Tuesday, September 23, 2008
JUST WONDERING: How much is 700 billion?
SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE: (09-23) 04:00 PDT Washington - -- Members of Congress and both presidential candidates found themselves caught Tuesday between widespread public anxiety over the breathtaking $700 billion plan by the Bush administration to bail out a growing class of debtors and their own fear of an economic collapse if they don't act....
The price tag is already more than $1 trillion, when earlier ad hoc bailouts and loans that failed to stem the collapse are included. The administration and Democrats said they do not expect taxpayers to lose all that money because the assets eventually will be sold. However, there is no way to know yet what the actual cost will be. Some outside experts believe the price tag could go higher.
The figures are boggling.
1 Thousand = 1,000
1 Million = 1,000,000
1 Billion = 1,000,000,000
1 Trillion = 1,000,000,000,000
Still perplexed? Here's some ways to begin wrapping your brain around them:
1) Read "How much is a Million?" by David Schwartz. (How about making this required reading for every American citizen, and make Phil Gram and everyone on Wall Street do a book report?)
2)Look here to see what a million dots looks like.
3) Use salt to get a "feel" for big numbers.
4) Or try counting them yourself, like these folks did.
Okay, got that? Now try to understand the concepts of "a billion" and "a trillion." Take a deep breath...
5) Look at this page. Shiver as you read the following:
If we wanted to pay down a billion dollars of the US debt, paying one dollar a second, it would take 31 years, 259 days, 1 hour, 46 minutes, and 40 seconds.
To pay off a trillion dollars of debt, at a dollar a second, would take about 32,000 years.
A tightly-packed stack of new $1,000 bills totaling $1 billion would be 63 miles high. In comparison, jet planes fly at 30,000 - 40,000 feet (5.7 - 7.7 miles high).
About a billion minutes ago, the Roman Empire was in full swing. (One billion minutes is about 1,900 years.)
About a billion hours ago, we were living in the Stone Age. (One billion hours is about 114,000 years.)
About a billion months ago, dinosaurs walked the earth. (One billion months is about 82 million years.)
A billion inches is 15,783 miles, more than halfway around the earth (circumference).
The earth is about 8,000 miles wide (diameter), and the sun is about 800,000 miles wide, not quite a million.
Now all that is not even considering how much it costs to conduct the war in Iraq. For that, look here.