navy Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, was originally commissioned for use on May 3, 1975. Like the Ohio Class subs, this class was given it’s name after the first ship was produced. Each subsequent ship, with the exception of the USS John C. Stennis and USS Carl Vinson, was named for a U.S. president. There were 10 of these hulking capital ships produced since 1975, each with it’s own nuclear reactor, again, like the Ohio Class submarines. The only difference is that these ships were not submersible, and did not need air production. Also, due to their enormous size (almost a quarter mile in length), they accommodate many more seamen, about 5,700 to be precise. These ships, hailed as icons symbolic of America’s status as a super-power, cost the tax payer approximately 4.5 billion dollars each, for a total fleet cost of 45 billion dollars. What could you do with that kind of money? That’s enough to buy every man, woman, child, and baby in the United States an iPod Nano.
B2-Spirit – The final item on our rundown today is the B2-Spirit bomber. This bomber, of which 21 exist, was not just any bomber. No, it’s a stealth bomber. These guys are the big lights in the night sky you see but don’t hear. That satellites and radar cannot detect. That cost 23 billion dollars in project planning and design. That’s right, before these black angels were ever produced, they cost 23 billion dollars.
In order to produce them, with inflation factored into today’s standards, each bomber would cost approximately 1.3 billion dollars to produce. There are still 20 in use today, and these bombers are highly classified, so the most we can say about them is that we’d love to roll up to a ladies house in one of those pimpin’ rides. Though with a 174 foot wingspan, it certainly wouldn’t fit in the driveway. So to crunch the numbers, 21 bombers, priced at 1.3 billion each, plus 23 billion dollars in design and planning, brings us to a figure of roughly 50.3 billion dollars. How much is that? Just about enough to buy Afghanistan, ending that war. It would also leave enough money left over to buy Honduras, and turn it into one giant Central American theme-park.