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Give or Take a Trillion

By Jim Selman | Bio

I confess to be among those who have some difficulty getting my head around how much a trillion dollars is. I can remember a book I read to my daughter called How Much is a Billion that was filled with mind-boggling examples, including things like the number of seconds that have passed since Jesus was born. The Huffington Post has a fun video clip visualizing a trillion using the same kinds of illuminating examples, such as a trillion dollars is enough to buy a Starbucks Latte every day for the next 900 million years. The only problem with these kinds of illustrations is that I can’t get my head around 900 million years either, let alone roughly 3 billion lattes.

The punch line of this little clip is that as big as a trillion is (what some suggest is becoming the ‘new billion’), the current bailout is 10 times bigger. Can you imagine how big a zillion must be? It seems to me that when we enter the realm of staggering numbers that are beyond comprehension such as these, money stops meaning anything. This could be a good thing, since when we exceed the limits of what we can comprehend we often transform our relationship to

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