Occasional reflections on Life, the World, and Mathematics

Posts tagged ‘innumeracy’

Billions, schmillions: Immigration edition

The Telegraph writes in big text

New report shows immigration over the Labour government years cost the public purse billions of pounds, while recent migration from inside Europe generated a £4 million surplus.

Then, in the main article, the study found

that recent immigration from Europe – driven by the surge in arrivals from eastern European – gave the economy a £4.4 billion boost…

More billions schmillions.

Billions schmillions

It’s no wonder the British think they’re getting a raw deal from the EU. The front page of today’s Times reports on a revision of the membership contributions of various member states. The fact that they’re asking for an extra £1.7 billion from a government that is already straining to afford even the barest crumb of tax reduction for its neediest millionaires, while simultaneously fighting to protect its citizens from the temptation of voting for a further-right anti-immigrant anti-EU party is bold, to say the least, and provides an opportunity for Cameron to pose as a red-faced half-crazed deadbeat, defending his country from being billed for services already rendered.

But then you read on a bit and find that

Last year Britain contributed £8.6 billion to the EU budget – equivalent to almost 2p on the basic rate of income tax. The recalculating of the EU budget means that Germany is about to receive a rebate of £614 million, with France getting £788 billion and Poland £249 million.

There must be champagne corks popping at the Elysée today! £788 billion would be more than half of the total 2013 government expenditure.

Billions or millions?

Screen Shot 2013-06-18 at 11.41.23

This headline is on the Guardian home page at 11:30 PST (no link, because it’s presumably going to be changed). I thought $3.6bn seemed like an unimaginably large sum for copyright infringement related to a single photo, and indeed, when I clicked through I found

A photographer who failed to see the funny side of a Buzzfeed post on “The 30 Funniest Header Faces” is suing the site for $3.6m (£2.3m) over claims it breached his copyright.

Billions or millions? It seems important… And that’s not even mentioning the fact that I thought British billions were actually American trillions, which would push the error up by another factor of a thousand.

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