"Occupy Oakland October 11" CC-BY quinn norton

the “value” of protesting

"Occupy Oakland October 11" CC-BY quinn norton

A quick thought, inspired on twitter:

Money is protected as “free speech”, hence lobbying is legal. We can give money to other persons to speak for us.

Could we nail down the “value” of protesting? That is, what is the amount of money I would need to donate to my cause such that I could stay home and sit on my couch instead of protesting?

If we have a given bill (say to tighten gun controls), lets say that the pro-gun folks dedicated $100 Million against and had 1000 protestors outside of congress, while the anti-gun folks rummaged up only $1 Million, but got 100,000 protestors.

For simplicity, lets say that the vote is a tie, meaning that both sides were equally effective.

We could then just solve for x, where x is the value of a single protestor…

100,000,000 + (x * 1000) = 1,000,000 + (x * 100,000)
999,000,000 = x * 99,000
x = $10,091

… which sounds very high to me (made up numbers, of course).

Analyzed across, say, all of the bills before congress during a given session, though, one could perhaps get an estimate of the value of protesting.

Hmm… surely a political economist has done this?

“Occupy Oakland October 11″ CC-BY quinn norton

This work, unless otherwise expressly stated, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License. Terms and conditions beyond the scope of this license may be available at blog.justinkiggins.com.

  • http://twitter.com/debivort Benjamin de Bivort

    highly sensitive to that 10^8 term in your toy numbers, but a simple enough model that might be informative. I predict considerable variation from issue to issue.

  • http://twitter.com/neuromusic Justin K

    yeah, I’m probably off by an order of magnitude there.