By Kevin Meyer
I've long known that face-to-face conversations can be very valuable, especially when you're trying to read emotion and inflection to convince others of your opinion. Or preferably listening and learning from other opinions. But there is a limit.
$1 billion dollars might be such a limit.
Canada's Conservative government said Thursday the nearly $1 billion it plans to spend on security at the G-8 and G-20 summits next month is worth it.
The Canadian government has budgeted up to $930 Canadian (US$885 million) for the summits. By comparison, the stated amount spent by Pittsburgh on security for last September's G-20 summit was US$12.4 million. London's stated amount for the G-20 last year was US$10.9 million.
Canadian officials could not account for the huge difference and the government has come under heavy criticism from opposition lawmakers over the huge cost.
Yes, really. One billion dollars for 72 hours of security. That could feed a lot of hungry protesters.
It could also pay for a lot of really cool video conferencing equipment. The HD-quality multiple-site system I use costs less than $10k per site. I've seen a demo of a slick system that converts an entire wall into a screen, with the conference table at one site appearing to connect to the conference table at the other site, for about $100k. That would leave $999,900,000 left over for some travel to visit some the other folks one-on-one. Even considerable Air Force One travel. Or feed hungry protesters.
The final kicker is that the G-20 are going to discuss the world's debt problems. Hmmm…