Tuesday, December 18, 2007

What does a "Trillion" look like?!?!?

(excerpted from an LJ comment I made about current budget claims by the Bush administration, which I will not dignify by citing here)

Does anyone have any conception of what a "trillion" dollars looks like?

The last time I looked, it cost about $4.5 billion to buy a modern aircraft carrier (warship) and another $5 billion to buy its aircraft. So call it $10 billion per carrier.

We have about ten carriers, counting two conventional carriers in place of the one nuclear carrier which is typically refueling, in refit, etc. and thus unavailable.

A trillion dollars is ONE HUNDRED AIRCRAFT CARRIERS, or TEN TIMES the US Navy's present carrier fleet. This is enough military power to operate at sea over 7,000 combat aircraft, able to handily devastate any armed power on the planet except maybe Russia or China (and even then, give them hives and fits).

The University of California system plows through something like $8 billion per year. That's right, the entire UC system with its training and education benefits, libraries, repositories of scientific knowledge, cutting-edge scientific research and medical advancements . . . costs less than one carrier. Given all of the long term benefits to society and civilization generally, a cheap bargain for taxpayers despite amazing levels of waste and corruption.

A "trillion dollars" is ONE HUNDRED AND FORTY Universities of California, or a UC caliber higher education system for every nation on the planet.

The UC hospitals cost another $4 billion and provide four (4) Level I trauma centers out of nine hospitals, treating 135,000 inpatients; 240,000 emergency cases and 3.6 million outpatients while training over 12,000 medical professionals.

A "trillion dollars" is TWO HUNDRED AND FIFTY UC hospital systems providing First World outpatient care to 900 million people, or four times the population of the United States. Call it buying a hospital system for all of China.

California's state budget is $145 billion.

A "trillion dollars" is the state budget (including schools, prisons and three (!) college systems) for SEVEN states the size of California! In rough terms, this is buying a strong, multi-tiered K through grad school educational system for the entire United States of America -- plus large chunks of a police and prison system, just in case.

A back-of-envelope calculation elsewhere suggested that $1 trillion could purchase enough solar panels to provide 15% of America's electric power.

Best estimate of the Iraq War to date costs range from $500 billion to $1 trillion. This does not include care for disabled veterans, loss of productivity from casualties, or secondary effects of retasking of persons and companies from civil to military work.

A single trillion is a scary amount of power, makes a megawatt look tame.

1 comment:

Mia Zagora said...

Go here and scroll down to see a great graphic. Look in the lower left corner next to the stacks for the little person.