Just how much is one's vote worth? Just how much does one need to be cajoled, bribed, or prodded to become a participating member of a democracy?
We're not talking Iraq or Haiti or Mongolia here. We're raising Arizona as a model of democracy.
According to a front-page article (at least the front page of the papyrus edition) in The New York Times of July 17, 2006, someone named Mark Osterloh is pushing a drive to award a million bucks in every general election to one lucky Arizona voter. If the measure were to be enacted, the winner would be selected by a lottery run by Antonin Scalia Enterprises, LLC -- correction -- by a lottery run by the state.
The Times goes on to say that the voters (based on 2004 statistics) would have about a one-in-two-million chance of winning, compared to Powerball, which offers roughly the same odds as I have for a night of playing "Who Stole the Kishka?" with Salma Hayek.
This raises a number of intriguing questions and observations (if indeed an observation can be raised, with or without pharmaceutical assistance):
1. What would the prize be for a hanging chad?
2. Does the U.S. Supreme Court receive an equal or greater quantity of political or fiduciary capital compared to its 2000 election compensation?
3. Does New Jersey know about this?
4. Will a similar program implemented in Iraq show us the "light at the end of the tunnel"? (The Quote Verifier has some interesting scholarship on this popular Vietnam War-era phrase.)
5. Can a similar application of this lottery provide a solution to immigration issues?
6. How many Viagra prescriptions will Rush Limbaugh trade for his chance of voting, or winning, in Arizona?
7. Does this have anything to do with next year's final episode of The Sopranos?