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November 07. 2012 3:16AM

Election spending: It is not as much as you think

The elections that were completed on Tuesday were the most expensive in the history of the United States, according to media reports. Before you wring your hands in worry for the future of the republic, take a deep breath and consider the alternative to millions of people spending millions of dollars on political discussions.

John Hudson of The Atlantic posted Tuesday that Americans spent $6 billion on this election, up $700 million from 2008, according to figures compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics. Six billion dollars is a lot of money. But it is a tiny sum to spend on electing people who run our governments, when you consider how much our governments spend.

Six billion dollars is $2 billion less than the federal government spends on Head Start in one year. It is $9 billion less than the federal government spends on job training programs annually. It is about $3.5 billion less than the federal government spends, all told, in a single day.

Some of the same people who say it's a shame that so many Americans are disengaged from politics also complain when Americans engage in politics by spending money to elect their preferred candidates. It is an irrational complaint. This year, the U.S. automobile industry is expected to spend $11.9 billion just to advertise vehicles online. Pepsi's expected advertising budget this year: $2.5 billion.

Why should we be upset that to choose the people who are empowered to govern them, Americans spend half what the U.S. auto industry spends in online advertising in one year?

Spending money on elections is the exercise of two constitutional rights: speech and assembly. What is scary is not that Americans are spending billions to exercise those rights, but that some people would prefer that the government stop it.


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