1. Molly, NYC says

    KC–The diamond-encrusted Victoria’s Secret lingerie sets presented to each of this year’s five Best Actress nominees are worth over $75000 USD

    That includes Judi Dench, folks.

    (BTW–I know the Millineum Project is underfunded, but can’t its supporters afford commas?)

  2. LJ says

    Those figures have great shock value but are a little misleading. Sure x dollars saves y children from Cholera, sounds great and gets the dollars rolling. But where is the money coming from to feed clothe educate etc that saved child? It is nowhere in those figures. The true cost has got to be vastly higher than that stated. Provide reproductive education and contraceptives and you may be addressing part of the problem in a long term sustainable way.

  3. dave says

    Shock value is intended, I think.

    But you’re right that basic infrastructure costs need to be met. However, a lot of the Millenium Development Goals directly address things like disease, and health, primarily because it is having such a disastrous effect and is ravaging the population to an enormous degree. Some feel that funding for infrastructure (and this is blunt) is for moot when entire communities/populations are literally destroyed by diseases like HIV, malaria, TB – disease that could be treated or at least made chronically bearable. This is a big part of Jeffrey Sach’s line of logic as the Director of the MDG.

    On the other side, keep in mind that things like civic sustainability, and primary education are also a big part of these initiatives.

    Sadly, it looks like folks are way off in the Millenium project, particularly from those who might have said otherwise during the G8 summit.

    On the same Terry website, there is a speech by Stephen Lewis. Apart from the dig against the US at the beginning, it’s really worth a listen – Mr. Lewis is an exemplary speaker, which is probablly why Kofi Aman made him the UN Special Envoy to the HIV Pandemic in Africa.

  4. SkookumPlanet says

    …and never read People magazine in quite the same light again.

    Are you saying I have to start reading People?

  5. KeithB says

    While we are at it, we can add:
    All the money spent at Starbucks.
    All the money spent for iPods, and replacing any computer less than 2 years old.

    Why pick on the Oscars?

  6. says

    It’s always a problem to point to wasteful and excessive spending in one narrow sector of society, because it’s everywhere. Heck, my day-to-day gripe is with just plain old packaging: look how much cardboard and plastic is wrapped around our food that we throw away, and that certainly adds up to a greater cost than the rare bits of diamond-studded lingerie out there.

    But there should still be a point where we can point to some kinds of absurdly wasteful profligacy and shame a few people.

  7. dave says

    Money does go to the strangest of places: David Orr recently gave a talk around my neck of the woods, and pointed out in a slide that in one hour on Earth . . .

    “1875 will die of malnutrition, 5 species will disappear, 1500 acres made into desert, 18,000 tons of topsoil eroded, 72 acres of rainforest lost, 970,310 tons of Carbon into atmosphere, the Pentagon will spend $50,400,000”

    Now there’s a debate in profligacy.

  8. lt.kizhe says

    But there should still be a point where we can point to some kinds of absurdly wasteful profligacy and shame a few people.

    …like the million-dollar, gold-plated dress, with 15kt diamond nipple, worn a few years back by the wife of local hi-tech mogul Michael Cowpland. I am not exagerating — that really is how much it was quoted as costing (US$ vs. CDN$ hardly matters). However, I think the Cowplands are beyond shame….

  9. NatureSelectedMe says

    I think it’s good to have these excesses. It means we’re a wealthy society. How many Oscar events can North Korea host?

  10. says

    In 1960 there were 3 billion people, many of them starving. We had the green revolution and can now produce enough food to feed twice as many people–and many of them are starving. I guess that’s progress.

  11. Frumious B. says

    You know, the Cinderella shoes (whatever those are) and the diamond encrusted lingerie are only worth those amounts of money b/c someone is willing to pay that much for them. That’s the true waste.

  12. NatureSelectedMe says

    That quote from David Orr reminds me of another quote:
    “A Puritan is a person with a terrible fear that someone, somewhere is having a good time.” I don’t know why.

  13. Graculus says

    A healthy population can start to look after it’s own infrastructures.

    Europe didn’t do so well during the Black Death, either.

  14. Nick says

    Nature select, you quoted HL Mencken, and he would spit in your face for taking it out of context like that, if he were alive today. He was socially conscious and thought America indulged in inappropriate excess far too much as distraction. The Puritan comment was his reaction to the ignorance of faith-based initiatives like, I don’t know, the criminalization the teaching of Evolution, and the right-wing drumbeating of “moral” and “traditional” values.
    Yes, there are far worse things to do with money than Lavish, self-contradulatory lovefests, (military-industrial complex, anyone?), but the point is that even this kind of excess is nauseating.

  15. John C. Randolph says

    I’m just wondering.. For seventy-five grand, how goons can you hire for a day to smack self-righteous gits upside the head?


  16. NatureSelectedMe says

    Nick, so that was HL Mencken I was quoting. I can never be sure with internet sources. He’s a great one for quotes.
    You don’t see the analogy? What’s the difference between drumbeating “moral” and “traditional” values and extreme environmentalism? I see none.

  17. Harry Eagar says

    The economy that produces the Oscars also produces people who can write their names and who do not suffer from diseases that are easily controlled by vaccination.

    It’s part of a package.

    It’s the other kind of economy, the one without surplus, that produces starving, diseased illiterates.

    How much has Terry contributed to eliminating, say, malaria, compared with Bill Gates? And those Keck oil millionaires? Scandalous the way they spent $200 million on telescopes to look at boring stars when they could have been buying protein bars for Somalia.

    The original article, the professor’s post and 18 of 20 comments demonstrate why nobody in his right mind looks to liberals for economic ideas.

  18. Anupam Singhal says

    A response for Harry:

    Terry is a website designed to encourage discussion about global issues; on this note, it appears that our piece has been successful. Terry’s mandate is not to eliminate malaria nor to compete with Bill Gates. In fact, the point you made regarding Bill Gates’ contributions to malaria research supports our thesis that we can address the most pressing global issues if we dedicate the proper resources to them. (I would like to also note that while Bill Gates may fund the research necessary to find a cure to malaria, the real credit should and will ultimately fall on the scientists who find a cure and health care workers who will be in the field medicating afflicted individuals. Bill’s role is necessary but insufficient.)

    As for the state of the economy, our piece does not suggest that our economy has no benefits. I personally believe it is a gross oversimplification to say that we have to accept poverty or illiteracy in order to reap these benefits. There is nothing inherently built into our capitalistic society that deems that a third of the world’s population must live without access to potable water; the question is whether we choose to act on this knowledge or not.

    Finally, I think you should seek to understand a person’s philosophy before categorizing them into a pretty narrow political spectrum. Our piece does not endorse any particular economic philosophy and, indeed, the members of the editorial team of Terry have yet to share their political beliefs with each other.

  19. Harry Eagar says

    If you ever decide to share, let me know first and I’ll write them out and seal them in an envelope, and we’ll see how close I got.

    I don’t care, however, to understand your philosophy, because I already understand your economics. Better economists than you, Fernand Braudel for example, have gone to a lot of trouble to explain why you have to have luxury trades in order to have a modern economy.

    And there is something built into our capitalistic society that says that 12% (the correct figure, one-third is a hoax) of the world’s people have to be poor. They’re poor because they reject capitalism.

    Money won’t make this mare go. Gates’ money and the cleverness of western researchers aren’t going to help anyone if the mad mullahs decide a malaria cure is a plot against their religion. Counted any cases of polio lately? Want to try blaming them on capitalism?

    Anyhow, I could have been more forthright. I could have said that as long as one child goes to sleep at night cold and hungry, it is a scandal that Professor Myers is raiding the fisc to feed zebrafish in heated tanks in the winter in Minnesota.

    But that would have been snarky.