How much exactly are Bush & Co. proposing to spend to buy up toxic financial paper that no one else wants?
It's hard for me to think about numbers larger than, say, $1 million. It's like trying to wrap my brain around the number of stars in the Milky Way. So I went looking for something that would help me grasp the concept of $700 billion.
How much is $700 billion? If my calculations are correct:
It's the total cost of the wars (occupations) in Iraq and Afghanistan, from September 12, 2001 through June 2008.
It's about the annual Gross Domestic Product of Chad, or twice the annual GDP of Barbados, and exceeds the GDP of 51 other countries.
It's $5,072 from each of the 138 million taxpayers in the United States. (Source: Wikipedia, citing Internal Revenue Service Data Book for 2007)
It's about $2300 from each man, woman, and child in the United States.
It's about one-third of the federal government's TOTAL annual revenue (from all sources) of $2 trillion.
It's about one-third of the $2 trillion in the Social Security Trust Fund -- the one that some "conservatives" are screaming is going to go broke so soon that we gotta fix (privatize) it right now.
It's almost a third of the $2.3 trillion TOTAL cost of health care for everyone in the United States for a year.
It's the ENTIRE Federal deficit each year since 2004. As I read this, that means this bailout would instantly DOUBLE the already humungous Bush deficit for FY 2009.
It's 42 times the total of all earmarks in the FY 2008 Federal budget.
It's 3,000 times the Federal grant of $233 million that Alaska wanted for building the Bridge to Nowhere.
In other words, with the possible exception of the wars, every other major issue of spending policy that we've been discussing for the past ten years is chicken scratch compared to this single item.
All this, for pieces of paper (or their electronic equivalents) that are so toxic and worthless that the all-knowing all-wise Market is valuing them at essentially zero.
In other words, my car doesn't run and the body is totally rusted out, and I've put it up on craigslist repeatedly and no one will give me even $100 for it. I'm up a creek, so I just have to sell it to the government -- you suckers -- for $100,000.
No wonder the stock market zoomed up on Thursday and Friday. It's champagne, ice cream, and pie all around Wall Street, Fleet Street, Frankfurt, and Beijing, if this sweetheart deal goes through.