Friday, November 9, 2012

The $6-Billion Bargain

First today, a Fun Fact:  According to the Wesleyen Media Project, all of the TV stations in Wisconsin aired an average of 1,615 ads pertaining to the Presidential or US Senate election EVERY DAY the last two months of the campaign.  That number does not include ads run for House of Representative races or any of the Legislative contest that were shoehorned in around the federal race ads.

According to our friend Mike McCabe of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, SIX BILLION DOLLARS were spent on the Presidential and Congressional campaigns this year.  That easily sets a new record--and leading to howls of protest over how much is "wasted" on trying to convince citizens to vote in a certain way.  In fact, Mike no longer calls them "elections", but rather "auctions"--believing political power is going to the highest bidder.

But when you look closer at the numbers, you see that $6-Billion really isn't that much.  Consider that elected officials are in charge of the $3.8-TRILLION budget.  That means that what was spent on the campaigns represents LESS THAN 0.2% of the money that will be coming out of Washington next year.  And when you consider that the average term in office for Federal lawmakers is four years, that means control of $15.2-TRILLION was at stake on Tuesday.  That reduces the "cost" of the campaign to less than 0.04% of the potential payoff.  AND since there were two sides spending that campaign cash, the individual investment is cut in half to 0.02%.  

And we haven't even touched on the money at play outside of Washington.  Laws and policies set in Congress and the White House have huge impacts on private sector revenues as well.  How much money would Exxon make if more Federal lands were opened to oil and natural gas drilling?  And AARP stands to make a cool Billion dollars a year as changes to Medicare under the Affordable Care Act drive more people to Medi-Gap programs--which AARP just happens to provide!  

Now, if your financial planner called you tomorrow and said that he had an investment available to you that would possibly give you at least a 5,067% return on your money what would you do?  You would give serious thought to getting as much money in there as possible.

With apologies to Mike McCabe, elections aren't "auctions", they are now lotteries--with gigantic payoffs for relatively small investments.  And with a 50% chance of winning--the odds of picking a winning candidate are a whole hell of a lot better than picking the winning Powerball numbers.

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