Saturday, March 10, 2007

What's a Billion

We see more and more big numbers in the news, numbers so big that it's not easy to understand what they mean. A simple way to estimate the meaning is the cost to an individual American. Here are two simple ways to figure out what a billion dollars of U.S. Government expenditure means to such a person:

Way 1 (By the share of the population): The Bureau of the Census estimates the U.S. population to be 298,444,215. So if the Government spends $1,000,000,000 (one billion dollars) your share of it is about $3.35:
     $3.35 = $1,000,000,000 / 298,444,215
= A billion dollars divided by the population.
Say $3+1/3 per billion spent by the government.

Way 2 (By the share of the money): The Department of Commerce estimates the U.S. Gross Domestic Product to be about $13,220,000,000,000 ($13.22 trillion dollars). So if the Government spends $1,000,000,000 your share is about 7+1/2 cents for each thousand dollars you earn:

   $0.076 = ($1,000,000,000 / $13,220,000,000,000) * $1,000
= A billion dollars share of the GDP times a thousand dollars.
Say seven and a half cents per thousand dollars earned per billion dollars spent by the Government.

As an example, what has the war in Iraq cost a somewhat prosperous family, of two people earning, $40,000 each? So far the appropriations for the war come to about $350,000,000,000 (three hundred billion)
Way 1:  350 Billion spent by the Government
2 people
$3.35 cost per billion spent
$2,345 TOTAL = 350 * 2 * $3.35
Not enough to buy a car, but enough to notice.

Way 2: 350 Billion spent by the Government
$80 Family income in thousands
$0.075 Cost per thousand earned per billion spent
2,100 TOTAL = 350 * 80 * 0.075

Sunday, March 04, 2007

One Call rents them all

"...which is only a single line of a verse well known to
the wise"

One call to rent them all
One call to get them
One call to bring them all
And on the job site set them.

Copyright Issues ...

In a recent issue of The New Republic, I read the following:

A scientist's plea for Christian environmentalism.

Apocalypse Now

by Edward O. Wilson
Post date 08.28.06 | Issue date 09.04.06

Because of copyright issues, this article is not available online.
Subscribers can download it in PDF format here. ...

What are these copyright issues? How do they prevent the article from being posted in HTML while permitting it to be posted in PDF? What's going on here?

Thursday, March 01, 2007

The Washboard of the Lord

Every rocky mountain slope
A corrugated washing board,
Every snowflake Fuller's soap.
And the dirty land
Scrubbed by His hand
On the washboard of the Lord.