What do we know about large numbers?

I recently watched this video that attempted to show what the $100,000,000 cut that US President Obama talked about in his State of the Union speech would look like compared to the entire US budget. Great visual.

It got me thinking again about more local budgets and so I looked up the operating budget for Toronto. In 2010 it was 9.2 billion dollars. I know there are different ways to define billion depending on where you are. I used the smaller one which is one thousand million (9 zeros) and put the Toronto budget (9.2 billion) against the Obama cut (100 million) and got this pie chart.

Yikes! $100,000,000 is hardly noticeable in the Toronto budget let alone the US budget.

I’m not sure what to take away from this other than if Politician A is screaming about Politician B spending $1,000 on something trivial maybe Politician A is trying to distract us.

While I would be ecstatic to receive even 0ne percent of one hundred million dollars it looks like I should not be impressed with the whole amount being cut from the Toronto budget. Good start but there better be a few cuts of the same magnitude.

Is there something wrong with my chart? If so please let me know in the comments.

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One Response to What do we know about large numbers?

  1. David S. says:

    I’m the wrong guy to double-check your chart, but if correct, it gives another interesting perspective on political promises, and reminds one of that expression “Lies, damned lies, and statistics”.

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