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Musings June 2012by Richard J. Henderson
Whether it is discussions about the federal budget or the national debt or people who hold an enormous amount of money, there has been a lot of talk recently about billions. When speaking about the national debt people are proposing cuts that amount to billions of dollars. billionaires complain that they are being blamed for all of the nation's economic woes; other billionaires write editorials saying that they should be taxed at a higher rate than their secretaries.
Most of us have trouble just imagining how much a billion dollars is.
Orion magazine carried an article that laid out how much a billion is in practical terms. According to Scott Russell Sanders if you had a billion dollars and you tucked it under your proverbial mattress (don't try to picture that!) you would be able to spend 1.7 million dollars every month for the next 50 years. Or you could think of that in terms of spending 55,000 dollars every day, even without your money getting any interest at all.
If you took the billion out from under your mattress and invested in it U. S. Treasury bonds at recent rates you could spend 110,000 dollars every single day for 50 years and never even have to touch your original billion dollars of principal.
Some may ask what would you do with that much money? Isn't that more than anyone could reasonably spend? Why would you want to get even more? I don't know and I'm pretty sure those are questions that I will never have to answer personally.
It does give us some perspective on those huge gifts that millionaires and billionaires sometimes make. In terms of sacrifice, your generous gift to the church costs you far more than the billionaire who gives a million dollars for a hospital that will have his name etched over the front door. A gift of a million dollars from a billionaire would amount to less than the income he got in 10 days. Most of you contribute a great deal more than the equivalent of 10 days out of your total income.
We appreciate the sacrifice you make for your church.
I am not demeaning the gifts of people of enormous wealth, just wanting to put them in perspective in terms of the sacrifice involved. After all, if any of you become billionaires and are looking for a good cause, you know the church phone number and I am available to talk with you anytime!