Going googolplex: Are you worth it?

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Bill Gates of Microsoft fame is worth an estimated $87 billion. Amazon's Jeff Bezos follows closely on his heels with an estimated worth of $80 billion. Reliable Warren Buffett is worth $75 billion.

Those numbers alone are astounding.

Yet economists are predicting that given their financial history, Gates or Bezos could be the world's first trillionaire.

And that magical high water mark could actually arrive within the next 25 years.

It's hard to imagine - actually impossible to conceive - that one person in one lifetime could accumulate such a mind-boggling amount of wealth.

Before we bash the ultra-rich, it's important to note that each of these financial giants donate much of their wealth to charitable giving.

As a self-confessed conservative capitalist, my instinct is to root for everyone to achieve their dreams without reservation.

But seriously. A one-trillion-dollar net worth? That's the stuff of fantasy, delusion or some alternate universe.

That's not to say that Microsoft and Amazon have not reshaped, changed and improved our world. They clearly have. But still....

Let me tell you who is worth a trillion smackaroos. The individual who finds a cure for cancer.

I have tried to make some pithy comparison with a trillion dollars to put it into perspective so that I can better understand. But I find myself unable to wrap my small head around a number so large.

A trillion is a million million. It's a one with 12 zeroes.

But digging even deeper into the numbers' game is a territory reserved for mathematicians.

A trillion is followed by a quadrillion. If a trillion has 12 zeroes, a centillion has a cool 303 zeroes.

Take that Gates!

But wait. It gets better.

Mathematicians have derived a term called googolplex which is a large, large number. Think of it this way. One definition of a googolplex is to write the number 1 and then write zeroes until you are tired.

Quite honestly, I got tired even thinking about it.

Those like Gates and Bezos occupy the rarified air of wealth accumulation and, as such, become easy targets for those who seek to control wealth.

Yet despite the left's participation trophy mentality, as a society we like to keep score.

Like it or not, we take note of the youngest/oldest, fastest/slowest, shortest/tallest and yes, richest.

But before I leave this numbers' game, let's put one aspect into perspective. In 2009, Zimbabwe issued a $100 trillion bank note during that country's hyper-inflation. The worth of that massive note? About $30 US.

A number is just a number. What's important is how you arrived there and what you do when once you're there.

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