Traverse City Record-Eagle

Business

October 7, 2012

Fred Goldenberg: What 5.8 billion buys

The presidential candidates are on the road, they and their minions battling for the hearts and souls of the swing states. We, the electorate, now must endure a barrage of political chest pounding and posturing. Over the next month I suspect we will be treated to a spectacular road show that would put Barnum & Bailey to shame.

And cost millions and millions of dollars more than the Greatest Show on Earth ever spent.

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, the 2012 elections will cost approximately $5.8 billion, a 7 percent increase from the 2008 cost of $5.4 billion.

Between the campaigns, political parties, traditional third party groups and the new ones that have sprung up in the light of the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision, $2.2 billion has already been poured into the race and millions upon millions is being added every day.

It's a huge number: $5.8 billion. It will mean more and more "mudslinging" television commercials, more pop-up Internet ads, mailings, harassing robo phone calls and any other way politicians can think of to try and reach voters.

In fact, this number is so big that I had to break it down into "things" I could use or buy just to really comprehend the colossal purchasing power of $5,800,000,000. With that sum, in 2012 U.S. dollars, you could also:

n Buy 2,416 Bugatti Veyron Super Sports cars, the priciest street-legal production car on the market today;n Give away nearly 2 pounds of rice for every man, woman and child in Africa;n Acquire 8,682,635 shares of Apple Computer at current price;n Purchase 145 Gulfstream G550 private jets;n Reserve the Royal Penthouse Suite in Geneva's Hotel President Wilson — the world's most expensive hotel room at $65,000 per night — every day for more than 244 years;n Pay the annual salary of the U.S.A's Olympic basketball team for 23 years;n Pay the annual overhead for Rafalca, Mitt Romney's Olympic dressage-competing Oldenburg mare, for 75,324 years;n Buy the Obama's dog Bo 1,450,000,000 Air Kong squeaker Ball with Rope dog toys;n Buy 120,959,333 dozen Titleist Pro V1 golf balls;n Name a star after yourself, as well as naming one for 115,999,999 of your closest friends;n Purchase at Glen's Market 645,161,290 12 packs of Bud Light beer.

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