Matters of Scale - Paying a Price for Democracy

bullet
Amount bid (as of August 25) on the Internet auction eBay for the vote of one U.S. citizen who had put his ballot up for sale to protest corporate influence in politics
more than $10,000
Amount that the American Gas Association, the National Mining Association, the Nuclear Energy Institute, and other business concerns paid to sponsor "America's Energy Texas Barbecue," a party for delegates at a U.S. political convention in August
more than $100,000
bullet
Turnout of East Timor's 439,000 registered voters for the nation's independence referendum last year, despite months of intimidation and threats of genocidal retaliation from pro-Indonesia militias
98.6 percent
Turnout of U.S. citizens of voting age for the 1998 Congressional elections
36.0 percent
bullet
Amount of money oil companies have "cheated" the U.S. government out of since 1991 by undervaluing the worth of oil they've pumped from federal lands
$2,000,000,000
Amount of money oil companies donated between 1987 and 1998 to U.S. Senator Phil Gramm of Texas, who has voted successfully three years running against enforcing fair oil royalties
$200,000
bullet
Number of people who watched the final episode of the U.S. television series "Survivor"
51.0 million51.0 million
Number of people who voted for U.S. President Bill Clinton in the 1996 elections
47.5 million
bullet
Share of the 69 million registered U.S. voters who, among other reasons, didn't cast ballots in 1998 because:
they forgot -> 5 percent
they didn't like the candidates -> 5 percent
they were not interested -> 13 percent
they were too busy -> 35 percent
bullet
Sources: Richard Stegner, “Constituent Puts Vote Up for Sale on eBay,” <CNN.com>, 16 August 2000; Common Cause, “ Schmooze or Loose 2000,” <www.commoncause.org>; Geoff Spencer, “Militias Besiege UN in East Timor,” Associated Press, 8 September 2000; United Nations Development Programme, Human Development Report 2000, (New York: Oxford University Press, 2000), p. 243–46; Federal Election Commission, <www.fec.gov/pages/reg&to98.htm>; Common Cause, “ Some Like it Hot,” <www.commoncause.org>, 1999; Common Cause, “Drilling for Bargains,” <www.commoncause.org>, 1998; League of Conservation Voters, <www.lcv.org>; CNN.com, “Nielsen Ratings Show more than 50 Million Watched Finale,” <www.cnn.com/2000/showbiz/tv/08/24/survivorfinale.ap/>, 24 August 2000; Jennifer Day and Avalaura Gaither, “ Voting and Registration in the Election of November 1998,” U.S. Census Bureau, 2000.