Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Here's what one second of national debt looks like

A must read article by Andrew Malcolm to put in perspective the debate about our national debt and raising the debt ceiling:

If you're like most people not involved with drug trafficking, you don't often actually see U.S. money with more than one or two zeroes on it, as in $50 or $100.

...The national debt flew past $14 trillion last Friday. That's a galactic sum that's difficult for any average American to imagine or even grasp. But let's try:

Fourteen trillion is 14-thousand billions. A billion is a thousand millions. A million is a thousand thousands.

A trillion has so many zeroes it won't fit in your checkbook -- 12 zeros, to be exact.
Fourteen trillion dollars is $14,000,000,000,000.00, which is so large of a number that it is still very hard to wrap your mind around it.  It's even more mind-boggling when you think about how the national debt was only thirteen trillion on June 1, 2010.  We added a trillion dollars to our debt in just six months.  (Hey, Democrats, hint hint...this is a big part of why you got the snot beat out of you at the ballot box in November...the math is scaring the crap out of us.)

Andrew Malcolm has a great way of illustrating what this explosive growth in the national debt really represents.  I'll let you click on that above link and see it for yourself.  Warning: it's pretty frightening, and more than a little nauseating.  You may want to check it out before you eat your breakfast today.

Haven't had enough yet?  To watch our country's economic viability draining away, click here: USDebtClock.org (Another warning: scary spinning numbers, highly likely to induce nausea).

As far as the debt ceiling goes, my personal opinion is that I understand the arguments that it would be really damaging for the United States to default on payments, which apparently can happen if Congress doesn't raise the debt ceiling.  And I am realistic enough to not expect Congress to solve our problems in the first week, so I'm willing to give them a little bit of time to get a handle on how to steer the ship.  A small increase in the debt ceiling would give them some flexibility and time to make some real reforms.

My hope is that the newly-elected Republicans play their best game of chicken and wrangle as many spending cuts as they can out of the Democrats (not a repeat of the wimping out that happened with the tax cut extension deal...that was ridiculous).  Let's drive this thing right to the edge of the cliff before giving in.

Please, for heaven's sake, let's just raise that debt ceiling a teeny teeny bit.  Get the best economists we can find and get recommendations about the absolute smallest amount needed, and don't raise it one penny more.

And, hey, remember that fancy-schmancy "Debt Commission" that came up with all those recommendations for spending cuts, Medicare/Social Security changes, and other significant financial reforms that were supposed to finally get our national debt under control?  What happened with that?  Is anyone actually drafting any bills to get any of those recommendations made into law?  I haven't heard a peep about it.  Someone, please, get working on that, please, pretty please? 

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