558: 1000 Times

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1000 Times
And 0.002 dollars will NEVER equal 0.002 cents.
Title text: And 0.002 dollars will NEVER equal 0.002 cents.

[edit] Explanation

When amounts of U.S. dollars (or other currencies of comparable size) in the millions, billions, or trillions are mentioned in conversation, the impression left by the cited number is not some specific amount, but rather some generically large amount of money. A billion is a thousand times larger than a million, but if one is not paying close attention, they both mentally register as being "very large" or "life-changing if they ended up in my bank account", rather than being as different as "one dollar" and "a thousand dollars" are.

In this comic, Randall notes how news organisations take advantage of this fact to make certain figures sound comparable, when the are actually not. The "Bailout" referred to is the 2008 Troubled Asset Relief Program, wherein money was cheaply loaned to large banks by the government to help them remain solvent. The "Bonuses" are the subsequent bonuses paid by those banks to their employees.

Citing the size of the bailout in billions and the size of the bonuses in millions gives the misleading impression that the bulk of the bailout was spent on bonuses - in particular to the very traders who caused the problem that cause the need for TARP in the first place - making for much more outrageous and therefore attention-grabbing story. While the news organizations are not lying per se, citing the figures more honestly makes it clear that the bonus payments were a tiny fraction of the bailout which is not as obviously outrageous. The news organizations, as news organizations are wont to do, were choosing the presentation that was most attention-grabbing over the presentation that conveys the information most accurately.

The title text is a reference to a semi-famous case where Verizon Wireless quoted a rate of .002 cents per kb on their data plan, but charged $0.002.

[edit] Transcript

Dishonest:
[Ponytail sitting behind desk.]
Sign: bailout: $170 billion; bonuses: $165 million
Honest:
[Ponytail sitting behind desk.]
Sign: bailout: $170,000 million; bonuses: $165 million
Dear news organizations: stop giving large numbers without context or proper comparison. The difference between a million and a billion is the difference between a sip of wine and 30 seconds with your daughter, and a bottle of gin and a night with her.
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Discussion

Most honest: Bailout - 1.7 x 10^11 Bonuses - 1.65 x 10^8

BruceJohnJennerLawso (talk) 23:39, 17 November 2013 (UTC)
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