I talked to my mom this morning regarding the “tea parties” going on today to protest the massive government spending plan. Americans are joining together in cities all across the country to take a stand against their growing tax burden and out of control government spending. Both sides of the aisle are guilty of reaching far too deeply into our pockets to fund their own issues – and lately, to “bail out” many many many companies. The Congressional Budget Office estimates the President’s new plan will tally up a 1 trillion dollar deficit per year for the next decade. Now, I’ve never really sat down to think about how much money 1 trillion dollars is. Actually, I’ve never thought about one trillion anything. But I realized when talking to my mom that maybe the reason our politicians get away with throwing HUGE numbers around like they do is that Americans have no concept of how big those numbers really are.
Most people know that one trillion is 1000 billions. Which doesn’t sound so bad.
But, one billion is 1000 millions.
Which means one trillion is one million times one million.
Just look at the number. It has 12 zeros.
A million seconds equals 11.5 days.
A billion seconds is 32 years.
But a trillion seconds is 32,000 years.
To spend a trillion dollars at a rate of 1 million dollars per day, it would take 1,000,000 days or about 2,740 years (1,000,000 divided by 365 days in a year).If you want to spend it in your life time you would have to spend at least 20 billion per day. Even then it would take you 50 years to spend it.
Or, look at it another way – to count to 1 trillion, two numbers per second 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 etc… it would take you15,854 years. Even if you counted 10 numbers per second it would take you 3170 years.
How bout this. There are currently around 200 billion pennies in circulation – which means you’d need 5 times that many pennies to even do the below example, but it’s fun anyway. Here’s what one trillion pennies would look like stacked into a cube (actually, 1,000,000,016,640 pennies). This cube is 273 feet tall, wide and thick. The Lincoln Memorial, yes, the one pictured on the back of the penny, is only 99 feet tall.
One Trillion Pennies
And all of this is just talking about ONE trillion – not ten! I think I have always just thought of a trillion as this huge number and never really took the time to visualize what it actually means. Now that I have, I’m feeling a bit outraged. How is it even possible to spend this kind of money? I love that people across the country are speaking out about their frustration with political spending. However, I’m not sure if a few thousand, or maybe even hundreds of thousands of people waving tea bags is going to get the government’s attention when they’re used to seeing numbers with a whole lot more zeros.