If you are dumbfounded by the amount of money the federal government is pouring into the private sector to ease the nation's financial crisis, it's worth a look at how much Uncle Sam has spent on other major projects and historic events in the past, such as wars, bailouts and engineering marvels.
Thus far, only one item surpasses the $700 billion allocated to the government's main rescue fund, what's known as the Treasury Dept.'s TARP program. Other expenses and/or commitments, from Federal Reserve lending and guarantees to FDIC insurance fund losses to complex financial market mechanism, put the total cost at some $3.8 trillion (as of Oct. 23). Click ahead for a big-budget ride through time.