Million, Billion, Trillion… Let’s Settle on "Zillion"

I’m becoming a fan of Politico, which has intelligent writing on politics without any overwhelming left or right tilt. Today the site notes that all of the big numbers start to blur together:

Human beings have a hard time differentiating between millions and billions and trillions, let alone the numerical subsets thereof. To most of us, it just registers as “a whole lot.” …

It is hard, then, to get people excited about the difference between $787 billion and $478 billion, both of which are equally abstract if not equally large sums — which is perhaps one reason why House Republicans’ alternate stimulus proposal, which carried the latter price tag, failed to gain much traction with the public.

As a public service, All That Is Necessary is pleased to present this statistical glossary, for use in explaining federal spending to your grandchildren: billion, trillion, quadrillion, quintillion, sextillion (which will lend itself to financial abstinence messages), septillion, octillion, nonillion, decillion.

(Custom word cloud graphic from

3 thoughts on “Million, Billion, Trillion… Let’s Settle on "Zillion"

  1. “A billion here, a billion there and pretty soon you’re talking real money.” – Everett Dirkson.

    I always loved that quote … until I made the unfortunate move tonight of googling it and finding that the Senator probably never actually said it.

  2. Pingback: Chrysler’s New Majority Owner Will Be The UAW. Yeah, That’ll Work. :All That Is Necessary…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *