How do you begin to put those kind of numbers into context? We’ll get to that in a minute. But first, a few more numbers to boggle your mind:
$7.1 billion: Gov. Brad Henry’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2010.
$11.6 billion: Chesapeake Energy Corp.’s revenue in 2008.
$378 billion: Wal-Mart Stores Inc. revenue in 2008.
$14.2 trillion: The gross domestic product (GDP) of the United States in 2008.
The reporters at Politico have a good roundup of the problems of understanding the federal budget and large numbers in general.
Here’s a recent clip from The Daily Show of Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, trying to explain $1 trillion.
Other senators got into the act earlier this month during the same debate about the federal stimulus package before Congress.
Generally, experts said it helps to put such large numbers in terms people can grasp, such as their own salaries or time. I’m intrigued by the MegaPenny Project, which has been around for a few years.
This is one trillion pennies (the tiny dot below the big block is supposed to be a person). That’s equal to about $10 billion.
Meanwhile, the guys at WallStats also have some useful charts on visualizing $1 billion if you’re a “average person”:
Since we’re talking about the federal budget, WallStats also has a nifty chart on their site that shows where federal money went in the last budget.
Imagine those numbers instead as seconds: A million seconds is 11.5 days; a billion seconds is nearly 32 years.
Written by Paul Monies