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A million here and a million there

By Staff | Jan 10, 2016

A long time ago, in a land far, far away, a million dollars was a pretty big deal.

That would be back when I was a kid. One million dollars was a lot of money. An impressive amount of money.

But, not any more.

Now days, we are told we each need to have a minimum of a million dollars socked away in a portfolio in order to be able to retire. And, now you know why I am still working.

I guess a million dollars just isn’t as impressive as it used to be.

Remember the old saying, supposedly made by U.S. Senator Everett Dirksen many years ago, when referring to government spending?

“Gentlemen, a million dollars here, a million dollars there, and suddenly we are talking about real money.”

That has, of course, been updated to be, “A billion dollars here, a billion dollars there, and suddenly we are talking about real money.”

And, maybe you remember Dr. Evil in the Austin Powers movie.

The character, played by Mike Meyers, is going to hold the entire world ransom for “one MILLION dollars.”

When he is told a million dollars really isn’t very much money anymore, he changes his ransom demand to “one hundred BILLION dollars.”

Now that is impressive.

Big dollar numbers are always impressive and that is why we reporters are always taught to ‘follow the money’ in our stories.

It means a million dollars is still a pretty impressive number. Especially when it is our local tax dollars.

The Blue Earth Area School District has an annual budget of about $15 million. That means they spend over one million dollars a month.

The city of Blue Earth’s budget hit $4 million for this year. The Main Street reconstruction project which covers just three blocks is estimated to cost $2 million this summer. And, the Main Street bridge over the Blue Earth River which will be replaced this summer has a price tag of $1 million.

The new United South Central School was built at a cost of around $28 million, and it will cost between $2 million to $4 million for a new industrial park in Wells.

Even locally we can say that the saying “a million here, a million there, and suddenly we are talking real money” works here, too.

But that is true all over, I guess. That million dollar figure gets thrown around a lot.

Did you know that back in 1980 baseball pitcher Nolan Ryan was the first professional athlete to be paid a million dollars a year? Now this year pitcher Clayton Kershaw was the first player to top $30 million per year for seven years.

Now days they talk about athletes making a billion dollars in their careers with endorsement money included.

And, of course, I could also mention the one billion dollar new Vikings stadium under construction in Minneapolis so that fans can watch these millionaire athletes play sports.

Actors are paid a bunch, too. Harrison Ford reportedly was compensated between $10 million and $20 million for his work in the new Star Wars movie. Of course, I should also mention that the film grossed over a billion dollars in just its first few days in theaters.

There are some other awfully big numbers being tossed around this past week.

The lottery.

It has grown to something like $700 million dollars as of this Saturday. Maybe more by the time you read this column.

There are, of course, some wiseacres out there who say they are not buying a lottery ticket until the jackpot reaches one billion dollars because that would be real money worth winning.

Me, I’d be happy with a paltry million. Because that’s what they tell me I need to retire.

You can have the rest…