In the latest chapter of humankind's ongoing quest to prove that we can't have nice things, people are now turning on a great American hero: Batkid. Specifically, some people are mad that a 5-year-old leukemia patient's wish to be Batman for a day reportedly cost the city of San Francisco $105,000. What they fail to realize is that money was actually spent to make the rest of us happy.
If you look around on social media and on Twitter, you might notice a few people grumbling about the cost, saying $105,000 "could save ~50-70 lives if spent on bednets," that it was "an enormous waste of public resources," or simply "a poor use of money." What Batkid's detractors fail to realize is that fulfilling the wish of Miles Scott would not have been as expensive if we hadn't all been swept up by it. The $105,000 figure refers to the money spent by the city of San Frisco, not the Make-a-Wish Foundation. And it was not money spent "on Batkid" — the money was largely spent on all the people who wanted to take part in rare and genuine moment of human kindness.
When crowds gathered at City Hall to see Batkid get a ceremonial key to the city, San Francisco had to deploy more cops and sanitation workers and to accomodate everyone. Make-a-Wish had originally estimated 500 volunteers would show up. The actual crowd was closer to 20,000. So the city ordered up things that weren't part of Scott's wish, like large video screens, speakers so that people could hear the ceremony, and a crew to clean up after the crowds.
"People weren't going to see any of that in a crowd that large, so we brought in large video screens and AV stages so people could see Batkid," said mayoral spokeswoman Christine Malvey. And as the Associated Press reports, "Most of the money went toward renting a sound system, video screens and other equipment at the last minute to accommodate the surprisingly large crowds that gathered outside City Hall."
And by civic events standards, it was a bargain. The cost of the crowd at Batkid's ceremony was actually less than half of what the city spent on a 2012 victory parade for the San Francisco Giants, about $200,000 less than a fancy public toilet would, or about six months of rent for Nancy Pelosi's office. Batkid's city was arguably more inspiring than all three combined.
While there are legitimate arguments about Batkid (as Xeni Jardin points out, there should be debate whether the event could be considered "cancer porn"), blaming him for the city's spending is myopic. People looking for someone to blame, blame the people who showed up, not Miles Scott.
"The money will come out of the fees that conventions pay for using the Moscone Center," ABC local affiliate KGO-TV reported. The AP added that the city hopes to recoup the money through private donations.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.