Comparing Like with Like

In the absence of effective scrutiny, popular resentment of state expenditure concentrates on transfers of wealth from the middle classes to the poor, rather than on transfers from the majority to a relative handful of insiders. To give some sense of the distortions that play out in current systems of reporting, in 2009 the Daily Mail devoted 370 words to a story about a woman who had been found guilty of ‘raking in nearly £24,000 in disability allowances over five years while playing regularly in ladies’ darts tournaments’. The Pentagon cannot account for some $2.3 trillion in transactions. Given proportionate treatment this misappropriation of public funds would run as a 370 word article every day for 262,557 years.

(The Return of the Public, p.182)

So how much money has the bailout of the banks cost the British taxpayer? And how many 370 word articles should it warrant in the national press? There is a prize for the best answer.

Show your working.


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