Wednesday, March 17, 2021

You're Only As Rich As You Feel (revisited)

I kept receiving this as a forward and was pretty much bowled over when I saw the final graphic. Perhaps it's worth uploading as a blogpost, so the next time someone mentions a trillion dollars I'll have some sort of visual reference!

What does one TRILLION dollars look like? All this talk about "stimulus packages" and "bailouts"... A billion dollars... A hundred billion dollars... Eight hundred billion dollars... One TRILLION dollars... What does that look like? I mean, these various numbers are tossed around like so many doggie treats, so I thought I'd take Google Sketchup out for a test drive and try to get a sense of what exactly a trillion dollars looks like. We'll start with a $100 dollar bill. Currently the largest U.S. denomination in general circulation. Almost everyone has seen them, slighty fewer have owned them. Guaranteed to make friends wherever they go.


A packet of one hundred $100 bills is less than ½" thick and contains $10,000. Fits in your pocket easily and is more than enough for a week or two of shamefully decadent fun.


Believe it or not, this next little pile is $1 million dollars (100 packets of $10,000). You could stuff that into a grocery bag and walk around with it.

$1,000,000 (one million dollars)

While a measly $1 million looked a little unimpressive, $100 million is a little more respectable. It fits neatly on a standard pallet...

$100,000,000 (one hundred million dollars)

And $1 BILLION dollars... now we're really getting somewhere...

$1,000,000,000 (one billion dollars)

Next we'll look at ONE TRILLION dollars. This is that number we've been hearing so much about. What is a trillion dollars? Well, it's a million million. It's a thousand billion. It's a one followed by 12 zeros. You ready for this? It's pretty surprising. Go ahead... Scroll down... Ladies and gentlemen... I give you $1 trillion dollars...
$1000,000,000,000 (one trillion dollars)

Well, folks, if it's any comfort... imagine yourself stranded on a desert island. Your trillion dollars would come in real handy for starting fires. Indeed, that gigantic pile of cash would pale in significance to this bunch of bananas...
A priceless bunch of delicious, nutritious bananas

MONEY can be printed by a specially licensed banking consortium like the Federal Reserve - in which case the currency's actual worth is only the cost of paper and ink. What keeps Federal Reserve notes in circulation is sheer force of habit and people's belief in the economic strength of a superpower like America. 

WEALTH is whatever provides us a sense of well-being and nourishes us on all levels. When you're feeling a bit down, getting a warm smile from a beautiful girl you don't even know is exactly what your spirit requires to bounce back. So even receiving a gratuitous smile can be considered "wealth."

In short, MONEY does NOT equal WEALTH

Here's a good example of how far off course the "modern" world has strayed: many years ago in a remote village deep in the Amazon, ethnologists discovered a "lost" tribe that had never known money. Fruits grew abundantly around the village, fish were literally jumping in the clear streams and fresh meat was easily available from the lush surrounding jungle. Whatever the villagers wanted in the way of clothes and tools they were able to make themselves, or else barter with neighboring tribes. Children were happy and free, and the elderly were respected and well cared for. Yet this community was listed as among the poorest in the world because their "per capita income" was measured as less than USD10 a year. Contact with the outside world made these simple folk aware of what they lacked - they soon wanted radios, watches, batteries, and so on. And that's when they realized how "poor" they were.

[First posted 17 March 2009]