It annoyed me when Congress spent time discussing the bonuses paid to bankers of failed companies. Although this is a despicable practice, there are much bigger issues to discuss. Certainly there are reasons Congress spent time on this issue including, but not limited to, the relative ease of understanding the bonuses relative to, say, understanding our economy and the reasons for collapse. Still I think it is a reasonable request that Congress spend their time in proportion to the fiscal effect the topic has on the American people. But when we are talking about 150 billion in bonuses paid to bankers versus 1.5 trillion for the bail-out, it is hard to understand how much bigger 1.5 trillion is than 150 billion. After all, they are both big numbers. The graphic below provides a representation of a million versus a billion versus a trillion where a million is represented by one pixel (in the original picture, click on this picture to be taken to the original).

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10 March 2010