1. Scale. If you made a thousand dollars a day, you’d have a million in 3 years. A billion? 2,740 years.
To earn a million dollars in a year, you’d have to make about $500 an hour, not including holidays. To get to a billion dollars in a year, you’d have to earn sixty dollars every second of every day, sixty seconds an hour, 24 hours a day, 365 days. $3,600 an hour. Most billionaires took about 10 years to get there, amassing wealth at around $6 a second for a decade. Amazon’s Bezos increased his wealth last year from $72.8 billion to $108.7 billion. He made $126,000 an hour, every hour, every day in one year.
A billion dollars is about 16,000 average American yearly incomes put together, which means for every dollar the average American earned, the billionaire earned $16,000. As a number, this is large, but not otherwordly. But consider the relative cost of basic necessities to the billionaire, things that cost the same to each person, like food. For every dollar the average American spends on food (about 10% of yearly income), the billionaire only spends .00006% of their annual intake. The average American spends another 10% on health insurance. 20% on rent or mortgage. 5% on utilities. 20% goes towards taxes. To the billionaire, all of this combined, all basic living expenses shouldered by the average American, amounts to a fraction of a penny of every dollar they amass in a year.
Stack a million dollar bills on top of each other and you have a pile about 300 feet high, roughly the length of a football field. Multiply that stack to a billion? 63 miles high.
In 2017, the world had 2,000 or so billionaires holding $7.6 trillion collectively. If a billion is a universe of difference from a million, a trillion is equally as distant from a billion. A stack of a trillion one-dollar bills? 63 thousand miles high.
There’s an aspect of scale that is easily overlooked when we talk about millionaires and billionaires. One sounds much like the other, only bigger. But they aren’t simply bigger. A million is a manageable, human number. A billion is something else entirely. There are over 500 cities with a million or more people in them. The world’s entire population combined is seven and a half billion.