Machine Design

Write your own editorial -- Part 1

As is our custom, the February editorials list dollar values for the sales, income, or spending of various institutions, corporations, and individuals. It is up to you to find whatever amusement, amazement, or irony you can. The values are all from published sources, but are not documented in my tally.

Total net worth of all households in the U.S.: $40 trillion. The market value of all corporations in the U.S.: $10 trillion. Total value of all home mortgages in the U.S.: $5.6 trillion. Money held in 401(k) plans: $1.5 trillion. Purchases charged to credit cards in 2001: $1.29 trillion. Pension obligations of 360 top companies in the Standard & Poor's stock index: $1.15 trillion. Spending nationwide on public elementary and secondary schools: $400 billion. Debt being carried on credit cards at the end of 2001: $400 billion. Pension-fund shortfalls of the 360 top companies in Standard & Poor's stock index: $243 billion. Sales of Wal-Mart Stores Inc.: $220 billion. Sales of Exxon Mobil Corp.: $212 billion. Sales of General Motors Corp.: $177 billion. Sales of Ford Motor Co.: $162 billion. Deficit of the federal government in fiscal 2002: $159 billion. Food bought in restaurants: $143 billion. Sales of General Electric Co.: $126 billion.

Cost to New York City for the 9-11 attack: $95 billion. Financial aid to college students: $90 billion. Amount Americans spend on gambling: $63.3 billion. Amount spent annually on weddings: $60 billion. Net worth of Bill Gates: $43 billion. Debt of bankrupt WorldCom Inc.: $42 billion. Total net income earned on farms: $40 billion. Global sales of recorded music: $37 billion. Annual sales of PepsiCo.: $26.9 billion. Sales of automotive aftermarket performance parts and accessories: $26 billion. Federal government spending to run its regulatory agencies in 2002: $25 billion. Spending on cosmetics and beauty products by women 16 to 24 years old: $24 billion. Spending by teenagers to decorate their bedrooms: $17 billion. Sales of antidepressants in the U.S.: $12.2 billion. Federal aid to the airline industry since the WTC attack: $11 billion. Cost of building new runways at the nation's 18 largest airports: $10 billion. Public-school spending by New York City: $10 billion. Estimated net worth of comic-strip character Daddy Warbucks: $10 billion.

Spending on high-fashion clothing by men age 18 to 24: $9.2 billion. Money spent to buy movie tickets in 2001: $8.4 billion. Estimated net worth of ScroogeMcDuck: $8.2 billion. Worldwide sales of condoms: $4 billion. Sales of Pooh merchandise by the Walt Disney Co.: $4.5 billion. Annual spending by Hollywood to advertise movies: $3 billion. Sales of paper towels: $3 billion. Health-care spending by General Electric Co. for employees and retirees: $1.4 billion. Spending for political ads on television for last November's election: $900 million. National Basketball Association income from television: $700 million. Money spent by hotel guests for in-room pornographic movies: $500 million. Collective loss of all major-league baseball teams: $500 million.

Spending by drug companies to convince the public to take drugs to relieve anxiety, depression, and related illnesses: $184 million. Spending on advertising to promote MasterCard credit cards: $150 million. Money earned by pay-per-view from the Lewis-Tyson heavyweight fight: $103 million. Sales of table salt: $100 million. U.S. Postal Service spending for advertising: $100 million. Federal subsidies to poor people to pay for air conditioning: $100 million. Spending on advertising for Revlon cosmetics: $90 million. Spending by the U. S. Department of Agriculture's "the other white meat" pork promotion program: $54 million. Fees for lawyers and consultants handling the LTV bankruptcy in 2001: $38 million. Spending on consumer advertising to induce people to take Prozac: $31 million. Legal fees for Arthur Andersen stemming from the Enron debacle: $30 million. Spending for lobbying and political contributions by airlines for 20 months preceding August 2002: $27 million.

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