Harper's Index (March)

Percentage of political ad spending during 2010 elections that would have been prohibited before Citizens United : 72

Percentage increase since 2009 in investment fraud targeting adults over 50 : 100

Age at which a typical person’s financial decision-making ability peaks : 53.3

Amount in BP oil-spill recovery funds spent this winter on a prom for senior citizens in Panama City Beach, Fla. : $166,000

Number of its 1,875 streetlights the city of Highland Park, Mich., has stopped illuminating in the past year to cut costs : 1,387

Amount of Homeland Security funds spent in Michigan last year on Sno-Cone machines : $6,279

Cost of an IED-resistant “Tactical Protector Vehicle” purchased by the Fond du Lac, Wis., Sheriff’s Department : $220,000

Estimated number of parking spaces per car in the United States : 3

Width, in feet, of the narrowest home in New York City : 9.5

Cost of a 50-square-foot storage unit in the basement of the One57 building on West 57th Street in Manhattan : $200,000

Median sale price of a single-family U.S. home sold last year : $166,200

Years by which the average life span of a homeless person is shorter than the overall average : 30

Number of U.S. home sales double-counted by the National Association of Realtors between 2007 and 2010 : 2,970,000

Annual savings the U.S. Mint estimates will result from aborting its efforts to circulate $1 coins : $50,000,000

Factor by which the average white resident of the District of Columbia out-earns the average black resident : 3

Rank of D.C. among urban U.S. school districts with the widest achievement gap between black and white students : 1

Factor by which a black American is more likely than a white one to use Twitter : 2.4

Percentage of the world’s Christians who lived in sub-Saharan Africa in 1912 : 1

Today : 24

Number of Predator drones patrolling the U.S. border with Mexico : 6

Minimum number of persons whose remains the U.S. Air Force dumped in a landfill between 2003 and 2008 : 274

Number of U.S. servicepeople dismissed for pre-existing “personality disorders” between 2002 and 2007 : 22,656

Amount that each dismissal saves the federal government in annual treatment costs : $13,890

Percentage increase in anti-Muslim hate crimes in the United States in 2010 : 50

Estimated amount of money Hezbollah laundered through U.S. used-car dealers between 2007 and 2011 : $329,552,000

Date on which Saudi Arabia last executed a woman for sorcery : 12/12/11

Number of contestants in an elephant beauty pageant held in Sauraha, Nepal, in December : 5

Percentage increase since 2001 in female participation in target shooting in the U.S. : 46.5

Percentage of Americans who have been arrested by the age of twenty-three : 30

Chances that a U.K. diaper-changing table carries trace amounts of cocaine, according to a 2011 Guardian Media study : 9 in 10

Estimated number of methamphetamine labs busted in Missouri in 2011 : 2,000

Percentage of bypass-machine doctors who admitted to talking on cell phones during heart surgery in a 2010 survey : 55

Amount Miami’s Miller School of Medicine pays female “professional patients” for each student breast or pelvic exam : $40

Amount it pays males for each genital or rectal exam : $30

Chances that an employed American works in the service industry : 6 in 7

Rank of the Mafia among Italy’s largest lending institutions : 1

Rank of Goldman Sachs employees among the largest funding sources for Mitt Romney’s campaign : 1

Obama’s 2008 campaign : 2

Percentage of Americans who believe that the population of the United States exceeds one billion : 28

Who believe that Mitt Romney’s first name is “Mittens” : 2

Figures cited are the latest available as of January 2012. Sources are listed on page 64.
“Harper’s Index” is a registered trademark.