Write your own editorial - Part 1

Feb. 11, 1999
In two issues early in the year, we publish a list of dollar values collected throughout the previous year. It is up to you to discover whatever amazement,humor, or irony they evoke.
Ronald Khol

February 11, 1999

All values are for annual spending in the U.S., mostly for either 1997 or 1998. I don't document my sources, so don't ask where I got any of the numbers. The second installment will be in our March 11 issue.

Adjusted 1995 gross income of everyone in the U.S.: $4.2 trillion. Spending on health care in the U.S.: $1.1 trillion. Worldwide sales of automobile parts: $600 billion. Legal bets placed in 1996: $586 billion. Credit-card debt: $452 billion. Medicare payments to doctors and health-care institutions:$177 billion. Corporate spending on air travel: $160 billion. Spending by homeowners for remodeling: $120 billion. Charitable donations made by individuals: $109 billion. Sales of prescription drugs in retail pharmacies: $102 billion.

Sales of carbonated soft drinks: $54 billion. Financial aid given to college students in 1996: $52 billion. Estimate of all gambling revenue: $27 billion. Federal spending on highways in 1996: $22 billion. Global sales of athletic shoes: $16 billion. Sales of lottery tickets: $16 billion. Revenues of the car-rental business: $16 billion. Sales of engineering computer workstations: $16 billion. Money put into slot machines: $16 billion. Sales of women's intimate apparel: $11 billion. Estimated value of cargo thefts: $10 billion.

Revenues of funeral homes and other business associated with death: $7 billion. Profits of Ford Motor Co. in 1997 $6.9 billion. Sales of women's cosmetics: $5 billion. Spending by college students on alcoholic beverages: $5 billion. Annual sales of Mattel Inc.: $5 billion. Estimate of money bet on each Super Bowl: $4.5 billion. Sales of bottled water: $4 billion. Money spent to ride snowmobiles: $4 billion. Sales of toilet paper: $3.5 billion. Annual revenue of the National Football League: $3.4 billion.

Cost to the government of defaulted student loans in 1996: $2.8 billion. Corporate contributions to higher education in 1996: $2.8 billion. Spending on articles bearing the names or logos of colleges and universities: $2.5 billion. Anticipated annual sales of drugs for treating male impotence: $2.5 billion. Annual television revenue of the National Football League $2.2 billion. Sales of toothpaste: $2 billion. Sales of prescription painkillers: $1.9 billion. Cost to Ford Motor Co. of the employee medical plan: $1.5 billion. Sales of Lego toys: $1.3 billion.

Revenues of the Sears Roebuck & Co. home-improvement unit: $1.3 billion. Estimate of the capital gains tax paid by Bill Gates and Paul Allen from their sales of Microsoft stock: $1.3 billion. Money spent to lobby Congress, the White House, and federal bureaucrats: $1.2 billion. Liability claims paid by insurance companies for dog bites: $1 billion. Sales of Charmin toilet paper: $1 billion.

Price ABC paid for the rights to broadcast Monday Night Football: $550 million. Spending on advertising by McDonald's fast-food chain: $500 million. Sales of school yearbooks: $500 million. Spending on road salt: $479 million. Estimate of annual winnings of Las Vegas casinos from baccarat players: $400 million. Spending on doctor and hospital fees for circumcisions: $400 million. Approximate amount Volkswagen spends on advertising in the U.S.: $100 million. Spending to promote the introduction of Kleenex Cottonelle toilet paper: $100 million.

Finally, the first person diagnosed as having Alzheimer's disease died in 1906. Later, nobody could remember what happened to her medical file, but it finally surfaced in 1995 after having been mislaid among a stack of papers for 89 years.

Ronald Khol

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