February 21, 2006
Somebody check my math here. (I'm an English Major--- I don't do math.) I read this post and thought about something I suspected long ago: sometimes, numbers are so big that they are beyond our comprehension. Especially when those numbers represent DOLLARS. We lack the perspective to really understand the pile of money we're talking about.
Let's run some numbers. The writer says that the federal government spends $87,836 per second, according to the latest budget. Round to $88,000 and multiply by 60: I get $5,280,000 per minute. If I transmogrify that number times 60, I conjure up $316,800,000 per hour.
Here's where the numbers become unfathomable. A college graduate can expect to earn $2.1 million in his (or her) entire life. Those without a degree tend to earn only HALF that much.
Most people can kinda get a handle on $5,280,000; they can imagine what it would look like, they can think of ways to spend it, and they can comprehend that 5.3 MILLION DOLLARS is a shitpot full of money. But when you get to HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS, you've lost people who think one hundred DOLLARS is a fair amount of cash, a thousand is a bunch, and a million is a fortune. And that's damn near everybody.
So, when you apply advanced mathematics by pushing buttons on a calculator, you discover that at $316.8 million per hour, a 24-hour day comes out of the machine to total...$... damnifiknow. My calculator doesn't count that high, but I believe that the number is somewhere close to FOUR BILLION DOLLARS per day.
If you took that much in $1 bills and laid them end to end, they'd reach... who knows? A LONG got-dam way, that's for sure. And here's where the dollars stop meaning anything because the number becomes unreal. NOBODY can visualize that much money laying in a pile somewhere. But our federal government spends that sum every day, day after day. The mind simply boggles.
Don't forget that we also have state and local governments doing the same thing, just on a smaller scale. That's LOTSA money.
Think about that fact the next time they carp about needing more.
All content © Rob Smith