A Trillion Here, A Trillion There

In this new era wherein fat is the new skinny, ugly is the new lovely, obnoxious is the new polite, dumb is the new smart, and profligate is the new frugal, we may add yet another transmogrification: trillion is the new billion. But by virtue of its truly astronomical scope, the term “trillion” more easily rolls off the tongue than is captivated by the mind.   So, as President Obama proposes a $3.8 trillion federal layout for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2011–a budget which includes $1.56 trillion in deficit spending–it is well worth taking a brief pause to contemplate the magnitude of the figures at hand.

To put things in perspective, the ratio of one to 1.56 trillion equates to the difference between one second and 49,435 years, or one mile and 6,531,104 times the distance from earth to the moon.

You may have noted the irony of using astronomical numbers to explain astronomical numbers.  But hey, this is only in keeping with the spirit of the new era: Paradox is the new logic.   Still, let us hope the government does not print, beg for, borrow, or steal that extra one-and-a-half trillion in one dollar bills because that would amount to  3,439,154,000 lbs. of cash–astronomically speaking, of course.


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