Sunday, April 17, 2011

George LeMieux Campaign's Math Problem

I was wandering around the internet this afternoon, when I discovered something funny on George LeMieux's website for his U.S. Senate campaign.

The website has a lot of the elements you'd expect: the patriotic color scheme, the mandatory adorable family photo, event updates, and several statements about how LeMieux is a "taxpayer hero" who is campaigning "to get America's financial house in order."

Then I noticed something funny:

George LeMieux Campaign Website's Math Problem from Sunshine State Sarah on Vimeo.

Yep. LeMieux's website says that the U.S. national debt is $14 million. Hate to be the bearer of bad news, but our debt is actually $14 trillion.

14 million is only one millionth of 14 trillion. Makes it a little hard to "Fight the Debt" if you're only tackling 0.0001% of it.

Hmmm, I wonder if LeMieux's website is run by Dr. Evil?

George is Fighting the Debt! Well, he's fighting one millionth of it, anyway.
Update: this might be more poor web design than a mathematical error. Note that the above screenshot says "$14,334,465.90" and then "million" below it? Because a trillion is a million million, that's technically correct, but it looks really weird.

I have never seen a dollar figure written out as a long number but then abbreviated that way. If you're going to write out the number, write out the whole number! This is a confusing misrepresentation of what our national debt actually is.

Update #2: The website was updated within a few hours of my original post. Here's an updated screenshot:

As you can see, it now says "millions." Points to Harris Media for paying close attention to what's being said about their products, and for a very quick response. Still, I have to say that this seems like a weird way to show the debt figures.


  1. FYI, the U.S. National Debt Clock website is

  2. that's hilarious. why would lemieux write it that way? I agree with you, it looks weird, and messes up the point about how big the debt is.

    Campaign messaging FAIL.

  3. Who writes a million millions instead of trillion? That just sounds stupid.

  4. Seems petty to me. Lemieux's website was and is correct.

  5. What's the point of listing the national debt on your website in the first place? To point out that it's a HUGE number.

    Besides the fact that typing it this way was stylistically improper and looks really awkward, it wipes out six whole digits from the number, thereby drastically diluting its impact.


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