Commentary Magazine


How Big Is Big?

The spending numbers become meaningless after awhile. This helpful guide puts things in perspective:

$787 billion would buy 4.6 million homes here in the US at the most recent median price of $170,300 for January 2008.

$787 billion would send a check for $2,623 to every man, woman and child in the US.

$787 billion would fund 7.7 million four year scholarships to the average private university in the US at current tuition rates.

$787 billion would fund 30 million full four year scholarships to the nation’s public universities.

$787 billion would buy 27.7 million cars at the average price of an automobile sold last year in the US.

$787 billion would fund four full months of a tax holiday in the US.

This not only helps clarify how much we are spending, but how poorly we are allocating taxpayer dollars. If we actually did a couple of these things there might be broader support even among conservatives for the stimulus or the other spending projects Democrats have in mind. However, who thinks we’re going to get much value or immediate productive economic activity from the $787B?

You have the sense that, if they tried, they couldn’t spend the money in a more inefficient and less productive fashion. And you’d be right. The Democrats’ goal is to expand the public sector and pet liberal projects, not to worry about efficiency and productivity.They’re doing a fine job.