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The Reporters: US mid-terms

James Westhead

Scary spending


A figure I came across tonight suddenly put American spending on elections into a frightening context. We Brits tend to think US politicians raise and spend a scarily absurd amount to get themselves elected. In an earlier blog I mentioned the total had reached more than $1bn for both Republicans and Democrats combined on these
mid-terms. A lot to obtain a satisfactory result on 7 November. Well perhaps not.

halloween_getty203b.jpgGuess how much Americans will spend exactly a week earlier on an equally horrible occasion populated by some equally scary characters. Yes you guessed it - I'm talking about Halloween. Well, according to the National Retail Foundation, Americans will spend more than $4.95bn - yes billion - on costumes, candy, cards and decorations -that's five times more than they spend on democracy. Now that really is scary!

James Westhead is a Washington correspondent for BBC News.

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  • 1.
  • At 01:22 PM on 21 Oct 2006,
  • Christine Task wrote:

population US: 300,000,000
population UK: 60,000,000
populaiton EU: 457,000,000

just in case anyone was wondering :-).

US is about 2/3 the size of the entire EU. And we pay western world prices for things. Everything we do on a per capita basis is going to be huge...

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money spent on get well cards rivals that given to medical research.

So spending on Halloween is not surprisingly more than that spent on the more dreary and truly scary state of US politics.

The other frightening aspect of this as campaign spending rises voter turnout does not, and sometimes diminishes the return. Go figure!

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  • 3.
  • At 02:19 PM on 21 Oct 2006,
  • Stephen wrote:

It is silly to argue that, on Halloween, Americans "spend five times more than they spend on democracy." Consider that campaign budgets are privately assembled, and that American politicians employs a useful tool of democracy called 'taxes' to come up with the other several trillion dollars of their budget.

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  • 4.
  • At 02:39 PM on 21 Oct 2006,
  • P. Goodman wrote:

What's really scary is that a naton of people who go sprinting out to buy their football club's new, outrageously overpriced jersey every year would deem it alright to condescend how others spend their money.

Come on BBC, if I want fluff pieces, I'll read my own country's news.

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  • 5.
  • At 02:51 PM on 21 Oct 2006,
  • sean wrote:

it not that scary! if you spend more $$$ you can make a real difference in your Halloween celebration. Whereas your vote, can only help decide the lesser of two evils.

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It is a sad reflection upon the fact that in many Western countries, especially the United States, materialism is so prominent. Citizens of a country will spend billions on shallow and ridiculous material things, instead of using it responsibly to aid the leader of their choice. Ignorance is the enemy of democracy, liberty, and equality.

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  • 7.
  • At 03:28 PM on 21 Oct 2006,
  • Fuyo_Yanagi wrote:

Facinating! The number one billion seems HUGE and a VAST amount to spend on this sort of thing... until, as you have done, it is compared to something more mundane!

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  • 8.
  • At 03:31 PM on 21 Oct 2006,
  • Dawn Osborne-Dunn wrote:

Perhaps that is because democracy is BORING and Hallowe'en is good fun. everybody needs fun! and it's their money so let them do what they want. Whydo people have this need to complain about how much other people are spending. is it so "scary"? Get a grip

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  • 9.
  • At 03:47 PM on 21 Oct 2006,
  • Alena wrote:

Yes its very scary! Especially how we Americans enjoy buying these crazy things! Infact tomorrow a Friend and I are going Halloween shopping for a Halloween Party!
Very scary! ;)

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  • 10.
  • At 03:51 PM on 21 Oct 2006,
  • Eugene wrote:

Listen, friends. If you were over here and had to live the day to day under this presidency, you'd want to manifest your despair in a night of masked revelry too.

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  • 11.
  • At 04:16 PM on 21 Oct 2006,
  • Jane Morton wrote:

In Northern American (I live in Vancouver, Canada) there seems to be a real separation of what is going on in politics and the ordinary people in the street. The media come across as a giant marketing machine (TV, newspaper and the internet) selling and occupying every single available space (mental and physical) show such as extreme make over, promote plastic surgery as a viable life changing options for everyone who don't have a dental plan. it would be interesting to have the figure to see how many people are without any form of health insurance and how much people spent on plastic surgery. Just to put in a context there seems to one set of people running the country and interfering in the world's affairs (very much like the Japanese militarist in Japan in the first and second world war) and another who is happily obliged the role of consumer perfuming their “destined” ritual and not to question status quote…most of the time the media is
Brought by the advertiser. (they actually will
Do the advisement as well as carry a role as a news
Caster! – this is true in vancouver – many people in
Europe have no idea how bad things are in Northern
America.
(This is just my humble opinion)

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  • 12.
  • At 04:19 PM on 21 Oct 2006,
  • Eliza wrote:

That's not the worst of it. Keep looking around the National Retail Foundation and find out how much we spend on other holidays, or the ridiculous amount we spend on "coming of age" parties and weddings. Just like all of those occasions, elections have become a free-for-all on who can have a bigger party, offer more incentives, and cast a more affluent and religious image.

There is something wrong with a society that doesn't give thought to the price of their living, where products and services come from, or the underlying purpose behind that availability and whether it is sustainable and ethical. America has become a society of consumer drones, and to my dismay, I am one of them. I don't believe this is a democracy. It feels more like Capitalism has become our form of government, and saying we are a Democracy is just another way to clean up our image.

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  • 13.
  • At 04:21 PM on 21 Oct 2006,
  • Andy Barnes wrote:

I'm not a typical flag-waving American, but I hardly think the comment, "that's five times more than they spend on democracy," is fair. First of all, the $1B spent on the elections isn't spent on democracy, it is spent on grabbing power domestically. One might more aptly say this sum is spent on plutocracy or better yet ochlocracy, as the money is spent by the wealthy to incite the mob. Secondly, the $5B spent on Halloween is spent by tens or hundreds of millions of Americans, whereas the $1B spent on domestic power grabs is spent only by a few hundred thousand individuals, PACs, and political parties. The per capita expenditures for Halloween is likely 50-100 times less than that for the democratic power grab, when properly comparing the populations.

To put this in further perspective, $1B is the amount America spends each week in Iraq, which some may argue is spent on fomenting democracy, others that it is another form of power grab.

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  • 14.
  • At 04:36 PM on 21 Oct 2006,
  • Mike P wrote:

A billion dollars sounds like a lot but really isn't when spread out over a population of 300 million people. A little over $3 per capita to (hopefully) toss out the Republicans sounds like a bargain to me!

Mike P
West Hollywood, CA

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Dear Mr. Westhead
You are right about America’s grotesque political campaign spending. There is no question that the U.S. political system is broken. Washington politicians are thoroughly corrupt, bought and paid for by corporations, fanatical turbo-Christians and other ideological special interest groups. This is a shameful embarresment.

Why are you picking on Halloween as “an equally horrible occasion”? Really? As a former “Trick-or-Treater” I wish to offer an American perspective.

Halloween has become a uniquely American tradition devoted entirely to the celebration of imagination and creativity. (Druid history is outside the scope and time frame of this response.)

Given the stress of life, most Americans welcome our national day devoted to silly fun and acting out. Halloween conveys to our children, the value we Americans have always placed on imagination and creativity. These values have contributed mightily to several centuries of American technical innovations, scientific discoveries and artistic excellence.

Most importantly, Halloween is a National event. It is not the exclusive property any particular religion or ethnic group. Therefore, no children have to feel excluded.

America has been multicultural long before it became fashionable. It is our reason for being and we make room for the national traditions of all. So give us our Halloween. In any comparisons of Halloween and American politics, please keep in mind that its “equally scary characters” as you refer to them, are ONLY MAKE BELIEVE. The monsters in Washington are REAL!

“Boo” and Happy Guy Fawkes Night,
John Cregar
North Plainfield, New Jersey

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  • 16.
  • At 04:52 PM on 21 Oct 2006,
  • moi wrote:

*YAWN* You really put your education to good use writing this article.

Your mum must be proud.

ANYTHING derogatory about the U.S. is all good to you eh?


It's OUR money, not the U.S. governments money. We work for it, we can spend it as we wish.

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  • 17.
  • At 05:04 PM on 21 Oct 2006,
  • Michael wrote:

This is true... the perception that American campaigns raise and spend inordinate amounts of money is a subject also discussed in Levitt and Dubner's famed book freakonomics, it says that when you actually do the math the average american spends the same amount of money on elections as they do on chewing gum anually - its just that theres a lot of people to get money from in the US.

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  • 18.
  • At 05:06 PM on 21 Oct 2006,
  • Christine wrote:

"that's five times more than they spend on democracy."

Why should we spend a lot of money on something that is really only an illusion? But seriously, I've been watching freedom disappear from my country (and yours) my entire life. The ironic part of that is those who claim to espouse freedom the loudest are those who do the most to take it away. Smile for the camera, love!

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Perception is more important than reality. We Americans also spend $9.4B on cosmetic surgery. Pretending to be scary or attractive is apparently more import than global warming or a sustainable energy future, etc.

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  • 20.
  • At 05:15 PM on 21 Oct 2006,
  • The Duke of Edinburgh wrote:

Campaigners, not necessarily voters, spend money to get their "message" out to the people. Knowing the issues doesn't cost the American people a dime, just a little time. To say that Americans spend 4 or 5 times as much on Halloween vs. Democracy is an erroneous statement. Campaigning does not equal democracy--there are numerous additional endeavors that entail the democratic process. Good try at rhetoric though.

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  • 21.
  • At 05:17 PM on 21 Oct 2006,
  • Morgaine wrote:

It is indeed true that Hallowe'en has become over commercialized and focused on one aspect of the holiday. So has Christmas, but I doubt you would label it a "horrible occasion". People tend to forget or to ignore that Hallowe'en (Hallowed evening or All Hallows Eve)is just as much a religious holiday as Christmas.

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  • 22.
  • At 05:18 PM on 21 Oct 2006,
  • Seth McNayr wrote:

"equally horrible occasion" ? how can you call it that? the vast majority of Americans love this holiday,myself included.

"that's five times more than they spend on democracy." maybe it's different in the UK,but here politicians have to raise their own money money for their campaigns, the Amcerican consumers dont pay for it.

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  • 23.
  • At 05:29 PM on 21 Oct 2006,
  • Donald wrote:

Halloween spending may be a ton of silly money, more akin to a holiday splurge, but what is the comparable amount for the U.K. elections? It would be lovely to see what Brits "pay for democracy"; if that is how silly money for election campaigns can be defined. In any event, Halloween candy, cards, and costumes are more nutritious, literate and life-like than the pulp, slogans, and images cast in the circus of party based elections.
Cheers,

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  • 24.
  • At 05:35 PM on 21 Oct 2006,
  • John wrote:

Yes, but 90% of Americans will spend something on Halloween. The problem is that less than 1% will spend anything on the campaigns. It's not the overall amounts that are scary. It's that campaign financing has become almost exclusively a habit for the rich. Should it be any surprise that access to government is as exclusively limited?

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  • 25.
  • At 05:41 PM on 21 Oct 2006,
  • Jean Hudon wrote:

Which makes about $3.3 (£1.75) per american for the election and $16 (£1.75) per american for Halloween.

This is much less then expected.

Jean

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  • 26.
  • At 06:16 PM on 21 Oct 2006,
  • Johnson Solomon wrote:

Simply unbelieveable...

This kind of baseless and blind comparison of figures can best be described as childish.

Please, nobody is looking for sensationalism when reading bbc; we get enough off that on Fox and CNN.

Johnson Solomon,
Toronto, CA

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  • 27.
  • At 06:19 PM on 21 Oct 2006,
  • Vance Raeside wrote:

Go figure - more US bashing from Europe..like this is suprising anymore? I moved to the US from Canada. I fully enjoy the spirit Americans demonstrate on holidays - if you think Hallow'een is bad, you should see Thanksgiving! It's awesome, the whole community gets together, people socialize, kids have a great time, and the parents have fun too! Too bad errr "pity" you stuffy english types can't lower yourself to share in holidays beyond getting smashed at the local pub or taking verbal shots at American's while you sip your tea and eat crumpets!

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  • 28.
  • At 06:25 PM on 21 Oct 2006,
  • Paul wrote:

Political parties don't spend a red cent on "democracy". They spend the money trying to get themselves elected - which deep-down is about as anti-democratic activity as you can think of.

I think Halloween parties - which bind people togeter - are a far better investment than political parties, which do the reverse.

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What's frightening is that somebody thought this was worth writing a column about! How much do the British shell out on those stupid stag and hen parties? Flying to Prague for those same stupid parties? How much do they shell out on booze per week? Who are you to comment on how Americans spend their money when the Brits spend theirs on equally crass things?

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  • 30.
  • At 06:37 PM on 21 Oct 2006,
  • jason wrote:

well, if the christian right has its way, pretty soon both democratic elections & halloween celebrations will be a thing of the past.

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  • 31.
  • At 07:01 PM on 21 Oct 2006,
  • David wrote:

I don't see the connection the "writer" is trying to make. Anyway, what I truly am more interested in is why the BBC spends, seemingly, most of its resources reporting on American life and society (the politcs I get, we are a world power wether we like it or not--personally I wish we weren't--it's a headache and dangerous). But otherwise, why DO you care? You should just ignore us and maybe we WOULD go away. But have a nice day otherwise :)

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  • 32.
  • At 07:23 PM on 21 Oct 2006,
  • Ian wrote:

The answer to Donald's question is that Britain's political parties combined spent much less than 100 million dollars for the 2005 General (ie not midterm) election. I find it amusing how so many Americans on this board routinely take reporters' witticisms deadly seriously and fail to distinguish between a lighthearted throwaway piece like this and more substantial political analysis. Halloween is supposed to be 'horrible'! It was a joke!

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  • 33.
  • At 08:02 PM on 21 Oct 2006,
  • Travis Arnzen wrote:

As Jean pointed out previously, $16 per person for a fun night of entertainment and treats isn't that absurd. Factor in that a large portion goes into purchasing pumpkins and carving equipment, and you've got something like 6 hours of entertainment for about $16...cheaper than a movie.

Also, the money is better spent on Halloween than on POLITICS (not democracy).

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  • 34.
  • At 08:32 PM on 21 Oct 2006,
  • Douglas Gifford wrote:

I'll echo Travis's point: that billion is not being spent on democracy (democracy's cost would be that of supporting elections and elected assemblies) it is being spent on buying power within the American democratic process.

I think I'll go out now and buy some candy.

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  • 35.
  • At 08:43 PM on 21 Oct 2006,
  • Shawn wrote:

I'm sorry, but this blog entry is really obnoxious. Halloween is a blast, and I'd rather spend $50 on a fun costume or treats for others than on my political party that is 1) going to spend it on over-the-top attack ads suggesting if we vote for the demonic other guy we're all going to die; or 2) spend money for annoying phone calls that interrupt my dinner. Is the writer as ethnocentric and condescending about all nations' festivals and traditions...or just ours? I think I know the answer to that. Happy Halloween James!

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  • 36.
  • At 10:36 PM on 21 Oct 2006,
  • Daniel wrote:

I enjoy some light fun in the news as much as anyone else, but this article is absurd. Campaign finance as democracy? If I want fluff I'll read the Sun. Come on, BBC!

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  • 37.
  • At 10:46 PM on 21 Oct 2006,
  • CIacci wrote:

When will the Pom's stop whinging about the United States, that $5bn works out to $30-40 pp, as Hallowe'en grows bigger in the U.K. each year people in the U.K. are at least spending £30-40. Go to Clinton Card shops (the UK's largest specialist greeting card retailer)and see how many costumes they have. Look around London see how many Hallowe'en parties they have.

Why don't you criticize how much you spend and your holiday Guy Fawkes Day, (A secret plan to overthrow the king with 36 barrels of gunpowder - and stored them in a cellar, just under the House of Lords) How many people go out and spend it on fireworks & bonfire parties. Ton's!!!

England. Always crazy, getting worse.

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  • 38.
  • At 10:58 PM on 21 Oct 2006,
  • Dale Kirby wrote:

I would ask how much the UK spends on the monarchy each year, but it is really none of my business. Do you see where I'm going with this, Jimmy?

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  • 39.
  • At 11:05 PM on 21 Oct 2006,
  • Donald wrote:

Ian-
Thanks for the info. I think most of the Yanks comments were directed at the truly humorous proposition, or "witticism", that the amount of money spent on elections has anything to do with democracy and the implication that it is too much (it is, but just think how many pennies that would be!). I was sincerely curious about the comparable amount. Considering that the US has a land mass that is 39x; and a population that is 5x; that of the UK, the spending of $100m vs. $1,000 mio helps put things in perspective: you lot also spend too much. :)
And at least our seriousness amuses you!
Cheers

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  • 40.
  • At 11:19 PM on 21 Oct 2006,
  • Thomas Elliott wrote:

And don't forget, some kids participate in Trick or Treat for UNICEF. While I'm sure they aren't making billions like the candy companies are, it takes a little bit of the capitalist edge off! In Connecticut at least, we always got the little orange box to bring around from our elementary school.

http://www.unicefusa.org/site/pp.asp?c=hkIXLdMRJtE&b=1706865

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  • 41.
  • At 12:00 AM on 22 Oct 2006,
  • Vincent Capo wrote:

Americans also spend 70 billion dollars a year on dental care. How much does the U.K. spend on this? 5 bucks?

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  • 42.
  • At 12:05 AM on 22 Oct 2006,
  • john wrote:

yeah....! you have proved americans are stupid.

Nobel prize winners in physics, chemistry, medicine and economy all are americans this year, and the literature goes to a turkish author who is teaching in an american university.

I am not american, but the rest of the world better get over our inferiority complex and get serious.

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  • 43.
  • At 12:17 AM on 22 Oct 2006,
  • dj (seattle, usa) wrote:

extremists live on this chatboard.

5B US is not going to make texas liberal. its not going to turn seattle conservative. you cannot buy change.

the money is better spent on candy - a nice diversion before the next two years of policy changes and law suits kick in.

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Sheesh, people!

James writes a light-hearted little article comparing election campaign spending with Hallowe'en spending and people accuse him of being obnoxious and lambasting American tradition...

He's not making a deep political point. He's not challenging US culture, nor is he trying to undermine the status quo. This is just a bit of fun.

Get a grip, and learn to appreciate a bit of humour.

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  • 45.
  • At 01:25 AM on 22 Oct 2006,
  • yev wrote:

As American and as educator, I would love to see just 1% of money spend during election to support our education. It is so wasteful, but so typical of american political system.

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  • 46.
  • At 02:06 AM on 22 Oct 2006,
  • Ameriguy wrote:

Yeah. The fact that the US spends less on mass-marketing the ambitions of politicians than they do on a pagan mass exorcism is a GOOD thing, not a scary thing.

Democracy isn't one of those things where spending money on it means you value it. Quite the opposite is true.

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  • 47.
  • At 02:11 AM on 22 Oct 2006,
  • Mary Anning wrote:

How about comparing the 1 billion figure spent with other expenditures considered frivolous. For example, the money spent on hair colouring, spa treatments and manicures by men women and children in the US! These expenditures can occur at 2-5 week intervals.
Then there is the money spent on orthodontics to create that winning smile. What about the money spent on the less frivolous commodity of gas?
Go on.... give us a top ten list if you can!

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  • 48.
  • At 02:25 AM on 22 Oct 2006,
  • Clifden Ayers wrote:

Anyone do the math? It works out to 30 cents a person. For a holiday where we all buy bags of candy and give them out to kids that come to our doors, all that number means is that there are a lot of people who aren't celebrating. What does the average British household spend on bread a week? Hell, I spend more than 30 cents a week on vending machine gumballs. This article was a waste of all our time.

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  • 49.
  • At 03:05 AM on 22 Oct 2006,
  • Paul wrote:

Americans aren't spending $1bn on democracy, they're spending it on campaigning. That kind of money on campaigns is more damaging to democracy than anything else. Maybe if they spent that much money on voting equipment in black counties then more people would actually have their votes counted. That would be democracy.

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  • 50.
  • At 03:12 AM on 22 Oct 2006,
  • Michael wrote:

Just when I think that Americans are the most obnoxiously smug people on the planet I drop by the Beeb and find that the champ still resides in the Emerald Isle.

Congratulations, Great Britain. You're still the kings (and queens -- mustn't be exclusive, now!) of bigotry.

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  • 51.
  • At 03:17 AM on 22 Oct 2006,
  • Thomas wrote:

Think of this blog not as a value judgement but as a sign of the capacity of the US population to generate funds for even a trivial temporary reason. As Shawn points out the potential is much, much greater than 16 USD per person.

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  • 52.
  • At 03:21 AM on 22 Oct 2006,
  • Lavaun wrote:

Actually, I'm glad partisan campaign expenditures are not higher, as expensive political campaigns inevitably skew the political process away from grass-roots activists, tilting it instead toward the moneybags. $$Big campaign contributers are invariably pro-corporate, not pro-people.
But Mr. Westhead failed to factor into his $1billion figure a sizable component of both public an private election-related funds. State and local election commissions have spent huge sums on new electronic voting machines. Then there are the consultants hired to to assist the ethnic cleansing of voter rolls, etc. To get around the strongly suspected rigging of electronic (and paperless) balloting, election officials here in Denver Colorado are encouraging paper absebtee ballots, not to mention early-vote polling stations in supermarkets.
Don't forget the organizations working pro and con on to a multitude of ballot iniatives and referenda. In some states, such as Colorado, this process has been(like much of "partisan" politics) substantially captured by big-money interests; elsewhere, it is still grassroots democracy in action.

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  • 53.
  • At 03:42 AM on 22 Oct 2006,
  • Frank Ducrest wrote:

Before the recent local elections in the south Louisiana town where I live, both candidates for chief of police came to my door and talked to me personally, answered my questions and asked for my vote. Yes, they only spent a few thousand dollars each on signs and pamphlets, but for both of them the majority of the cost was their time and some shoe leather. Television, radio, newspapers abound in this area, but how would spending money to promote a slogan inform me or benefit my community? Let those that want to spend money on a Halloween costume enjoy themselves. Please, give me candidates for the state legislature and Congress that come to my town and talk in school cafeterias and attend local events. I don't want to vote for a sign or an ad. Mr. Westhead, leave the artificial environment of the beltway and, taking care not to mistake tourist traps as real, visit the rest of the USA. You might be surprised.

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  • 54.
  • At 04:17 AM on 22 Oct 2006,
  • mike wrote:

"Americans will spend more than $4.95bn - yes billion - on costumes, candy, cards and decorations -that's five times more than they spend on democracy."

You mean, we spend five times as much on halloween than we do subverting our democracy.

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  • 55.
  • At 06:56 AM on 22 Oct 2006,
  • Richard Clare wrote:

Standard fare about the inferiority of the Americans.

I wonder how much the UK spends per capita on Guy Fawkes fancy dress, fireworks, co2-producing bonfires, booze etc?

The US spends about $3.30 per capita "on democracy" - the mind-boggling amount spent to buy elections.

The UK spends around 58 million pounds - about 1 pound per capita - about two dollars.

Of course, the UK is spared the costly ordeal of an election for the PM, who is selected for them by their betters in the party leadership rather than being elected by the hoi-polloi.

Regards,

Richard

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  • 56.
  • At 07:53 AM on 22 Oct 2006,
  • Russell wrote:

Perhaps the spending so much for Halloween over the spending for "democracy" is due to some beliefs that democracy does not exist. Two choices is not really a choice. Different pile of crap, same smell.

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  • 57.
  • At 08:58 AM on 22 Oct 2006,
  • Alexis Seaborn wrote:

Not on point, but couldn't find anywhere else to put this comment. The news all make it seem that the Iraq war is the only thing Americans are angry about in this election. Parents and teachers are also angry that Bush's No Child Left Behind Act was an unfunded mandate. No money given to sufficiently recruit or maintain teachers, to pay staff or books, etc. But Bush took the surplus he inherited from Clinton and squandered it on tax cuts for the wealthiest 12,000 Americans. Tax cuts for the richest, but nothing for education! And squandering a hard-earned surplus that Clinton achieved. (Clinton inherited the US's first ever trillion $ deficit from Reagan.) Then there's the roughly 800 signature statements, more than all previous presidents combined, that in spirit by sheer volume subverts the constitution. (The constitutional way is to use the veto. The signature statement makes it impossible for Congress to override his negating the bills.) Then there's the commercialization of our National Parks, which were meant to be, & until Bush have been, preservation of the natural beauty of America. He put a developer in charge of the care of our environment! Then they have spread propaganda to discredit the science of global warming. And there's the rampant cronyism where who you are related to or went to college with counts, not expertise (see Time or Newseek on the subject). The cronies, without experience got those lucrative Iraq reconstruction contracts, instead of the British! (Cheney may be ungrateful of the British, but most Americans are not) Now the $8 billion/month war cost will result in losses to the jobs & the local economies because domestic military private contracts are being canceled. It's not just Iraq, that we're upset about. It's everything. Remember, Al Gore won the majority vote, and Bush's brother decided the election (ok the Supreme Court confirmed). What do you expect from the Bush/Cheney Administration? It's illegal for the Pres & Vice Pres to be from the same state, and so the VP did a technicality to get residency in another state to get put on the ballot! They were illegal and unethical going in, and they remained so all this time. By the way, in 2000, a reporter asked Bush how a president gets support for his domestic policies, and he answered "by going to war." He knew before he was ever elected that that's what he'd do. This was no response to an attack -- this was his way of getting his agenda passed without any fuss from the country.

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  • 58.
  • At 12:49 PM on 22 Oct 2006,
  • Christopher Flournoy wrote:

I'm not scared by the fact that we spend more on Halloween than on getting out the message during our elections... If anything, I'm relieved to know that we've got our priorities "right." In the greater scope of things, what happens on Halloween has a greater impact on me than what happens in Washington most of the year.

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  • 59.
  • At 01:14 PM on 22 Oct 2006,
  • aidan gibb wrote:

i've got to applaude thier efforts.
i've been in america near holloween and at christmas, and thier both great. massive parties, and great decorations that involve communities, schools, work places and people of all ages. it felt great. if your going to celabrate do it well. the americans do. (bar hogmanay)

plus the halloween money is spent by the people for the people, and there's loads of them

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  • 60.
  • At 02:03 PM on 22 Oct 2006,
  • Cornelius Buzzard wrote:

Angry Americans here = shut up, take a joke, and get rid of that chip, idiots.

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  • 61.
  • At 07:11 PM on 22 Oct 2006,
  • Ed Nicholson wrote:

Sad to hear a Briton imply that Americans spending money on political campaigning is equivalent to Americans spending money "on Democracy." We have one of the two most corrupt Congresses in American history right now, and we're supposed to be believe that more money is good for Democracy? Too bad Americans don't spend $0 "on Democracy."

Moreover, you would never see a BBC article compare how much money Brazilians spend on democracy vs. how much they spend on Carnivale. Yet, we have to be treated to these stupid blogs comparing American spending "on Democracy" to American spending on Halloween (which, let's face it, IS the North American carnival season).

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  • 62.
  • At 02:03 AM on 23 Oct 2006,
  • Sue Howell wrote:

Guess it just goes to show that we'd rather spend our money to have fun with our families rather than pay to be annoyed by advertising.

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  • 63.
  • At 03:56 PM on 23 Oct 2006,
  • Duncan wrote:

The one thing that Americans have never been able to grasp.. Wit!

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  • 64.
  • At 04:02 PM on 23 Oct 2006,
  • Edward wrote:

You have to understand during the break down of that 5Bn, that some families, in fact, whole neighbourhoods, spend thousands upon thousands each year on this event.

Having lived near such a neighbourhood, it was wonderful to see so many children playing out in the lighted and decorated streets and having fun with so many other people.

In America, it is one of the few times after dark that you would EVER let your children outside, even with an adult as escort.

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  • 65.
  • At 06:12 PM on 23 Oct 2006,
  • BK Coleman wrote:

Please forgive my fellow Americans for not being able to take a joke - you see, we're very fond of Halloween, and tend to get a bit defensive over it. It's a tangible thread back to our youth, when even the "horrible" seemed shiny and fun, somehow. A large portion of us rarely see snow (if ever), and can't watch trees change color. Autumn is sort of a mystery, but Halloween (along with Thanksgiving) lets us visit a Candyland version of it, just as Christmas lets us visit a crystalline Winterland. It's part of the American mythos, like living an evening of not just one "Once Upon A Time", but many of them, and all at once. Ghosts and princesses and twelve-year old Popes. Heady stuff.

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  • 66.
  • At 12:23 AM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • Shawn wrote:

Duncan wrote: "The one thing that Americans have never been able to grasp.. Wit!"

Er, you find this witty? We clearly just have higher standards Duncan.

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  • 67.
  • At 01:39 AM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • Dave wrote:

Look at how much we spend on Christmas for a truely disgusting figure. Holidays are only about consumption here and have lost all of their original intent. Why would the political sphere be any different?
Dave,
Dallas, TX

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  • 68.
  • At 05:04 AM on 07 Nov 2006,
  • John wrote:

Silly Poms, when are you going to learn, Democracy is for Americans not for people lacking basic human intelligence such as the British! Go back to watching Neighbours or East Enders!

California alone, have spent more than $500,000,000 on the 2006 mid-term election campaign, in California alone!! On proposition 87, each group have spent over 1,5 million each.

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The article's author is simply making a point, and it's a good one.
Methinks thou dost protest too much...Instead of getting all defensive, perhaps U.S. citizens should work towards, say, establishing a transparent and truly democratic electoral process relatively free of disputed results, and donate the halloween equivalent of $3.00 per head whilst keeping your Halloween...naaaahhh...that would be too easy. Better to turn it into a Repub/Dem finger pointing spat that goes round and round and round, accomplishing nothing. You need to demand more from your elected politicians, and are getting caught up in party politics smoke and mirrors.

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