New Zealand article about furry that cost tax payers an estimated 0.000000006% of their GDP raises ire of Taxpayer Union
On January 11, 2022 Dylan Reeve published an article for The Spinoff entitled Who Runs the Internet? Furries. Within the piece he talks to individuals within the Information Technology industry within New Zealand about their hobby of being a furry on the internet in their spare time.
Articles about furry fandom have been increasingly less hostile toward the group since the more darker periods of CSI, MTV, and Vanity Fair in the earlier 2000s. Because of this, this particular article would have come and gone without too much notice, but then someone used its content to spin a rhetorical argument to promote their organization's cause.
In response to the piece, a political organization called the New Zealand Taxpayer’s Union made a loud objection to what they classified as pro-furry propaganda on the government dime. There were many oddities about their response. For one, the Union’s response called for ‘debate’ within the article, but never specified what about the article could have lent itself to confrontation. They seem to insinuate that the furry in the article was part of some far left cabal without evidence, which is why they may have seen need to confront the individual interviewed. There was
also insinuations such that the journalist in question should have collected information on the private New Zealand citizen to forward onto the authorities. Something I’m sure would not be a waste of governmental resources.
However, in this article we will focus on the thing they, as a Taxpayer Union, should probably be most concerned about— fiscal waste. After doing calculations with all available numbers, and even some provided by this supposed government watchdog organization, I found that the amount that the New Zealand government spent on the single article in question is 136.48 ($US). This is 6 billionths of a percent of New Zealand’s total Gross Domestic Product (0.000000006%).
More details about this calculation after the fold.
Breaking Down the Cost Per Article
In order to acquire how much in government subsidy this furry article was I needed to get an estimate as to the organization's article thru-put. In short, if I count how many articles they produce in a month I can multiply that by 12 to get an estimate for the year. I can then divide that number by the amount that they received in the fund.
Since the site splits their articles into sections, I had to count these up one section at a time from the date of Janurary 16th to December 16th. You can see this breakdown in the Google Spreadsheet linked here. The pie chart within, and that can be found at the bottom of this section, shows how silly it is for them to accuse the entire website of devoting to pro-furry or 'leftist' propaganda based on their single example.
We can see that articles tagged with Society get the most content at almost a third of the articles on the Spin Off site. If there was a subsidy, perhaps it was allocated so that society and culture should get the bulk of the content. It must be noted that the furry article was found within the Technology section which only had 4 articles published in the last month and compose about 2% of the content created. To put it on the chart I extracted the furry article and made it their own category. The full total of which is around 206 articles for the month period.
Using the number the Taxpayer Union proved in their tweet of $335,746.00 being given to The SpinOff in subsidy we will gather that the amount was for their full fiscal year. So we multiply the amount of articles by 12 to get an estimate of 2,472 articles for the year. We can then divide that subsidy amount and assume they were equally distributed to each article written in turn.
This gives us a grand total of $136.48(US) of subsidy per article.
Breaking Down the Cost Per GDP
The latest number we have for the GDP of New Zealand is 22 billion dollars. So you just take the $136.48 and divide it by that huge number to get the infinitesimal results in the headline. However, what makes this even more interesting is that this is not even a significant amount of the allocated Public Interest Journalist Fund.
We can acquire this number by simply searching Google. The amount allocated for the fiscal year in question is 25 million dollars. Of this the SpinOff got $335,746 as noted above by the Taxpayer Union, which is around one percent (1.34%) of the allocated funds for the whole SpinOff site. Of those allocated funds to the full site alone, the furry article was only 0.04% of the funds SpinOff received.
A full breakdown of these number can be found on the following spreadsheet. There is a pie chart, and someone tells me there is a slice that represents the furry article in there, but it you may need a microscope to see it.
Guess in New Zealand, the pie vores you.
Assessing the assessor
In finance there is the concept of value and getting the most bang for your buck. In this, there are people who are supposed to act as a check and a balance against governmental exuberance to ensure that a person who pays taxes gets the most out of their government payments. Those who appoint themselves to conserve fiscal resources typically try to make sure that money going into the coffers, should they be needed, are being put toward the systems they were allocated to and that those amounts are fair to the taxpayer.
However, like the government itself, sometimes those who are the supposed watchdogs of resource waste get caught in their own trap of misallocation. As we can no doubt conclude here, this Taxpayer Union organization has spent several hours creating propaganda against a single article about furries that ended up costing their take payers $135 (US).
While this may be a desire to start a conversation about whether a government should be subsidizing journalism to begin with, this kind of rhetoric could be done without pointing at a single furry article and making a circus of the ordeal. Given that New Zealand’s journalism fund has another year before the current bout of funding expires, it may have been better to wait and used our fandom as your rhetorical tool when the desire for renewal came up instead of blowing this wad in a knee jerk response to seeing an article about furry that wasn’t as salacious as you thought it should be.
Toward those who truly care about holding the government to account for the resources being spent, if folks like this are asking for your money, perhaps you can point them in a direction where they may better spend their time. If you want to beat your chest over dollars on the penny, then you can ask the local street sweeper to take the time to pick up the loose change on the pavement during their line of duties. You don’t need to support a whole organization to complain about a single $135 expenditure on a news article. There are worse ways money, in denominations that are orders of magnitude higher than this, gets allocated by your government. I guarantee it.
Maybe you should look into it?
And oh yeah, maybe do a bit more math this time. That’s an important skill for those dealing with finance. Because if some random furry on the internet can undermine your entire message with two spreadsheets, your government will have no problem handing you your ass.