Saturday, October 20, 2012

Is the Election Over Yet?

So my latest teaching-an-old-dog- new-digital-tricks exercise is Tumblr.

Sort of a combination of blogs and Facebook as best I can figure out, its free, like most services.

So I decided to try it out and have been posting my blog there as well as here.

But now for a little reverse.

Below is something that came across my Tumblr feed which I found kind of thought-provoking.

I am not as familiar with Tumblr as I am with the other platforms, so I can't vouch for the accuracy and certainly not the math.

But even if the numbers aren't right, I think you get the idea.

Have a look:

In just 16 days, outside spending groups (like super PACs, various breeds of nonprofits) spent $212.8 million on political ads, starting Oct. 1.

As Politico’s Dave Levinthal points out, that’s enough to buy every person living in Flint, Mich., or Green Bay Wis., a “high-end” LED flat screen TV.

That got us thinking, and playing with Wolfphram Alpha, what else could 16 days worth of political ads buy?

(Arranged in order from serious, to decidedly less serious.)
  • 1,363 packs of ramen noodles ($334.58 worth) for each homeless person in the U.S. (using 2011 stats).
  • Four years’ tuition and board at Harvard University for 976 students.
  • A full tank of gas for 5,728,129 cars (using national average of $3.71, and assuming a 10-gal. tank).
  • A year’s salary for 3,795 full-time, public school teachers (using U.S. average).
  • The 2012 season salary for every active player on the New York Yankees — plus Derek Jeter and Joe Girardi — with roughly $3 million to spare.
  • First of all, a $32,000 fixed-gear bicycle existsbut even for that price, you could buy 6,650 of ‘em.
  • A binder (like this) for every woman living in the state of California.
  • One of these giant gummy bears on stick for every child 4-years-old and under in the U.S.
  • 5,600,000 shares of Facebook stock when company first went public … or 11,211,801 shares today (stock value is $18.98 now, $38.00 at IPO).
All of which is to say, even for a political junkie like me, I've about had it. Thank God we don't live in Ohio, Florida, Wisconsin or Virginia, I can only manage the hazards waiting when you turn on your television there.
Thanks a lot Supreme Court.

It is also to say that this is what we get when the U.S. Supreme Court says money is speech. Now even though  I disagree with the results of that decision, I do see the legal rationale.

I think we might all be able to withstand this barrage a little more if people had to be accountable for what they bought and have the names attached to the ad. No more "dark money."

But given that the only people who can fix the problem right now belong to a group of largely useless yahoos called the U.S. Congress, I'm not holding my breath.

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