Millions, Billions and Trillions

Stack up briefcases filled with $100 bills to equal Obama’s assorted bank bailouts, stimulus packages and proposed $3.6 trillion budget, and the briefcases would reach so high into the atmosphere that they would constitute a hazard to satellites.

Less than three years ago American Liberals were in high dungeon because President George Bush had spent “BILLIONS” with a “B” dollars fighting a war against terror. One website even went so far as to graphically illustrate just how many miles high President Bush’s $315 Billion dollars stacked up. A billion here, a billion there… Pretty soon it starts to add up to some real money. Those billions of dollars went to pay soldiers’ salaries, to pay American workers for building war munitions, airplanes and tanks, to pay American farmers for food, etcetera.

Fast forward less than three years and we are into the TRILLIONS of Dollars stratosphere as our government is throwing money anywhere it can in the name of Financial Bailout and Stimulus. Our brand new President, Obama has proposed budget deficits of $1.75 trillion for 2009, and an additional $1.17 trillion for 2010. All the government has to do is collect a cool $3 trillion from American taxpayers to clear that off the books. So what’s a few Billion here and a few Billion there in the whole scheme of things? After all, American taxpayers always come through.

Today, no one seems concerned about how much a Trillion Dollars really is. Routinely, our government leaders mistakenly interchange the words million, billion and trillion when referring to taxpayer money that they plan to spend or have spent. That is because no one can really understand how much money is a $Billion, much less a $Trillion! As an example, just last week the U. S. Congress went totally bananas over AIG executives getting a mere $165 MILLION in bonuses. How much out of $3 Trillion is $165 Million? It’s really a pittance comparatively, but apparently that math is too much for the average American.

Last week, amid the AIG bonus distraction so that no one would notice, the Federal government announced that it is printing $1 Trillion in new money to flood our troubled economy. $1 Trillion! And barely a wimper from “We the People.” Clifford Barney of Red Door Software wrote the following entitled “Money in the Sky – the Story of Jack and the Greenstalk.”

Inspired by the visuals of enormous amounts of money at $87 Billion, I calculated the following: A 1-inch thick stack of 100 dollar bills (the highest denomination in circulation) is worth about $25,000. To mentally grasp the staggering value of the $1 trillion that the Fed recently announced plans to inject into the economy, the stack of 100 dollar bills would need to be – get this – 40 million inches high. Let’s see, divide by 12, divide again by 5280 and um…that’s a stack of 100 dollar bills more than 630 miles high. Yes, SIX HUNDRED AND THIRTY MILES HIGH. Hundred dollar bills.

If you stacked them up like bricks, the mound of money would be a giant cube 70 feet long on each side. To transport it, you would need a fleet of semi-trucks more than a mile long. And these are HUNDRED DOLLAR BILLS!

This picture ($87 Billion) represents the sheer scale of $1 trillion in 100 dollar bills. Note the little speck in the bottom right corner – that’s a man and his car.

I reckon I could grab a six-inch stack of bills with each hand, if it was in front of me. That’s $300,000 – enough to buy a nice house in most of America.

Now imagine if we used the Fed’s $1 trillion printing press injection to build $300,000 houses on modest half-acre parcels. It would take up a swath of land the size of Delaware. Or you could choose to build nearly 1200 brand-spanking new Trump Towers like the one recently completed in Chicago – each 92 stories tall (quarter mile high), accommodating 10,000 people each.

Bottom line – dat’s a lotta money. You think your $5,000 visa bill is scary? How about our kids’ and grandkids’ multi-trillion dollar credit card bill?

Just a thought – do members of Congress have to show any aptitude for math at all? Or do they pretty much think that million, billion and trillion are just different flavors of money?

How Much Is a Trillion Dollars? Clifford Barney explains:

Remember those old Miami Vice episodes from the 80’s when drug dealers would open up their briefcases, and it would be stuffed with hundred dollar bills? I always used to imagine what I could do with a whole briefcase full of money. The average worker’s lifelong earnings would not fill up one of those briefcases.

Out of curiosity, I whipped out my calculator to see how much an entire briefcase full of 100 dollar bills would be worth. Turns out it’s $840,000. See my math. Imagine what you could do with a single briefcase full of 100 dollar bills. You could buy yourself a really nice house. Travel the world first class for a couple of years. Properly managed, you could probably retire for life and live modestly.

Now imagine a stack of briefcases 56 miles high, all filled with 100 dollar bills. That’s the size of the $1 trillion that the Federal Reserve just authorized to be ‘released into the economy,’ e.g. printed/created/contrived. I’m not even going to touch on the assorted bank bailouts, stimulus packages and Obama’s obscene $3.6 trillion proposed FY2010 budget, because that would push the stack of money-filled briefcases so high into the atmosphere, they’d be a hazard to satellites.

The government is spending money it doesn’t have, and at this point, will NEVER have. It’s easy to imagine that this very year future historians are being born who, in 50 years or so, will be writing scathing historical criticisms of our generation’s government, attitudes, wastefulness and neglect. Yes, neglect. We are neglecting the future, as if it might not ever happen.

The Math, for those who care…
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Our present currency measures 2.61 inches wide by 6.14 inches long, and the thickness is 0.0043 inches. An ordinary briefcase is about 12.5 inches wide, 16.5 inches long and 3 inches thick. A 3-inch high stack of 100 dollar bills would consist of 700 bills worth $70,000. The briefcase could hold 12 such stacks, or $840,000. Dat’s a lotta money.

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2 Responses to Millions, Billions and Trillions

  1. leo r tanguay says:

    question:
    How many miles high if you stacked 12 Trillion dollars in $100.00 dollar bills?
    Please e-mail the answer.

    I have it figured out. I want to know your answer.
    If you date to figure it out.

    Leo RT

  2. who cares? bankers run the world, not governments. people are too stupid to educate themselves…..

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