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.

Alternatively, we could have had all of these:

Wouldn't that have been better?

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.