Dear Congress, Here are a few more ideas of what you could do with $10 Billion.

Hello Congress, and hello friends.

It’s time to talk about the wall.

Yes, that one.

I’ll spare you my thoughts on the political implications of a physical barrier for now (if you’re interested, you can read some of my thoughts on walls that I wrote after visiting the original Great Wall — you know, the real one that failed in its mission to keep people out and took years and lives and insane amounts of money to build — but that’s a topic for a later day) and instead focus on this pesky little number: Ten Billion Dollars.

Yes. That’s right. The estimated cost of a wall between Mexico and the US is currently $5-$10 Billion.

In 2015, that number was estimated to be in the range of $15-$25 Billion, so really I’m being pretty conservative with this guess.

And if this article is feeling at all familiar to you, it’s because I went through the same exercise a few months ago when I discovered that we were spending $5 Billion on the election.

I’ll say again what I said then: I’m not an economist or a political analyst. I know that budget setting and national and international decision making are assignments far above my pay grade. But I’m pretty good at googling. And from my initial internet research, I think we need to think carefully about this pile of money we are considering spending on a wall.

So, for starters, with $10,000,000,000 we could do everything on that initial list twice.

That means we could feed 50 million Americans for a month, send two million kids to school from kindergarten through high school, build 400,000 schools, or provide over four billion soup kitchen meals.

We could also:

  1. Eradicate Malaria.
  2. Solve the clean water crisis.
  3. Cover one third of the needed budget to end world hunger.
  4. Cover the annual needs of all Syrian refugees currently seeking asylum or resettled in Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt and Iraq, with about $5 billion to spare that could address some of the needs of the 6.6 million people internally displaced within Syria or the million who have sought asylum in other parts of Europe.
  5. Send almost all the primary school-aged children in sub-Saharan Africa who are currently not educated to school for a year (all 30,000,000 of them!)

You know, just a few small things.

Don’t forget, we could also house the entire US homeless population, send over a million people to college for a year, provide three years of universal access to contraception and family planning globally, fund TB eradication for a year, end polio, and/or cover the national GDPs of three poorest nations — Malawi, Burundi and the Central African Republic.

All that’s to say, ten billion dollars is a lot of money. It’s an amount of money that has power and the ability to radically change the lives of dozens, hundreds, thousands, or millions of lives.

It’s money that should be carefully, thoughtfully, intentionally spent.

And unlike those election dollars, we haven’t spent this money yet. We aren’t stuck. We can spend this money another way (or not at all, because, you know, national debt and all that…).

Let’s be smart, friends. Let’s be smart, Congress.

What do we really want to do with those ten billion dollars?