So many Big Macs

Say a ballot featured a 394 million dollar bond measure to renovate a local community college.

I fear a fairly typical constituent, when faced with voting on such a proposition might follow this line of thinking:

  • Step 1: "A bond measure, eh? Well, it's not a tax, so that's cool."
  • Step 2: "Whoa, according to this literature, the local community college is in a state of total disrepair. If there were a small earthquake tomorrow, the whole campus would be in ruin. Ruin! I had no idea. I feel bad to be an American."
  • Step 3: "$394 million does sound like a lot of money, but this literature does some fancy math for me: it translates to one Big Mac per day per person in the community. That's not so bad. And I do like Big Macs! What a splendid American metaphor. Faith in my patriotism restored."

Thought process usually ends here, resulting in a YES vote.

  • Step 4: "I wonder what it means to be a bond measure anyway. Hey, wait a minute, this is just a property tax! How devious that they don't call it that!"
  • Step 5: "I've visited the local community college in the past; it didn't look so bad. I wonder why they haven't been using their regular budget on maintenance. I wonder if any hijinks are involved."
  • Step 6: "You know what, a Big Mac per day just for this? I wonder how many other Big Macs per day I am already paying for. You know, $394 million really is a lot of money. I wonder what you could buy for $394 million. Wow, it turns out the recent proposal to rebuild the World Trade Center towers in New York City came in at $250 million. So this community college will be significantly more awe-inspiring than a sky-scraper. It will be an absolute wonder of the world in my very own community! Well, at least we're getting a tourist attraction of epic proportions. Wait a minute! This is a community college we're talking about."
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