13 Ways to Spend $1 Trillion

By
A A A

The figure is almost incomprehensible: $1,000,000,000,000. One trillion dollars. That's a dozen zeros.

The Congressional Budget Office reports that during the first nine months of fiscal 2010 -- which ends September 30 -- the federal government spent $1 trillion more than it took in. That's another $1 trillion added to a total national debt that stood at just over $13 trillion as of the Fourth of July. (On the bright side, the trillion-dollar nine-month deficit was about $80 billion less red ink than flowed during the same period last year.)

See what a trillion dollars can buy as a slide show

Not so long ago, the idea of a "trillion" anything was so farfetched that it evoked a comic response similar to what the use of the word "gazillion" does today. The 1960s comment attributed to then Senate minority leader (and ever-vigilant deficit hawk) Everett Dirksen -- "A billion here, a billion there, and pretty soon you're talking about real money" -- seems downright quaint today. (In 1965, the national debt was a paltry $317 billion.)

But, seriously, how much is $1 trillion? To help you wrap your head around that mind-boggling number, and to try to put deficit spending into perspective, consider what $1 trillion will buy, expressed in terms we can all understand:

$1 Trillion Would Buy:
40,816,326 NEW CARS

The 2010 Volkswagen Jetta TDI wins Kiplinger's Best in Class honors for cars in the $20,000-to-$25,000 price range. At a sticker price of $24,500 each, $1 trillion would let you drive away with a fleet of Jettas equivalent to 30% of all the cars already on U.S. highways. (The total U.S. car fleet is more than 135 million, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation, excluding trucks and SUVs.)

$1 Trillion Would Buy:
5,574,136 TYPICAL AMERICAN HOMES

According to the National Association of Realtors, the national median price for existing single-family homes in May was $179,400. There are about 80 million detached, single-family homes in the U.S., according to the NAR and the Census Bureau.

$1 Trillion Would Buy:
140 BILLION HOURS OF LABOR

That's calculated at the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. Still hard to get your mind around? How about this: One trillion dollars is enough to hire all 2.8 million residents of the state of Kansas -- men, women and children -- in full-time, minimum-wage jobs for the next 23 years.

$1 Trillion Would Buy:
A YEAR'S SALARY FOR 14.7 MILLION TEACHERS

According to the National Education Association, the average teacher salary in the state of California is about $68,000. The total number of teachers working in the U.S. was estimated at 6.2 million ten years ago, according to the 2000 U.S. Census (the last official estimate). So $1 trillion would pay Golden State salaries to more than twice that number of teachers.

$1 Trillion Would Buy:
THE ANNUAL SALARIES OF ALL 535 MEMBERS OF CONGRESS FOR THE NEXT 10,742 YEARS

The current salary for rank-and-file members of the House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate is $174,000. We're not even counting the extras paid to congressional leaders.

$1 Trillion Would Buy:
THE STAR POWER OF LEBRON JAMES FOR THE NEXT 50,000 YEARS


The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The NASDAQ OMX Group, Inc.



This article appears in: Personal Finance , Insurance

Referenced Stocks:

Kiplinger

Kiplinger

More from Kiplinger:

Related Videos

Stocks

Referenced

Most Active by Volume

36,658,297
  • $10.51 ▲ 12.41%
34,779,674
  • $103.2549 ▲ 0.74%
31,839,291
  • $16.10 ▲ 0.06%
27,183,388
  • $20.23 ▲ 3.37%
23,186,203
  • $12.62 ▲ 8.05%
21,129,196
  • $75.77 ▲ 1.27%
19,345,478
  • $50.77 ▲ 2.05%
17,364,413
    $3.63 unch
As of 9/2/2014, 01:27 PM

Find a Credit Card

Select a credit card product by:
Select an offer:
Search
Data Provided by BankRate.com