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What’s the value of $5,169,462?

October 10, 2012

We all know that this election cycle is the most expensive in US history. Candidates, political parties and PACs are spending money like there was no tomorrow, with nearly $1.5 billion as the estimated amount that will be spent on the Presidential Election alone, according to the Center for Responsible Politics.

It’s hard to envision $1.5 billion, so lets bring the election money frenzy down to the state level and look at the amounts of money being spent on elections here.

In the race for the Michigan Senate seat, with incumbent Debbie Stabenow running against Republican challenger Pete Hoekstra, about $15.5 million has been raised so far. Hoekstra has raised $3,549,806, while Senator Stabenow has raised $12,061,883 in her bid to be re-elected.

Most of the money raised in larger races like these is spent on TV ads, where candidates sling mud and engage in either half-truths or out right lies in order to sway public opinion.

According to the Michigan Campaign Finance Network Senator Stabenow has already spent $5,169,462 on TV ads across the state, which includes ad buys between now and Election Day. Challenger Pete Hoekstra has spent a big fat zero on paid TV ads.

Now lets stop and think for a moment what the value of $5,169,462 might be in a city like Grand Rapids. $5,169,462 is certainly not enough to end the City of Grand Rapids financial woes, but it would be enough to re-hired dozens of workers who have lost jobs in recent years because of cut backs.

Think about the budgets of local non-profit organizations and how many could double their budgets if $5,169,462 was shared between them. How much more work could be done by groups like the Friends of Grand Rapids Parks, Bethany Refugee Services, Heartside Ministries, Baxter Community Center or the Hispanic Center of Western Michigan?

However, we could shift the conversation to re-direct the $5,169,462 directly to people who were in serious financial need for a variety of reasons. How many people could have health insurance with that money? How many people could put a down payment on a home? How many students could pay off loans with $5,169,462? The possibilities seem endless, yet when it comes to election no amount of money matters if the candidate we support gets elected. Apparently there will be a huge payoff in the end. But I ask you, when have we ever seen a huge payoff, especially for those most marginalized?

3 Comments leave one →
  1. hocus focus permalink
    October 10, 2012 5:17 pm

    Sorry if this duplicated, it didn’t go through earlier.

    But why advocate giving money to Bethany? They are a Christian anti-abortion group that partners with other sketchy groups like Focus on the Family. I also don’t think they let same-sex couples adopt.

    It doesn’t really matter though because the campaign ads could go away tomorrow and the money wouldn’t transfer to the things you recommend. And even if they did, I’m not so sure that strengthening the non-profit system, the state, and the education system (which like elections, prop up the same system that keeps us living in misery).

  2. October 10, 2012 5:25 pm

    so the idea of this amount of money ending up in the hands of working class people to pay for health insurance doesn’t work either. The point of the story was to say that the amount of money being spent on elections is absurd. However, unless I say smash the state it doesn’t matter to you, because you don’t like anything we post unless it advocates the smashing of the state. I believe, however, that if you can offer another perspective at times, with some imagination about what the money could be used for, it might get people to think beyond the existing system.

  3. Josh permalink
    October 15, 2012 10:17 am

    Does hocus have any suggestions as to what should be done with the money, or just criticism?

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