It's not clear whether Everett Dirksen (who served in the U.S. congress 1933 - 1969) ever uttered the infamous phrase "a billion here, a billion there and pretty soon you're talking real money". It is clear, however, several recent news stories seem to imply a billion dollars is not "real money".
- The U.S. is contemplating $1.2 Billion in aid to Pakistan which, according to analysts, is unlikely to buy us much (if any) good will from their people
- The $7.2 Billion broadband stimulus package will not make a meaningful dent in the disparity that exists between urban and rural broadband availability.
- The Congressional Budget Office has estimated the administration's budget could bring about $9.3 Trillion (12 zeroes) in deficits.
- Heck, Bernie Madoff, a single individual, was able to defraud investors out of $65 Billion (what's a billion among friends?)
It's intuitive to me that a Billion dollars (nine zeroes) buys elected officials less than it would you or I. The more money you manage, the less control over minutia you have. A housewife in Bangladesh will get the biggest bang for her Taka (worth about a penny and a half). Officials thinking in chunks of 69.7 Billion Taka ($1 Billion), have a harder time avoiding the proverbial Reagan-era $800 toilet seat purchases or letting a few million dollars line the pockets of corrupt local officials here and there. Sure, these are tough times, however, Dirksen died in '69 so apparently, it's been a while since a billion in the government's hands went a long way.
With the Rockies' home opener today, it's comforting to know a billion still gets you a 13 year runway with that organization (only 4.75 if you wanted to fund the Yankees payroll). Luckily, none of us is cursed with having that kind of money to spend (that did not sound right).. and thus it becomes easier to walk away from bad deals. Take Danielle Vitale (donut girl) as an example. She was well within her means when she purchased five dozen donuts to share with us this morning (although carrying them in did pose some challenges -they're heavy!). And if you've been having a hard time picturing these obscenely large amounts of money, perhaps it would help to think of a dozen donuts as the number of zeros that follow the number one in a trillion. Only nine donuts for a billion. I don't know about you but all this talk has made me getting hungry. So, stimulate the economy by purchasing some coffee, tea, hot cocoa or milk and then stimulate your taste buds with a delicious donut.
Have a Good Friday.