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By the numbers angle

I am a fan of approaching stories from a “By the numbers” angle. It’s a quick way to break out the impact of stories. Whether it’s a feature or a hard news piece, you can usually find some numbers that add instant wow factor.

This package in the NYTimes does a good job of breaking down just what the Iraq war is costing. The graphic in particular is reminiscent of those charts in first grade where you pasted the number of blocks together to make a certain amount.

So, if this article is right, if you pasted universal health care and pre-school for all 3 and 4 year olds, as well as increased homeland security, cancer research and immunizations for the world’s poor children, you’d end up with the same number of blocks annually ($200 billion) as the war in Iraq. Kind of startling.

I’m not judging the war in Iraq or its cost (both real and opportunity). I don’t necessarily agree with us being there, but we are there, and some of my friends are there serving proudly. However, you can’t help but be wowed by those numbers.

I’m impressed because this basic by the numbers approach managed to make me really care and see the impact of something that — for better or worse — I’ve honestly become quite immune to news about. It’s a reminder to step back sometimes and look at things from a different perspective.

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