People keep sending me links to this, so I'll make a short post about it.
In the hubbub surrounding the Obama inauguration, there've been all sorts of incredulous press pieces discussing the supposed outrageousness of the costs of this inauguration compared to others. I've personally heard this reported on the BBC world service, CNN, Fox, and MSNBC. In these
reports, the cost of the Obama inauguration is generally reported as
between 150 and 160 million dollars. When they provide a contrast, they talk about how Bush's second inauguration cost $40 million.
The problem is, this is a metric error. They're comparing apples to orchards.
When they cite the Bush inauguration cost as $40 million, they're talking
about the cost of the inauguration parties - that is, the cost of the festivities themselves. That cost does not include security. It does
not include the cost of paying police to shut down the city streets. It doesn't include the cost of cleaning up after the crowds. It's just
the cost of the parties.
The Obama figure of $150-$160 million includes everything - police, security, setup, and cleanup.
A fair comparison? If you exclude the security costs, Bush's second
inauguration cost $42 million; Obama's is expected to cost around $45 million. If you include the security costs, Bush's second inauguration
cost somewhere around $155 million. (The exact figures are still not public
knowledge; Bush and company treated it as a "national security matter" which
did not need to be disclosed.)
Yet another fake controversy brought to you by the supposedly liberal-biased media.