A Billion is the new Million
Well, maybe, but today’s Oregonian reminded me of another “new.”
Consider three front-page stories:
Lorry I. Lokey, who made his fortune starting the PR-mongering Business Wire, gives $74 million to the University of Oregon, bringing his total gifts to the university to $132 million in the last four years.
Let’s write that in its full glory $132,000 times 1000.
Presumably Lokey has kept enough to pay for his room and board.
Moving right along, Danaher Corporation of Washington, D.C. pays $2.8 billion (that’s with a “B”) to buy Oregon technology icon Tektronix Inc.
Let’s write THAT out in full: $2.8 million times 1000.
Finally (and we still are on the front page of today’s paper) the estimated cost to build a new bridge (and improved approaches to it) over the Columbia River is $4 billion. That is 4,000 times $1 million. (Have you ever sat down to count to 4000? Try it. If you count by seconds, it will take you better than an hour. In other words, BOOOR-rinnnng.)
Is anyone blinking at these numbers? (Don't get me started on what each minute of America's Democracy-building presence in Iraq costs. It is shaping up to be a trillion-dollar war. $1,000,000,000,000. That's a million millions.)
I, for one, am having trouble wrapping my brain around bridges that cost $4,000,000,000 and people who can write checks for $132,000,000 to a university, as worthy as that may be.
Sixty may be the new 50 or 40, but I’m stuck in an era when a million bucks was a lot of money. Now it’s pocket change.