In the last few years, there have been very large numbers thrown around when describing the US budget and deficit. These numbers are so large they are best expressed using scientific notation (you know, 1 trillion = 10¹²); they are almost incomprehensible. Some would say they are astronomical. So here goes.
If you were able to stack $1 bills with complete efficiency and no air gaps 1 mile high, this would be $14,734,884. Changing this to $100 bills and accounting for some inefficiency in stacking, a mile high stack of $100 bills would be approximately 1 billion dollars. I remember President Ronald Reagan using this figure to describe a billion dollars. That was back when the politicians talked in billions, not trillions. So a stack of $100 bills equalling 1 trillion dollars would be approximately 1,000 miles high. That is the distance from our home in western Colorado to the family farm in southeast Iowa. It takes about 18 hours to make this drive. Remember, those are $100 bills whizzing by at 75 mph or $55.6 billion/hour.
- Current US Deficit 13.84 trillion dollars
- Mean distance from the earth to the moon 240,000 miles
- Thickness of US paper currency 0.0043 inches
- Length of US paper currency 6.14 inches
- Current US population 310,835,836
- Number US households 114,825,428
- Distance from the earth of the sun 93,000,000 miles
- Speed of light 186,000 miles per second
Back to the $1 bills. A stack of $1 bills stacked efficiently and equalling 1 trillion dollars would be 67,866 miles high. This is 28.3% of the distance from the earth to the moon. Placing the dollar bills end-to-end, 1 trillion dollars would reach from the earth to the sun. The distance from the earth to the sun is also called an astronomical unit (A.U.) So 1 trillion dollars is truly an astronomical number, or more precisely, 1 astronomical unit. It takes light 8.3 minutes to pass from the earth to the sun or the length of 1 trillion dollars in $1 bills.
The current US debt is $44,525 for every person in our country or $120,531 for each household. The US debt has continued to increase an average of 4.16 billion dollars per day ($13,224 per household) since September 2007.
These are all impressive statistics, but I still have a hard time getting my mind around these numbers. At least I now get the idea that 1 trillion dollars truly IS astronomical and that we DO need to get the financial situation of our country turned around.