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The View from the Meadow
Observations of the Passing Scene

Political and Social Commentary by Dave Satre

How Much is a Trillion Dollars?

A trillion dollars is an incomprehensible amount of money for most people. Yet, our politicians are spending trillions of dollars on an almost daily basis. It is difficult to visualize a trillion dollars. Let's start with some smaller numbers.

This is a $100 bill. It will fit comfortably into any wallet:

A packet of 100 $100 bills equals $10,000. It is less than 1/2 inches thick:

How Much is $1 Million Dollars?

Do you remember when a million dollars was a lot of money? Everyone wanted to be a millionaire. Of course, that was when a dollar was a dollar --- not spare change. A million dollars is a thousand dollars times one thousand. It would be equal to 100 $10,000 packets.


$100 million worth of these packets would fit on a standard pallet:


How Much is a Billion Dollars?

It is difficult to visualize just how many dollars there are in $1 billion.  The politicians who are spending fortunes in government money make it sound as though they are dealing in smaller numbers by removing quite a few digits. For example, one of Bush's earlier budget deficits was $422,000,000,000 is more simply stated as $422 billion.

To put it in a different perspective, a billion is a thousand million. 

To place it in a better perspective, a billion seconds ago, it was the year 1959.

Humans first learned to write 252 billion seconds ago.

A billion minutes ago, Jesus was alive.

A billion hours ago, our ancestors were living in the Stone Age.

A billion dollars ago was only 8 hours and 20 minutes, at the rate Washington spends it.

Or ten pallets of $100 million:

Can you imagine 700 of these stacks? That was the original estimate of our government's Wall Street bailout plan!

The AIG bailout was 170 of these stacks!

How Much is a Trillion Dollars?

A trillion dollars is even more incomprehensible.  It's a million million. A thousand billion.

$1,000,000,000,000 = $1 trillion

One trillion seconds equals 1,688 years.

The oldest known human was alive 110 trillion seconds ago.

The US National Debt at the time of this writing is $11,054,250,000  or more simply stated: $11 trillion. The number is so large that the $3.5 billion this debt is increasing per day seems miniscule by comparison.

This is what $1 trillion would look like:

Note: This stack is two pallets high!

Some experts expect the Bailout to cost American Tax Payers at least two of these stacks!

So, the next time you hear a politician casually use the words "billion" or "trillion" think about whether you really want that politician spending your tax money.



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