What Eight Hundred Billion Dollars Looks Like

Different organizations have put forth different suggestions for the 2008 word-of-the-year, including change, bailout, overshare, and hypermiling.

My suggestion for 2008 word-of-the-year?


Once unfathomably large, we now toss around billion with conversational ease. Billion is in the news a lot more, too.


My kids were listening to the proposed stimulus package being discussed on the radio.

They asked me what $800B looked like.


The familar buck.


One hundred dollars.


Ten thousand dollars.

10 000

One million dollars, below.

1 000 000

This is one hundred million dollars.

100 000 000

Ten billion dollars here.

10 000 000 000

One hundred billion dollars. Each tiny pink box is a hundred mil.

100 000 000 000

And eight of those. Here's eight hundred billion dollars.

800 000 000 000

I think I got that right. Hard not to drop a zero.

Every $100B expenditure works out to $330 dollars per citizen -- each man, woman, child, and baby. So my pro-rata portion of the proposed $800b stimulus plan is about $2,650.

Yours, too.

Me, wife, and two kids: $10,600.

$800B is the stimulus plan. I'm not counting the $700B TARP -- another $9300 obligation for my family -- because there's a chance the Treasury gets the money back, or even turns profit on it. Also not counting the Detroit bailout.

My head spins.

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