Clint Morey - Big Sky Writer
Big Sky Writer
It's a Big Number

It's a Big Number

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Thank you, Mark. And thank you for dropping by to listen.

Having observed the politicians and political pundits argue and pontificate about the national debt, debt ceilings, and saving the country, I thought it would be beneficial to review what the numbers mean.

Specifically, what one number means.

That number is “trillion.”

The politicians throw that number around like they’re talking about loose change.

It is not loose change.

We need to grasp the value of one trillion dollars.

The answer is almost incomprehensible, so let’s begin at the beginning.


A standard US dollar bill is 6.14 inches long.

Image by HealthWyze from Pixabay

If you were to lay down one hundred one-dollar bills end to end, they would span a length of 614 inches, which is equivalent to 51.17 feet.

If you were to lay down one thousand one-dollar bills end to end, they would stretch out to 512 feet.

If you were to lay down one million one-dollar bills end to end, they would stretch out for 96.9 miles.


Over 96 miles. That’s impressive but that’s just one million one-dollar bills.

It doesn’t really help us comprehend how big one trillion is.


I would like you to imagine that you had a stack of one trillion one-dollar bills. Yes, it would be a massive stack.

But see them. Fresh, crisp, new one-dollar bills. See yourself setting the bills down one at a time, end to end. Bill after bill, until your stack is depleted.

I grant you, it would take you a while to lay out one trillion of those bills, but have you any idea how far those bills would stretch?

My trusty friend, ChatGPT will give us the answer.

Assuming we consider the length of the dollar bill, which is 6.14 inches, the calculation would be as follows:

1 trillion dollar bills * 6.14 inches per bill = 6,140,000,000,000 inches

To convert this length into a more understandable unit, we can divide it by a suitable measurement. Let's convert it to miles:

6,140,000,000,000 inches ÷ 63,360 inches (1 mile) = approximately 96,775,696 miles.

Answer courtesy of ChatGPT

Those bills would stretch out approximately ninety-six million, seven hundred seventy-five thousand, six hundred ninety-six miles.

That is a long way.

In fact, it’s longer than the distance from the earth to the sun.

Image by Arek Socha from Pixabay

A few million miles longer.

I want you to understand that one trillion is a BIG number.

A very big number.

It is nearly incomprehensible.


As I am writing this, our national debt is about 31.5 trillion dollars.

If we go back to our example of laying out dollar bills end to end, we could make more than 15 round trips from the earth to the sun.

That’s our current national debt.

That is not good news for our country.

What are we doing about it?

Well, in a bipartisan action, our politicians have solved the problem.

What did they do?

They agreed to make the debt bigger.

A word of advice.

The next time you hear a politician boasting they are doing a good job because they are only increasing the national debt by 4 or 5 trillion dollars, understand that either they are mentally challenged … or they think that you are.

With that lovely thought, I’ll conclude this episode.

Before I go I’d like to share a blessing with you from the Old Testament.

“May the Lord bless and protect you; may the Lord’s face radiate with joy because of you; may he be gracious to you, show you his favor, and give you his peace.”

Numbers 6:24-26 (The Living Bible)

Until next time … be the reason someone smiles today!

Clint Morey - Big Sky Writer
Big Sky Writer
In a fast-paced world where we're bombarded with information from all sides, it's easy to forget the power of storytelling. Stories can be used to manipulate and control people, but they can also be used as a force for good -- to heal wounds and build bridges.
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