Melbourne Economist: Batman Is A Waste Of Money, Spider-Man Is Way More Cost Effective

Yeah, this is not necessarily about games but, um... well, I actually don't have a good excuse for posting this but come on — we have Mike Pottenger, an economist with a PhD in corruption and organised crime, breaking down exactly how much it would cost to be Batman. You need to be reading this right now! He claims that economics states that Batman is "not the solution to Gotham’s crime problem" and he makes some seriously compelling arguments!

In tallying up the cost of being Batman, I’ll take the Centives estimate that puts the cost of Alfred at $262,800. I think they’re understocking Batman’s batarangs and tactical explosives, so I’m going to go with what I see as a pretty conservative 30 batarangs and 10 tactical explosives (for distractions and quick escapes) per month. Add these to Alfred, round them off and you’re looking at about $300,000. Even this is overly conservative, as it doesn’t account for other expenses such as, for example, (1) the lavish parties that Bruce throws in order to play the part of the playboy millionaire socialite (2) fuel, ammunition and countermeasures for the various vehicles, not to mention replacements for those vehicles, (3)medical supplies, including high-tech knee braces that can cure limps, and (4) ongoing research and development of new gadgets, such as a giant supercomputer that can monitor everything and everyone all the time, a heavily armoured low-altitude jet, a bike with impractically massive tires, or a fusion reactor. Let’s be generous and assume that Bruce manages to do all this for no more than another $600,000, bringing the total cost of being Batman to around $900,000 per year.
So what is the opportunity cost of Batman? Well, to take one example, Peter Parker is a freelance photographer, who’d earn around $30,000 per year (this is the current US Bureau of Labor Statistics estimate of the median salary of a photographer, and given that that’s for full-time photographers, not freelancers, it’s fair to assume Parker would be at or below the median). So the opportunity cost of one Batman is 900,000/30,000 = 30 Spider-Men. Gotham’s policy makers might well ask themselves which it is better to have. (Note: though a fair comparison should consider the setup costs of creating a radioactive spider to bite thirty Peter Parkers, I’ve had trouble finding even rudimentary data on this – I’m open to evidence that suggests this would be prohibitively more expensive than the set up costs of Batman.

According to Pottenger, while Batman would only have a negligible impact on Gotham City's crime-rate the impact of Spider-Man, considering the fact 30 of them could be funded at the same cost of one single Batman, is far more cost-effective.

So, in short, having Batman doesn’t substantially increase the risks of being caught or the penalties if caught committing a crime. We shouldn’t, therefore, expect him to have much of an effect on Gotham’s crime rate (if anything, we should anticipate a spate of daylight crime as criminals substitute away from night-time crime after realising that Batman, like most monsters, mostly comes at night). And this just reinforces the importance of the opportunity cost of Batman noted above: assuming Spidey can catch as many crooks as Bats on a daily basis, thirty Spider-Men would net you 300 of Gotham’s 478 violent crimes per day. The thing is, although this is a much better deal for your superhero dollar,ultimately the money would be better spent improving law enforcement to stop the crims getting out once they are caught.

It's pretty hilarious reading. You can check out the whole thing here.

Via Gizmodo


    Did he happen to factor in the costs of a government funded nuclear spider experiment in order to create spiderman? Didn't think so

      Yeah, that's fair. If we wanted to, hypothetically, we could fund someone to be Batman. Creating Spider-Man is years of costly genetic experiments and uncle-killing. (Although once you've set it up once, it's fairly trivial to repeat,)

        That's assuming the genetic mutations are consistently reproducible though. The time and effort it would take to find 30 people with the same genetic sequence that makes them viable Spiderman candidates would far outweigh the cost of being Batman I'd think.

      He mentions that he had trouble finding data on the costs of radioactive spiders.

      He actually does mention that:

      (Note: though a fair comparison should consider the setup costs of creating a radioactive spider to bite thirty Peter Parkers, I’ve had trouble finding even rudimentary data on this – I’m open to evidence that suggests this would be prohibitively more expensive than the setup costs of Batman).

        ok fair enough, though it kind of sounds like a cop out to support his own theory. Given that the whole thing is theoretical you could assume the price from a few different sources (cost of genectic experiments (dolly the sheep etc), cost of building and operating a medical grade nuclear reactor etc)

    That's nothing. Iron Man cost 1.6 billion

      You know, there are people in the world with 1.6 billion dollars. The US Department of Defense spent 707 billion dollars last year alone, and what did we get out of it? Not 441 Iron Man suits, that's for sure.

        You got a high tech military with the capability to operate in force around the world, stealth fighters and bombers, 11 nuclear aircraft carrier battle groups (not including 20 Marine LHD/LHAs) with their 3700 aircraft alone, a massive nuclear deterrent and almost 1.2 million member army, with some of the most advanced armour, equipment and training in the world. And I'm missing a lot of cool shit too!
        So for 707 billion, you got to buy, maintain and develop A LOT. That's more than China, Russia, the UK, France, Japan, Germany, Italy, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, India, Australia, Brazil, Canada and Spain combined AND STILL having leftovers.

        Last edited 04/02/13 11:30 am

          441 Iron man suits would be better.

            If it were me, I'm going the Robotech Variable (Veritch) Fighters every time. :p

    But Batman is entirely privately funded. It costs the state nothing.

      I came here to say this, damn it McGarnical, you're off the case! I mean top work buddy!

      Also, Spider-Man making $30k a yer compared to what Bruce Wayne makes a year? A $10k item would cripple Spider-Man but would be what's under Bruce's couch cushions.

      most of the supplies would be bought overseas though, so the money he spends doesn't help his own economy

      Spider-man is privately funded too. He's not unemployed or on the public payroll... AFAIK he's always having money issues because he wants to make an honest living with his photography skills, rather than being the majority shareholder of a giant industrial conglomerate which serves its shareholders' interests by (probably) outsourcing its manufacturing to countries using cheap/slave labour.

      Peter Parker is smart, easily as smart as Bruce Wayne, and if he wanted to he could monetise his genius to create a business that would compete with and swallow Oscorp and Wayne Enterprises whole. But he's also hopelessly idealistic and tragically obsessed with his uncle's last words to him.

        Peter is a brilliant scientist as is Bruce. However Bruce has a far more diverse array of knowledge and greater mental prowess. - He is the worlds greatest detective. Am a fan of both!

          Parker makes a habit of learning whatever it is he needs to learn in order to defeat his opponents. I expect that if he defined his "opponent" as a corporation, his knowledge and capability would follow. Not that it matters, it's all speculation anyway. :P

          Last edited 05/02/13 11:36 am

    A PhD in corruption and organized crime? I didn't know there was such a thing. What's he doing writing pieces like this? With those qualifications he should be running the mafia or being some kind of super villain.

      Maybe he IS a super villian and is writing this piece to try to make everyone believe that Batman isn't worth it. If he succeeds and Batman is of the picture, he's free to become crime lord of the Earth and there will be nobody to save us.

      I'm not believing your lies and propaganda Mike Pottenger PhD...Or should I say...DOCTOR POT! That's right, I'm onto you.

      Last edited 04/02/13 10:47 am

    they mostly come out at night, mostly.

    Is not the point of batman - psychological? That he prevents crime by imagery and fear? So in fact Satan wages a one man psychological war against crime? Sounds fairly cost effective to me. How many citizens does the 'concept' of spiderman affect? If you are going to make stuff up at least understand your fictitious premise.


        Technically that is what Satan was created for, so not a huge mistake :p

      The greatest trick Batman ever pulled was convincing the world he didn't exist.

        And if you take into account that the 'myth' (batman incorporated) extends to a worldwide franchise thus audience - you are affecting an audience more than thirty times that of a single spiderman! (of course the costs of each bat-person must be offset but Bruce has already done the major work)

    Also if Batman has access to a privately funded fusion reactor would he not have really low power bills?

    Melbourne, aka Batmania, just spend much more than this on the Myki ticketing system which is worth 0.2 batmans at best.

    Last edited 04/02/13 11:19 am

      I think using Batman as a measurement is freaking amazing. There was one that used Hitler in terms of how bad someone was. A regular serial killer was about 0.01 millihitlers or something like that.

      Lets use Batman to measure rich people. Bill gates could be in the megabatmans range.

      Last edited 04/02/13 12:55 pm

    ..... I've had Mike Pottenger for two subjects across my degree. He always had the reputation as the laid back lecturer.... Now I see why he didn't seem to stressed about teaching us quantitative methods, obviously there were much more pressing things to take care of.

    It's simple, we *kill* the Batman and distribute his wealth among the population of mutants in proportion to their crime-fighting-ness.

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