General observations

Can you imagine how big $14.3 Trillion dollars actually is?

By August 2, 2011 3 Comments

Given that today, August 2nd, was the day the government would have defaulted on its debts had a compromise not been reached, I thought it might be interesting to see how well we all understand the concepts of billions and trillions of dollars.

In my November 25, 2008 post (read it here), I noted that the pundits were predicting that the federal deficit was going to be $1 trillion in 2009. On February 9, 2010 I published a second post (read it here) about the same subject and the deficit had made it to $1.8 trillion.

Now, about 18 months later the deficit is $14.3 trillion! Wall Street, the Wars, Healthcare, Republicans, Democrats,- pick your favorite scape goat. The point of this post is not why or who, but what.

Here is a webpage that has shares an “odometer” for the federal deficit as well as lots of facts to help you understand how big these numbers really are. Here is the first example they give us. Think about the ticks of a clock, seconds running by us.

  • 1,000 seconds – is a little more than 15 minutes.
  • How about one million? 1,000,000 seconds – is around 12 days.
  • Ok, get ready. A billion – 1,000,000,000 – is almost 32 years.
  • And a trillion seconds?  A trillion is a 1,000 billion – 1,000,000,000,000 –  this would take 32 thousand years.
So $14.3 trillion amounts to 457,600 years if you count the ticks on the clock instead of dollars. Staggering! Did you have any idea how big a billion and a trillion actually are?
Photo credit: mobilesage

Join the discussion 3 Comments

  • Regina says:

    Thanks for the breakdown. Government numbers are just so mind numblingly large that we all have trouble wrapping our heads around them. Too many zeros!

  • Ed Callahan says:

    Thanks for the comment Regina

  • That was eye opening, and pathetic that the government runs a business that way – I can’t imagine running my business where I have more going out than coming in, yet I continue to pile on more debt. As the kids are now texting “WTF” are we doing to this (once) great country.

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