I performed my civic duty this morning, and went to vote. And, as I was waiting in line to be checked in, processed, and handed my ballot, I had a few minutes to think. One question popped in my head – how much is voting costing the American public, you and I?
I don’t want to get into the hard costs of how much it costs to set up the voting centers, to hire the pollsters, to print the ballots, or to count all of the votes. And I don’t want to get into a discussion of the value of democracy. There’s a ton of value in democracy – but it’s very hard to quantify. Especially, if you have as few resources as I did while standing in line to vote.
Let’s talk about the soft costs – what if all of us who voted decided to do something more productive instead of voting. Let’s do the math. Assume that about 30% of the population voted, or 100 million people to make the math easier. (Keep in mind that I was doing this in my head while standing in line at 7am this morning.) Assume each person spent 30 minutes as a part of the voting process. 30 minutes to get from my house to the voting site, to get my ballot, to fill it out, and to submit it is probably a little conservative. But, again, it makes the math easier. (It took me close to 45 minutes, and I live a block away from my polling place.) And, assume that we can each earn about $30 an hour for our work. (On the one side, we have those earning minimum wage that are earning a little less per hour. But, on the flip side you have guys like Bill Gates that earn a little more. Once again, this just makes the math easier.) So here’s the math:
100 million people x 0.5 hours (30 minutes) x $30 per hour = $1.5 billion
Given my assumptions, and assuming my math is correct, we who voted just REDUCED the gross domestic product (GDP) of the United States by $1.5 BILLION! I implore you – check my math, change my assumptions. But, I bet you will come up with a value that somewhere in the same ballpark. The point isn’t really the exact number; the point is that it’s a BIG A__ NUMBER!
So, for whoever is sitting in the Oval Office on January 21st, 2013, just a reminder that you owe the American Public $1.5 billion over the next 4 years. We’ll be reasonable; you won’t have to pay it back all at once. I’ll even break it down into more manageable chunks for you.
Per year, you owe the American People = $375 million
Per month, you owe the American People = $30.5 million
Per day, you owe the American People = $1 million
(Mr. President from January 21st, 2013 – don’t worry about paying us back for the debates. That one’s on us. Let’s face it, we were posting to our wall and tweeting while you were talking. But just in case you were curious, here’s the math:
60 million people x 1.5 hours per debate x 3 debates x $30 per hour = $8.1 billion
Just remember, you owe us one.)