One Vote, One Auction
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 haven't had contact with another live human being in over a week.It's easy to see the attraction. First, there's a lot to choose from. Each day over 300,000 new items are listed on eBay alone. It's like going into a Third World street market except better. You don't have to know the language, don't need to learn the customs, and that smelly guy with the food stuck in his teeth who hasn't showered for three days is 1,500 miles away sitting in front of his computer, which means you don't 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 world's biggest yard sale. And like any good yard sale, it's 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 man's body.Chances are these weren't real, but were actually hoaxes perpetrated by bored high school students, eBay's P.R. firm, or Peter Funt, who was videotaping it for his new TV show, "Candid Computer." But that doesn't mean we shouldn't 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 (that's right, we could try to get a job with Microsoft). Hell, we could even auction off the presidency.And why not? It wouldn't 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 couldn't 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." He's 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 it -- political candidates spend great big gobs of money trying to get elected. George W. Bush pulled in $36 million in no time flat and obviously hasn't 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, money's so important that Elizabeth Dole had to drop out of the race because she couldn't raise enough of it, proving that Viagra can't raise everything.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 don't they just pay us directly?That's why I'm going to put my vote up for auction. It's 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. It's 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! It's what the candidates would call a win-win situation. And hopefully I'll 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 don't know about you, but for $182.55 I could easily be talked into changing my vote. And that's 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?