Home > Uncategorized > Quick, how much is $2 trillion?

Quick, how much is $2 trillion?

from Dean Baker

Okay, it is more money than even Bill Gates, Elon Musk, and Jeff Bezos have, put together. That probably still doesn’t give people too much information, since most people don’t have much familiarity with these folks fortunes. But it might be helpful if the media made some effort to put the proposed spending in President Biden’s infrastructure package in a context that would make it meaningful.

The spending is supposed to take place over eight years, which means that it would be equal to just over 0.8 percent of projected GDP over this period. At $250 billion a year, it comes to about $750 per person each year over this period. It is less than 40 percent of what we are projected to spend on prescription drugs over this period and less than half of the higher prices that we will be paying as a result of government-granted patent and related monopolies. (For some reason, the money transferred to the drug companies and other beneficiaries of these government-granted monopolies never gets called “big government.”)

Anyhow, instead of reporting $2 trillion as some big scary number, often not even telling people the time period involved, it would be helpful if news outlets tried to put the number in contexts that would make it meaningful to their readers. We get that reporting big numbers is a cool fraternity ritual among budget reporters, but making these numbers meaningful is actually supposed to be their job.

  1. Edward Ross
    March 31, 2021 at 11:35 pm

    In his last paragraph Dean makes the point that in communicating with the readers it is important to make the information meaningful to the readers . From my experience this is the clue to motivate the public to support economists and academics who are working hard for a more equitable economic systemTed

  2. Vince Richardson
    April 1, 2021 at 9:14 am

    Thank you for this, the drug spend comparison is a very sobering stat.

    The other issue entirely missed by the media and politicians generally is that this money will allow the govt to spend where it is really needed at no cost to the taxpayer because the Fed can create the money if need be. as it has been doing lately, without the sky falling in.

    If this is spent well eg. for welfare and environmental issues, it will both help the well being of the economy and less well off via fiscal stimulus and also the planet. Of course the already rich will scream about such a policy because it goes against their ideology, but that’s to be expected, but that should not an reason to stop implementing this desperately needed policy.

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