The London Olympics 2012 Total Perspective Vortex
The Olympics is 29 days of sport.
It cost us £11,000,000,000.
That's £4,368 a second.
So far the Olympics has run for 0 seconds at a cost of £0.
Alternatively, we could have had all of these:
Wouldn't that have been better?
Check my working
Sources & Citations
I've erred on the side of caution with these numbers; they're likely to be underestimates. But they're definitely estimates – it's hard to find accurate figures for the cost of public servants & services.
- Start of the Olympics
- The opening ceremony is on the 27th, but there are Olympic football matches on the 25th and 26th. I've used the 25th as my start date.
- Length of the Olympics
- The Olympics run from 25th July to 12th August (18 days). The Paralympics run from 29th August to 9th September (11 days). 29 days in total.
- Cost of the Olympics to the UK public
- The Public Accounts Committee says "The Funding Package of £9.3 billion allocated to the Olympics does not cover the totality of the costs to the public purse of delivering the Games and their legacy, which are already heading for around £11 billion." Thus, £11,000,000,000.
- Cost per second
- I'm assuming the games run 24 hours a day from the start of the first event to 3 hours after the start of the last event: 437 hours for the Olympics, 262.5 hours for the Paralympics; 699.5 hours in total. 699.5 hours = 2,518,200 seconds; 11,000,000,000 ÷ 2518200 = 4,368.20.
- Cost of nurses
- Salaries for nurses vary; I'm using £27,625 as my estimate for an annual salary. This is the upper range of band 5 and low-to-mid range of band 6; generalist nurses earn in band 5 and specialists in band 6.
- Cost of police officers
- A very good salary for a UK police sergeant is £40,000. I've used that for the above estimates. For a standard constable, £31,000 is more likely.
- Cost of doctors
- The NHS is less forthcoming about a doctor's salary. I picked £60,000 as a representative figure. This is a super-high estimate for a doctor in training, roughly in the middle for a new specialty doctor, and on the lowish end for a GP.
- Cost of schools
- Estimates for school costs are massively variable. I went with £31 million, based on plans for a new Cardiff high school. You can also find reports of schools costing £15 million and £10 million, so £31 million should be realistic-to-high.
- Cost of hospitals
- A hospital is like a bicycle – you can always find a more expensive hospital. The new Papworth Hospital is estimated at £165 million, which is what I'm using for this estimate.
- Cost of libraries
- There are 4,517 public libraries in the UK; total expenditure was £1,181,046,000 in 2008-2009. Total income was £99,839,000 and we'll assume that the difference was made up by the taxpayer. (1,181,046,000-99,839,000) ÷ 4517 = £239,363.96 per library.
- Cost of educations
- Another estimate with plenty of slack. Universities can charge up to £9,000 per year. Degrees normally last 3 years; 3 × 9,000 = £27,000.
- Cost of teachers
- I've estimated this at £34,000 per annum. This is above the upper end of the main pay scale. The BBC suggests that's about right.