Wednesday, April 9, 2008


In “The Costs of Autism,” Professor Michael Ganz estimates the burden of autism on the United States economy to be around $35 billion per year.

But of course with both a reported epidemic and inflation running amok, surely it would not be asking too much to double this amount, in order to keep the number somewhat up to date. And furthermore, the U.S. is just one country—a populous and expensive country, it is true, but just one country nonetheless—and thus we will not be stretching the figure too greatly to apply an additional factor of ten when arriving at a more worldly estimate. And finally, as my own personal touch—for rounding sake, if nothing else—let’s nudge the total to a full one trillion dollars per year; for when it comes to this side of the balance sheet, I think it only prudent we not appear too stingy.

Then let’s consider a simple list of individuals—a partial list, it is true, but on this side of the balance sheet there is no need to be too greedy: Newton, Socrates, Darwin, Michelangelo, Luther, Archimedes, Van Gogh, Dostoyevsky, Kierkegaard, Beethoven, Einstein, Turing. It has been well documented the amount of compensation these individuals received for their various efforts, an amount generally understood to be quite modest.

So if we are going to insist on a settling of accounts, and the agreement is that the autistic burden runs to a full one trillion dollars per year, then I think an obvious question still remains: when does the autistic population receive the remainder of what is due?

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