How Big Is a Trillion?

With Congress debating the current trillion-dollar stimulus package, it might be good to stop and ask ourselves, “Just how big is a trillion?” Yes, it is a “1” followed by 12 zeros, (1,000,000,000,000), but how big is that in dollars? Here are some numbers from The Family Research Council:

  • If you stack up $1,000 bills, $1 trillion would need a pile that is 80 miles high.
  • $ 1 trillion is more than the combined gross revenues of Wal Mart, Exxon, General Motors and Ford Motors.

With a trillion dollars:

  • We could pave the entire U.S. interstate highway system with 23.5-karat gold leaf.
  • We could buy 16.6 million Habitat for Humanity houses
  • We could hire 1.9 million additional teachers

Amanda Shaw notes the cost of other large items in our past:

* The Marshall Plan cost $12.7 billion ($115.3 billion, adjusted for inflation)
* The space race cost $36.4 billion ($237 billion with inflation)
* The Korean War cost $54 billion ($454 billion with inflation)
* The New Deal cost $32 billion (estimated; $500 billion with inflation)
* The invasion of Iraq cost $551 billion ($597 billion with inflation)
* The Vietnam War cost $111 billion ($698 billion with inflation)

So, the total cost of the Marshall Plan, the Korean War, and the New Deal—using all figures adjusted for inflation—is less than that of the current economic stimulus package. That’s how much $1.1 trillion is.

And Mary Rose Ryback points out that $1 trillion is more than $1 million spent every day since Christ’s birth.

So, yes I know we are in a time of economic trouble, but we should think very carefully about whether and how we are going to spend a trillion dollars that we don’t even have. What do you think?

HT: In Light of the Gospel

Related post: Bailing Out the Bailout


  1. Barrie says:

    Much more than is my bank account.

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