Remember when a billion dollars used to be a lot? Now we talk trillions.
That's a thousand times more.
The numbers bandied about in Washington these days — yearly deficits in the $1 trillion range, a $3.8 trillion federal budget, a national debt piled up to $15 trillion — are so big they're hard to grasp.
Here's one way to think of it: a trillion is a million millions.
If you paid out $1 per second, to settle a $1 million debt would take less than 12 days. To pay off $1 billion would take 32 years. Paying off $1 trillion at a dollar per second? Nearly 32,000 years.
A trillion is a 1 followed by 12 zeros, like this: 1,000,000,000,000.
A trillion square miles would cover the surface of 5,000 planet Earths.
A trillion people would be 10 times more than have ever lived (based on the Population Reference Bureau's very rough estimate of 108 billion humans ever).
A trillion dollars is enough to give $3,195 to every man, woman and child in the United States.
But for a typical U.S. household, making $50,000 per year, to earn enough to pay off a $1 trillion debt would take 20 million years.