One of the flaws of modern society is that the average person really has no idea how much the stuff we use costs behind the scenes. How much money does it take to power the internet? Or run a tiny one-person business? Looking up the (often obscene) costs of these everyday things actually tells you a lot about how the world works. For example ...
Research indicates that 99.9 percent of you are reading this on the internet, while the remainder have stolen the thoughts directly from my brain with government satellites. And there's a solid chance that at least 99.9 percent of that 99.9 percent have been on Google today. So with all that info going back and forth through the servers at the Googleplex (yes, Google named its actual headquarters like they're a '60s Batman villain), how much power do you think it would take to run it all?
Let me first stop you before you go too far by belching out a robust guffaw at whatever number you were going to propose. Because this article I found indicates that Google used 4,402,836 MWh of power in 2014. In the U.S., the average household was using 10,766 kWh. That's 10.766 MWh. My nerd friends at Statista tell me that the average cost of electricity in the U.S. is $0.21 per kWh. And the wizard behind the woodpile tells me that the math on that works out to $924,595,560 a year on electricity for Google.
Google isn't the whole internet, of course. It's just one piece of an even bigger pie. Berkeley played with some numbers in 2016, and determined that the internet runs on about 70 billion kWh. Instead of dollars this time, let's put that in terms of cost to the environment. The internet and its connected devices fart out 830 million tons of CO2 every year, even though Google itself has reportedly gone 100 percent renewable as of this year (though in a somewhat roundabout way). And while we're on the subject ...
Most of us get annoyed by the spike in electricity costs during the summer, but if the alternative is being sweaty in your own home, then money is no object, because sweat is the devil's lube. But while the cost of your own AC is daunting, imagine what it costs to keep large-scale operations cold in the heat -- especially if they were plopped down in some place foolish like Arizona, which is literally parked across the street from the sun. Now stop imagining, because this is not playtime, and I'm just going to tell you what it costs to keep State Farm Stadium (home of the Arizona Cardinals) chill enough to support human life.
The cost of cooling that 1.7 million square feet is between $500,000 and $600,000 per month in the summer.
Mind you, the average July temperature there is 106 degrees Fahrenheit. And its average cold temperature, in the dead of winter, is room temperature. The closest you get to freezing to death is probably how it feels in whatever room you're currently reading this article in. So keeping a stadium from melting its 63,000 occupants is a big job. That means air conditioning on a scale that is basically telling the desert to go fuck itself, then paying for it by grossly overcharging you for nachos. And while we're on the subject of spending massive resources in the name of sport ...
Lawns are a pain in the dick to maintain. For instance, did you know that you need to maintain them? It's utterly true. Now imagine how much work goes into maintaining golf course grass. Well, according to golfcourseindustry.com, my go-to website for all my extensive golf course industry concerns, the expenses involved in ensuring that greens stay green are absurd.
For example, the average cost of lawn-mowing and cultivation equipment is just under $46,000 a year. The cost of water is $80,918 a year. Pesticides are another $60,000. You could kill a grasshopper the size of a Buick with that, according to my research/master plan.
Obviously, a golf course has a considerable amount of space to cover, but just focus for a moment on the mowing and watering aspect here, which comes in at a cost of over $125,000 a year on average. Remember that old guy on your block when you were a kid who religiously cultivated his lawn, who kept it pristine and green even in the worst weather, who used to water his driveway on the weekend and would freak out if anyone stepped on his grass? Now imagine that kind of dedication, but for 18 holes.
Remember in 2015, when news came out that some hot dogs contained human DNA? That was a fun bit of information that didn't stop me from eating them. And it didn't stop many other people from eating them either. And that's why New York City is full of hot dog vendors just waiting to fill you with pork and/or person meat. So what's the overhead like on a cart full of dick euphemisms and muggy water?
In 2013, the dude selling hot dogs for $2 outside the zoo was paying the city $289,500 a year for the right to do so. Four other wiener tycoons were also paying the city over $200,000 a year to sell in Central Park, and there were 20 in total inside the park that paid fees over $100,000. Imagine how many times you have to hear gross things like "Can I get a beef hot dog with onions and nothing else?" per day to make that budget work.
Most vendors aren't spilling the beans on how much money they make to justify the cost of running a cart, but factor in supplies, the fact that selling a hot dog in the middle of January is about as profitable as using a pickax to mine Bitcoin, and the fact that many carts actually pay someone to operate the thing, and you can guess that it's daunting. Or at least, more than seems sane -- these guys have to be making hundreds of thousands a year on the food no one has ever eaten without a tiny bit of shame.
And while we're talking about paying huge money for what seems like a really shitty job ...
With the rise of Uber and Lyft, we sometimes forget about the original "getting in a car with a stranger" business that we all used to pay for. Cab driving is still a big industry in places like Chicago, and you can shell out as much as $50,000 to get your medallion there, which lets you legally have drunk people puking in your back seat. It's all due to the medallions being limited, thus creating some crazy competition.
But Chicago has nothing on Hong Kong. Hong Kong taxi licensing is to Chicago taxi licensing what Bigfoot's dick is to Chupacabra's dick. And if you've ever seen Chupacabra's sad little Twizzler dick, you know how funny that comparison was.
You know how rich people like to buy real estate as an investment and then hunt men for sport? Well, in Hong Kong, the government started imposing taxes on certain transactions, like real estate, in an effort to curb rising prices. Rich people then shifted their financial focus to to another limited resource: cab medallions. Prices spiked in 2015 to just under $1 million. However, the China Daily article from 2017 I linked above points out that the price softened to an entirely tolerable $830,000 or so. Shit, buy two.
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