Write your own editorial - Part 1

Feb. 21, 2002
Each February this column lists various dollar values collected from published sources during the previous year. Whatever amusement, amazement, irony, or idiocy you find in them is up to you.
Editorial CommentFebruary 7, 2002

All values are for domestic annual spending in 2000 or 2001, except as noted. Sources are not documented. The second installment will be in our February 21 issue.

Household personal debt owed by consumers: $7.3 trillion. Cost of health care in the United States: $1.5 trillion. Approximate total of money borrowed by telecom companies: $650 billion. Money spent in restaurants and bars: $258 billion. Worldwide sales of semiconductors: $200 billion. Money given to charities: $200 billion. Amount spent on advertising: $197 billion. Annual revenues of Wal-Mart: $191 billion. Federal spending for highway construction: $65 billion. Sales of soft drinks: $60 billion. Estimate of insurance company liabilities for the attack on the World Trade Center: $40 billion. Endowment of Harvard University as of June 2000: $19 billion. Money spent by anglers to travel to fishing spots: $15 billion. Value of merchandise stolen from stores by employees: $12 billion. Value of merchandise stolen from stores by shoplifters: $10 billion. Revenues of the personnel-recruitment industry: $9 billion. Sales of heating oil: $7 billion. Fees earned by Wall Street firms to raise money for telecom companies in the past six years: $7 billion. Exports of software from India: $6 billion.

Newsstand sales of magazines: $4.4 billion. Unpaid federal taxes owed by federal workers and retirees: $2.5 billion. Delta Air Lines payroll for pilots: $1.7 billion. Advertising spending by the Chrysler Group of DaimlerChrysler: $1.5 billion. Worldwide sales of Barbie dolls: $1.5 billion. Sales of comic books in the record-setting year of 1993: $1 billion. Sales of shoes, clothing, luggage, and other "branded" consumer goods by Caterpillar Inc.: $800 million. Money spent on TV ads in the top 75 markets by interest groups and political parties in the last presidential election: $250 million. Total prize money for golf's PGA Tour: $185 million. Ticket sales for the movie Harry Potter during the weekend of its premiere: $93 million. Cost to raise the sunken Russian submarine Kursk: $65 million. Box office sales of the movie Hannibal in its opening weekend: $58 million. Advertising budget for Air Force recruiting: $50 million. Ticket sales for Washington Redskins football games in 1999: $44 million. State of Ohio budget for consultants installing an improved computer system for tracking welfare recipients: $31 million. LTV Corp. payment to lawyers and consultants in the first four months of 2001 for bankruptcy proceedings: $5.7 million.

Spending on television ads by the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades to promote building and remodeling: $2 million. Amount the government spent to continue defending bomber Timothy McVeigh after his conviction: $1.3 million. Estimate of the earnings of Phil Mickelson's caddie on the PGA Tour in 2000: $400,000. Base pay of a captain flying 777s for Delta Air Lines: $232,300. Base pay of a captain flying 727s for Delta Air Lines: $165,000. Salary of members of the Presidential Cabinet: $157,000. Salary of the chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank: $157,000. Salaries of deputies or assistant secretaries working for members of the Presidential Cabinet: $141,300. Salary of Federal Reserve Bank governors: $141,300. Salary of an air-traffic controller who robbed banks to get additional spending money: $98,000.

Finally, Jane Fonda has given Harvard University $12.5 million to create a center to help girls and boys stop thinking they should act a certain way because of their gender.

- Ronald Khol, Editor

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