An American flag is emblazoned on this Union Pacific Railroad locomotive sitting in the Jackson, Miss., terminal rail yard, Wednesday, April 20, 2022. Credit: Rogelio V. Solis / AP

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People, it’s time to get real about the size of a billion.

We toss the value of immense numbers around like we have a concept of what we’re talking about. Billions and trillions in outer space can be spoken of, since we use them to discuss stars and spiral galaxies so far away it’s unlikely we’ll ever “touch them,” much less see them. Try turning these number values into dollar values and it gets scary — and it should frighten you. The earth’s moon averages only 238,855 miles from where you are right now.

My figures are off the internet, but: People’s groceries probably cost about $100 each week; maybe less may more, but in that neighborhood. Their new truck is retailing at around $54,000.

Maine’s median household income is about $60,000. The population of Maine in 2021 was  1,372,247. The Penobscot Narrows Bridge and Observatory cost $85,000,000 to design and construct.

One billion is 10,000,000 weeks of groceries, and it is 18,519 new trucks. It’ll support 16,700 Maine families for a year. A billion is the same as multiplying each Maine resident, every single person currently living here today, by 729. That’s a lot of new neighbors. A billion dollars would construct approximately 12 Penobscot Narrows Bridges and Observatories. It’s 4,186 trips to the moon, as measured in miles.    

Be a patriot and fly the flag in your yard. Get real with the dollars.

Richard Glueck