Twinkie Analogy

2011/04/12

After ruminating a bit more on some of what I wrote yesterday, I decided to prepare another graphic to help illustrate my point from yesterday. Specifically, I thought, “Wouldn’t it be fun to make a graphic that actually illustrates what a 3,000 mile long Twinkie would look like?” Then, I realized that to do so, I would need the actual dimensions of a Twinkie to ensure accuracy…simple enough, as a trip to my local corner mart would solve that problem. Thus prepared, I realized that my calculations were slightly off…and the Twinkie would actually be larger than I thought yesterday. Anyways, here’s the graphic; I’ll explain further in a moment.

TwinkieAnalogy FY2011Budget S

First of all, the dimensions of a standard Twinkie are 4″ long by 1 ½” wide (and about 1 ½” high, but since I’m not calculating volume, I’m only concerned by length and height); FWIW, they also weigh roughly 1 ½ oz (42.5 g) each (though I’m also not calculating mass).

Based on yesterday’s calculations, the projected F.Y. 2011 Federal budget deficit will be roughly 1.6 Trillion USD, which is 64,000,000 times the base unit of 25,000 USD (or 32,000,000 times the F.Y. 2009 national median household income of 50,000 USD). Thus, if we use a standard Twinkie to represent the base unit of 25,000 USD, then 1.6 Trillion USD would yield a Twinkie 64 million times larger, or one that is 4,040 miles long and 1,515 miles wide. [1] As the graphic above shows, such a Twinkie would cover practically the entire continental United States.

Meanwhile, the accepted compromise budget cuts total 38 Billion USD, which is, of course, much smaller than the deficit itself; in fact, it is only 2.375% of the projected F.Y. 2011 budget deficit (and roughly 1% of the budget itself). [2] Compared to the base unit of 25,000 USD, 38 Billion USD is no small amount of money, being 1,520,000 times larger than the base unit; this would yield a Twinkie that is 96 miles long and 36 miles wide. [3] This (much smaller) Twinkie is the small yellow shape you can see hovering over western Canada in the graphic above.

Chew on those facts for a while (pun intended).

Notes:

[1]: 1,600,000,000,000 / 25,000 = 64,000,000; 64,000,000 x 4″ x (1 ft / 12 in) x (1 mi / 5280 ft) = 4,040 mi; 64,000,000 x 1 ½” x (1 ft / 12 in) x (1 mi / 5280 ft) = 1,515 mi.

[2]: 38,000,000,000 / 1,600,000,000,000 = 0.02375; 0.02375 x 100 = 2.375%

[3]: 38,000,000,000 / 25,000 = 1,520,000; 1,520,000 x 4″ x (1 ft / 12 in) x (1 mi / 5280 ft) = 95.96 mi; 1,520,000 x 1 ½” x (1 ft / 12 in) x (1 mi / 5280 ft) = 35.98 mi.

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