The difference between a million, a billion and a trillion

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The words “million,” “billion” and “trillion” look and sound pretty much the same.

But if you stacked up thousand-dollar bills to reach one million, it would reach four inches high. One billion thousand-dollar bills stacked up is around 333 feet high. One trillion is about 63 MILES high.

In other words, a trillion is MUCH bigger. But President Bush, who has asked Congress to approve another $187 billion in new funding for the Iraq war, is trying to distract the public by also requesting $770 million in global food aid. The President’s strategists are betting that people will get mixed up by the size of the two numbers. Obligingly, USA Today newspaper ran a big front page headline on May 2nd, that said “US COULD ADD $770M in FOOD AID.” In small letters below, USA Today mentions “Bush proposal comes along with request for $178B in war funding.”

Unless you read very closely, it is quite easy to miss the difference between the “M” and the “B” — and to miss the fact that the President is asking for 250 times more money for the Iraq War than for food aid.

Indeed, the next 6 paragraphs of the article describe how this $770M in food generosity is being praised by charities – with barely a mention of those pesky $178B for the war.

Read more here. Article by Sue Kirchoff and Richard Wolf, page 1A.

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