Now that we’re looking at building a house, we’ve entered into the “per month zone”. This is the zone where nobody ever tells you how much something actually costs, but gives youthe price per month. So in Home Depot, you look around and see tags that say “Only 16.99 per month” on a dishwasher. Great. For how many months? At what interest rate? At what total cost? It can take some hunting to find the price. I was thinking that, given the huge credit card debt that most Americans carry, this practice should be illegal. It’s like reverse compoung interest. I buy something today that’s only $16.99 per month. That can’t hurt right? Then I buy one tomorrow. And the next day. And so on, once per week for two years. Now I owe $1700 per month. Ouch! By taking large numbers and making them small, they don’t seem so frightening.
But then it occurred to me that since Americans seem to think in terms of cost per month, maybe we could use this to encourage responsible government. When we have fully electronic voting, we can integrate some simple caclulators. Before voting, everyone inputs their income and how many deductions they have, and then it takes them to a ballot and they get to vote:
- Prescription drug benefit. Your cost: only $14.99 per month.
- War in Iraq. Your cost: only 49.73 per month
- Safe drinking water. Your cost: only $0.76 per month
- Corn subsidies. Your cost: only $2.23 per month. But wait! Rebate at the checkout on your food and fuel: $0.23 per month!
Congress and lately the courts have struck down a presidential line-item veto and perhaps rightly so. Perhaps with improved voting technology, however, we could create a line-item veto for the citizenry. The key would be to have all of the items tallied at the bottom. You want to help out those poor Iraqis and
all those family farmers , then go ahead and vote yes on all measures. Your cost: only $1543.29 per month!