Vote, One Auction
by Mad Dog
People have tried to sell a baby (which
got a $109,100 bid) and a kidney (which was up to $5.7 million, proving that the sum of
the parts is indeed greater than the whole).
|| Online auctions are huge. You can bid on toys, collectibles, cars, plane
tickets, clothing, broken ashtrays, just about anything. And best of all you can do it
from the comfort of your own home while naked, eating cold pizza, watching the
rhetorically named "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?", and trying not to think
about why you havent had contact with another live human being in over a week.
Its easy to see the attraction. First,
theres a lot to choose from. Each day over 300,000 new items are listed on eBay
alone. Its like going into a Third World street market except better. You dont
have to know the language, dont need to learn the customs, and that smelly guy with
the food stuck in his teeth who hasnt showered for three days is 1,500 miles away
sitting in front of his computer which means you dont have to smell him.
While eBay started out as a means to sell collectible Pez
dispensers, it quickly became Beanie Baby Bonanza, then turned into the worlds
biggest yard sale. And like any good yard sale, its amazing what people will sell.
In the last few months people have tried to sell a baby (which got a $109,100 bid before
it was stopped), a kidney (which was up to $5.7 million, proving that the sum of the parts
is indeed greater than the whole), a large quantity of high-grade marijuana (giving new
meaning to selling to the highest bidder), and even a dying mans body.
Its time to make the "e" in eBay stand for election by posting an online
ad that reads: "For sale: one vote. Original owner. In excellent condition. Only
used once every four years."
|| Chances are these
werent real, but were actually hoaxes perpetrated by bored high school students,
eBays P.R. firm, or Peter Funt, who was videotaping it for his new TV show,
"Candid Computer." But that doesnt mean we shouldnt consider selling
more unusual things via online auctions. We could put our place in line for those
Springsteen tickets up for bid. We could sell our souls (thats right, we could try
to get a job with Microsoft). Hell, we could even auction off the presidency.
And why not? It wouldnt be far from what happens now.
Instead of having big corporations and special interest groups making political donations,
shoveling soft money at the candidates, and paying former White House staffers who
couldnt get a job on TV as a political analyst to act as lobbyists, they could just
flat out bid for the presidency on eBay. The highest bidder would get to choose who they
want in the White House.
The only problem is this ignores Abraham Lincoln, who said our
government was created "of the people, by the people, for the people." Hes
right, you know. Why should the government make all the profit? I say we, the voters,
should get a piece of the action.
Think about itpolitical candidates spend great big gobs
of money trying to get elected. George W. Bush pulled in $36 million in no time flat and
obviously hasnt spent a penny of it on foreign affairs briefings. Steve Forbes is
dropping big piles of his not-so-hard earned bucks hoping someone somewhere will care.
Hell, moneys so important that Elizabeth Dole had to drop out of the race because
she couldnt raise enough of it, proving that Viagra cant raise everything.
I dont know about you, but for $182.55 I could easily be talked into changing my
vote. And thats only for mayor of San Francisco, can you imagine what the bids would
be like for my presidential vote?
|| So instead of the
candidates wasting all that money on silly things like advertising, bumper stickers,
political consultants, and traveling around the country pretending that they care about
us, why dont they just pay us directly?
Im going to put my vote up for auction. Its time to make the "e" in
eBay stand for election by posting an online ad that reads: "For sale: one vote.
Original owner. In excellent condition. Only used once every four years."
Let the candidates bid. Or the corporations. Its all the
same to me. Besides, it will cut out the middleman, and as anyone who ever pretended to
understand economics (or has seen a Circuit City ad) knows, that means we all save!
Its what the candidates would call a win-win situation. And hopefully Ill call
a week in Cancun.
There could be some pretty good money in
this. In the recent San Francisco mayoral election Clint Reilly spent $4 million to get
21,867 votes, which came to $183 a vote. And even at that he lost to Tom Ammiano, who
spent a measly 45 cents a vote on a write-in campaign and made it into the run-off. I
dont know about you, but for $182.55 I could easily be talked into changing my vote.
And thats only for mayor of San Francisco, can you imagine what the bids would be
like for my presidential vote?
My ad is posted. Now all I need to do is sit back and wait a
year until the last days of the campaign when the bidding will really heat up. In the
meantime, though, I still need to make a living. Could I interest you in bidding on this
reproduction of Elvis toothbrush?
©1999 Mad Dog Productions, Inc. All
These columns appear in better newspapers across the country. Read
them while waiting for the auction bids to roll in.