Osama Bin Laden and Cost-Benefit Analsis

Suppose you are a home owner and some punk decided it would be a fun time to throw stones through all of your windows. Also, suppose the cost of hunting this criminal down through private investigators, as well as the cost of lawyers and court fees were all yours to burden (no help from the tax payer). Lastly, suppose you know that even if you did capture this criminal he would never be able to reimburse you for the windows. What would you do? Would you bare the cost of such a hunt or would you take the losses and move on? Most would do a cost benefit analysis and choose the latter of the two options.

Our government, of course, chose the first option in the hunt for Osama Bin Laden. Though the analogy is not perfect (there was a cheaper method our government could have chosen—letters of marque, not to mention the fact that in the analogy the home owner didn’t appear to antagonize the criminal), but it points out how our government does a terrible job at making cost-benefit analysis. Not only was it a bad cost-benefit analysis in regards to money wasted (~$5 Trillion spent in direct and indirect military actions), even more importantly it was a terrible cost-benefit analysis in regards to human lives. OBL kills ~3000 American on 9/11, our governments response to those deaths…~6000 more dead Americans and over a million innocent Iraqi, Afghani , Pakistani, and Yemen civilian deaths, not to mention tens of thousands of seriously injured Americans and innocent civilians.

Such a response by our government is not surprising, but the inability for the American people to not see through this policy of stupidity carried on by the past two regimes is frightening. Our job is supposed to be to watch the government and ensure our “representatives” don’t make these types of ignorant decisions, or at least not continue them for 10 years, or worse, permanently, as they are currently debating over!

Government needs to stop overreacting and begin doing a cost-benefit analysis before implementing any policy, and we as the citizen must not let their, or our own, emotions get the best of us. It will certainly save us money, and possibly even lives.

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