Wednesday, February 3, 2010

What is $14.3 trillion? And why do I ask?

It is nearly impossible to comprehend big numbers.  Ten, no problem.  I've got that many fingers.  Twenty, add the toes.  A hundred, well, that gets harder but we all know what a hundred pennies look like and that we can get a double cheeseburger for that at the local burger king.  A thousand, well, we're starting to get big here.  What about a million?  Or a billion?  It is really not a concept we face on a daily basis.

So what is a trillion?  Time ran this article last January that quoted a guy named David Schwartz who wrote a children's book that tries to "wrap young minds around the concept [of a mere million]."  Schwartz said that his "favorite way to think of it is in terms of seconds.  . . . One million seconds comes out to be about 11 1/2 days.  A billion seconds is 32 years.  And a trillion seconds is 32,000 years."  Extending the math, 14.3 trillion seconds is 457,600 years!

Again, unfortunately, we've once again reached an incomprehensible number.  How long is 457,000 years?  Well, "archaeologists estimate that modern humans have been on the Earth for about 200,000 years."  Not wanting to to start a fight over evolution or creation, lets put it this way instead, one of the oldest discovered sites of human settlement is 160,000 years old.  So, if we double the proven time period that human beings have been walking on the planet, we won't have reached 457,000 years.  We'd still be a couple of trillion seconds short.

So, why do I ask?  Because the debt of the United States of America - our federal government - is expected to reach $14.3 trillion by the end of this month.  (Link to story here.)

Our government has no money.  We have borrowed more than the human mind can fathom.  Yet Washington Democrats want to borrow more and spend more.

Enough is enough.  Enough is too much.  2010 has got to be a referendum on this kind of thing - and put it to an end forever - or at least for a couple of trillion seconds.


Chris and Jenny said...

The most frightening sentence in this blog, "We've borrowed more than the human mind can fathom." That seriously scares me.

But your last phrase "or at least for a couple of trillion seconds" got me laughing again. That feels laugh. Maybe I can just forget the whole problem and just keep laughing. h aha ha ha ha...(but inwardly weeping).

St. Louis Conservative said...

Welcome to the blog. Its good to laugh.

c.rook said...

Great article and explanation. Although its in-comprehensiveness dovetailed in with the general public's de-sensitiveness to the deficit means eventual collapse. What president could ever go through the staggering pain of paying off that debt?

St. Louis Conservative said...

Thanks for the compliment. Politically, there is no way to pain away the debt. Absent inflating it away or collapse of the entire financial system, or both, there's only one way to get rid of the debt . . . massive growth sustained over a very long time. It may not be possible - but I'm not ready to give up on the country yet.