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How much is 700 billion?

BY Zephyr Teachout | Sunday, September 21 2008

Big numbers are hard for people to process. 700 billion can start to sound like 300 billion, or 900 million for that matter. It becomes like sand grains or moon strands, magically big, past the point of counting; an amount you sit with a nephew and contemplate in wonder. Or, if you're rushing through the paper, "a whole lot." But since Congress is seriously considering giving 700 billion to be spent at the discretion of the Secretary of the Treasury, I thought I'd ask for some distributed help on describing this number to other people. Here's what I've come up with so far:

It is one third of the total amount of money received by the federal government in 2007, including social security, income tax, corporate tax, and all other receipts.

It is $140 billion more than has been spent on the Iraq war since the invasion.

It is $120 billion more than that spent on social security benefits.

It is almost 3 billion nonrefundable bus fares from Durham to San Francisco, leaving tomorrow.

It is nine times the amount spent on education in 2007.

It could pay for 2,000 McDonalds apple pies for every single American.

It is 35 times the amount spent on all foreign aid in most years.

It is more zeros than the calculator that comes with my computer allows.

It is 7,000 times bigger than the Sierra club’s yearly budget.

According to some estimates, it is three times what it would cost, over 10 years, to reduce oil dependency by 20%.

Its over twice the amount of all money given to all charitalbe organizations in the United States in any given year.

It is more than $100 for every person in the world.

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