At wealth’s end …

Monday morning over coffee and I am waving goodbye to Jeff Bezos who has walked so far out on the pier of net worth that he is crossing his own ocean and did I mention I’m all in for mixed metaphor?

Jeff Bezos net worth today is approximately $130B. Stratospheric net worth. Net worth expressly worthy of expression in scientific notation¹:

Jeff Bezos’ net.worth ≅ $1.3 X 10¹¹

And it has been reported that Mr. Bezos doesn’t know what to do with all that net worth which disappoints me.  At the end of the pier in which his peers lag behind him by ∼$40B, at the pinnacle of wealth, at wealth’s end, Jeff Bezos doesn’t know what to do with all that net. Worth.  Casting about with rockets and a 500′ clock that operates off the earth’s thermal cycles, Jeff Bezos with more money than God Warren Buffett, appears to be searching for some sentimental hygiene

And aside: A clock that works off the earth’s thermal cycles?

Hmmm. Seems that will be short lived as we burn this muffin cycle to hot, hot, hot.

And time is a man-made construct. What’s up with that Mr. Bezos?

Evidently, on that long walk on a long pier, Mr. Bezos bypassed the reason for the walk. He accumulates steps on his financial FitBit but hasn’t expanded the view past his own wrist. Or casting rockets into the sea. Or a 500′ thermal clock buried in a West Texas mountain tracking time in units of what? What for?

So if Mr. Bezos is fishing for some ideas to spend at wealth’s end, some ways to cast a bit of net.worth for more immediate tangible results, well, here we go:

  • Purchase a country. Or two. Or maybe fix buy Puerto Rico. Instead of Puerto Rico, (Rich Port), we could call it Bezos Rico. Afterall, buy low, put in a little work and flip it as the 51st state, why not? It could be the grandest episode of Fixer Upper.
  • From Twitterer Matthew Chapman: Buy every homeless person in the US a median price home.  This could be an epic Oprah-chart-chanting moment: “And YOU GET a house, and YOU GET a house, and … ad nauseam, you get the idea … ” Mr. Bezos would still have a net.worth of $1.9 X 10¹º (USD)!

  And he would still qualify for the TOP 25 list of Ricos.

Aside: Being a homeowner myself, I am not a fan of this idea on account of the cost of ownership – insurance, utilities, maintenance, it’s a long list and gifting houses, in the end, may just be cruel. So … 

  • Economic experiment! Give each one of your employees a $192,000 bonus and watch what happens! Kill those nasty stories about corporate welfare and Amazon employees on public assistance. And then the stories about Jeff Bezos is one Rich Rico on account of social welfare can stop.
  • My personal favorite: Get creative and start a new currency! Call it the Bezos. Index the Bezos to a combination of US, Chinese, and Euro exchange rates. Seed the new exchange by awarding Bezos with every purchase made on Amazon. It’s a win-win.

Based on the reach of Amazon into our pockets, the Bezos will become currency quicker than you can say ‘mining for Bitcoins!’ Economies thrive on a healthy exchange of goods and services and we’re dying here in the wait for the trickle down of USD.  We can trade up in Bezos.

And another win! Competitively, Alibaba/Jack Ma will be put on what-for-what-just-happened-catch-up-already notice. Jack Jeff it up!

Ah, poor Jeff Bezos. He can’t make a financial move without moving markets, influencing outcomes, turning the tide. It looks lonely out at wits the end of wealth’s end¹

You’re an economic whale, Mr. Bezos.  Go ahead. Make a difference. Jump.

Make a splash.


¹ I love English. Words can be used and repurposed within a geometrically proximate distance of instance — “… net worth expressly worthy of expression … ” Mmmm. Low hum yummy.

² Sentimental Hygiene by Warren Zevon. Totally singable.

10¹¹: 10 raised to the 11th power. Written out = 100,000,000,000

Scientific Notation: A trillion.

When I was in third grade, The Weekly Reader reported that the national debt per person was about the same as the cost of a new car.  I remember thinking, ‘I can’t pay for a new car! I can’t even drive a car.’ My future was doomed even as I knew that car would be red. Since third grade, the national debt has gone up and come down but the trend of late is definitely up. Cleanly and clearly driving in the red.

The current GOP tax bill is projected to add about $1.5 trillion (USD) to the national debt. Not to be outdone, Prescedense OTUS proposed a $4.4 trillion (USD) budget which, net of income, would throw many more trillion on the national debt. (And the words ‘Trump budget’ sound like an oxymoron.)


A trillion is a 1 followed by 12 zeroes (000000000000).  Reading the word ‘trillion‘ doesn’t have the same impact as seeing the number 1,000,000,000,000.  Represented in scientific notation, a trillion looks like 1×10¹² and ten raised to the twelve (10¹²) looks big … because it is BIG!

I propose that numbers like the US national debt and the budget be spelled out using scientific notation. Scientific notation emphasizes that the number is not of human scale. It is not in your lifetime.  I did the math. It would take 396.372399797 lifetimes lasting 80 years each to count to one trillion. No time for food or any other comfort. Each second counts. For 80 years.  And 400 lifetimes. Whoa!


Although writing $1,500,000,000,000 adds more ink and more space by including all the numbers, writing $1.5 x 10¹² adds gravitas and looks all sciencey and interesting. It looks other-worldly. As a number, it is as hard to wrap my head around the space of a trillion as it was to imagine paying for and driving a red car in third grade.

The space of a trillion.  The space of all those zeroes. The zeroes of space, the last frontier. By means of illustration, this picture was taken from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope. Due to sentence construction, the article seems to imply that the Hubble Space Telescope is a trillion miles from earth. It is not. But the photograph itself is of a spiral galaxy about a trillion miles from the earth. And to our point, the article contains this very valid observation:

Looking at this stunning image forces one to ask: what mysteries and life forms exist there?

And so I would suggest that space and applying scientific notation to the national debt gives us pause to wonder where we are headed with all this debt and what mysteries miseries will exist for our children and their children and what form will life take in the future? Let’s face it, the current administration and circus in Washington don’t give much credence to science, scientists, the scientific method, or much consideration to future generations, or shoot, us even.

So, for all we owe ourselves, I think we owe it to ourselves to apply scientific notation to the national debt.  Here we go:

$20.632X10¹² (US Debt Clock.org: snapshot taken 2018.02.16, 12:30 PM)

Hmmm.  I’m incredulous. Stunned. Representing the national debt in scientific notation underscores that most of us don’t understand macroeconomics and economic theory.

It’s like, science, dude.


In closing, as we consider gun control shoot our ‘thoughts and prayers‘ for the victims of AR-15 weapons of mass destruction into the void, let’s add a ‘thoughts and prayers’ chaser for the national debt. Afterall, the nearest black hole is only about 27,000 light-years away or 158,722×10¹² miles. Or 69,913,020 lifetimes of 80 years.

Ugh.