Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Election Cost: $4 Billion. What Could $4 Billion Have Bought?

The entire spending on the 2010 campaign season was estimated at $4 Billion.  That's a lot of money spent on accusations of being "out of touch," and "bending to the special interests."

(You can see the best, the worst and the funniest of what that $4 Billion paid for on Politics Daily.)

What else could you buy with $4 billion?  I was told there would be no math on this quiz.  Ok, let me see what I can find...

The U.S. could have its own bullet train service

You could buy 50 Boeing 737s.

You could have bought Marvel Comics

You could provide all of the bags that retailers give away each year

You could fund the smart grid initiative.

You could provide 1/3 of total donations to the Global Fund which has helped reduce mortality rates associated with AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis.

You could rebuild Haiti after the earthquake.

The Dallas Morning News says you could "run the city of Pittsburgh for two years. Buy every resident of Topeka a nice used car. Or treat each and every American to a Big Mac and fries."

or you could pay the Navy's phone bill.

I was prepared to do some nifty calculations using my calculator and typical prices for things.  Unfortunately, my calculator will not let me punch in a number as large as 4,000,000,000.  Anyone who has a better calculator than I, maybe you can come up with some things and post in the comments.

Instead let me tell you this.  Just from outside groups the 2010 midterm election  attracted $300 Million.  Sounds like a petty sum compared to $4 billion.  But according to ABC, $300 Million could buy:
The state of Michigan currently has the highest rate of unemployment in the nation at 9.6 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The unemployment office gives $300 in weekly benefits. So the $300 million is enough to pay unemployment compensation for 250,000 jobless Michigan residents for a whole month.

With in-state undergraduate tuition at the University of Florida totaling an average of $3,790 annually, nearly 20,000 students could have all four years at the university paid for with $300 million. The same amount of money would provide books and supplies for 78,125 in-state students at the average of $960 per year each.

So for those who want to jet to Switzerland to check on (or check out) their stash, Swiss Air, the country's national carrier, will jet you to Berne from New York in business class for just $9,402 roundtrip – luggage is no extra charge. With $300 million, in fact, 31,908 people could make the trip in style.

The annual budget for books in the Los Angeles Public Library system averages at around $7.7 million. That means that $300 million would put new books on the shelves in L.A. for 38 years.

But seriously, why would you want any of that stuff when you could have this?