$163.29 for Auto, $4,572.18 for Finance

It’s frustrating to see new article after news article throwing out terms like “25 billion dollars” with no further explanation. As if any of us except Warren Buffet really understand a billion dollars. On a visit to Chicago I saw a million dollars in a museum display at the Chicago Fed—it is a huge amount of money—about a 6 food cube of solidly packed bills. I can’t even imagine a billion dollars.

You’ve got to break billions into numbers mortals can understand. I like dividing by population. In July, the US had an estimated population of 303,824,640*. Take the proposed auto-bailout of $25,000,000,000. Divided across everyone in the US that represents $82.28. That’s a number I can wrap my mind around.

If we exclude the babies, small children, students, disabled and retirees and look at just the labor force (which includes the temporarily unemployed) there are approximately 153,100,000* workers. The $25B auto bailout comes to $163.29 per working American. The $700B financial bailout comes to $4,572.18 per working American.

* https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/print/us.html

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