Tumbleweed admits that this is an unusually long post. Then again, a trillion dollars is a lot of money. It takes a special perspective to come to grips with it. The next time you hear a politician use the word “billion” in a casual manner, think about whether you really want that politician spending your tax money. Then, think about “trillion,” which you hear increasingly from the hallowed halls of our government. Let’s see, to truly grasp the number it’s got to be more than the fact that a trillion is a thousand billion.
A billion is a difficult number to fully comprehend. By comparison, a trillion is absolutely mind-boggling. So, let’s get some perspective:
- A billion seconds ago, it was 1976 (a trillion seconds would put you at roughly 30,000 B.C.).
- A billion minutes ago, Jesus was alive.
- A billion hours ago, our ancestors were living in the Stone Age.
- A billion days ago, no one walked on the earth on two feet.
- A billion years ago, the earth was pretty much a molten mass…and a trillion years ago our solar system likely didn’t even exist.
- A billion dollars ago was less than 2 hours ago at the rate our Federal government is spending it.
Now, let’s see. The U.S. national debt as of November 2017 is $20,597,790,000,000. Hmmmm! The Gross Domestic Product is a mere $19,420,000,000,000. So, the debt represents 105 percent of the U.S. GDP. That is as bad as it seems. Of course, politicians quickly point to Japan at 230 percent debt to GDP and Greece at 177 percent. Of course, those two economies are in the proverbial toilet.
Actually, did you ever notice that the typical calculator won’t even permit you to enter a billion? Hmmmmm. So, what does one TRILLION dollars look like?
All this talk about “stimulus packages” and “bailouts” and “temporary spending bills”… A billion dollars… A hundred billion dollars… One TRILLION dollars… What does that look like? I mean, these huge dollar numbers are tossed around like so many doggie treats, so I thought I’d try to get a sense of what exactly a trillion dollars looks like.
We’ll start with a $100-dollar bill. Currently, it’s the largest U.S. denomination in general circulation. Most everyone has seen them, slightly fewer have owned them. Guaranteed to make friends wherever they go. A packet of one hundred $100 bills is less than 1/2″ thick and contains $10,000. Fits in your pocket easily and is more than enough for week or two of shamefully decadent fun. The next little increment is $1 million dollars (100 packets of $10,000), and you could stuff that into a standard grocery bag. While a measly $1 million might look a little unimpressive, $100 million is a bit more respectable. It fits neatly on a standard pallet about waist high. However, with $1 BILLION dollars, we’re really getting somewhere. It would fill eight of those waist-high pallets. Getting scary isn’t it?
Next, we’ll look at ONE TRILLION dollars. This is that number we’ve been hearing so much about. What is a trillion dollars? Well, it’s a million million. It’s a thousand billion. It’s a one followed by 12 zeros. You ready for this? It’s pretty surprising. A trillion dollars would require three football fields of those pallets stacked double high with $100 bills. MIND BOGGLING!!!
So, the next time you hear some politician toss around the term “trillion dollars”… that’s what they’re talking about
The government will have taken in $3.21 trillion for fiscal year 2017 while spending was pegged at roughly $3.7 trillion, an “automatic” deficit of $490 billion. The U.S. national debt is $20.6 trillion and interest is $2.4 trillion of which we will pay annual interest of more than $228 billion (there are those big numbers again). We will have spent $1.3 trillion more on so-called “entitlements” (Social Security, Welfare, Unemployment, Housing, & Medicare) than we will have spent on defense of our nation ($1.9 trillion vs. $569 billion). Besides borrowing, where does that money come from? Bet you can’t read the following in a single breath:
Accounts receivable tax, building permit tax, commercial driver license tax, cigarette tax, corporate income tax, dog license tax, individual federal income tax, state income tax, multiple healthcare taxes, capital gains tax, business taxes, federal unemployment tax, social security & other payroll taxes, excise tax, energy tax, healthcare tax, fishing license tax, food license tax, fuel permit tax, gasoline tax, hunting license tax, inheritance tax, customs duties, estate & gift taxes, inventory tax, IRS interest taxes (tax on top of tax), IRS penalties (another tax on top of tax), liquor tax, luxury tax, marriage license tax, Medicare tax, property tax, real estate tax, service charge taxes, road usage tax (truckers), sales tax, recreational vehicle tax, state income tax, state sales tax, state unemployment tax, telephone federal excise tax, telephone federal universal service fee tax, state local telephone surcharge tax, telephone recurring and nonrecurring charges tax, telephone usage charge tax, telephone state & local tax, utility tax, vehicle license fee, vehicle registration fee, watercraft registration tax, well permit tax, building permit fees, workers compensation tax…anyone laughing? Oh, and now we’ll add 23 new taxes and a penalty connected with the “Affordable” healthcare law.
Now, I hope you’re seated. NONE (zero, zilch, nada, nil), none of these taxes existed 100 years ago! AND our nation was the most prosperous in the world.
Just 125 years ago, we had absolutely no national debt, we had the largest middle class in the world, we were mostly pretty self-sufficient, divorce was rare, television was nonexistent, Twitter was what you felt when you were in love, AND moms stayed home to raise and often home school the kids. We didn’t need bailouts or stimulus packages, the Federal Reserve wasn’t, paper money was backed by gold and silver, and no nation messed with us. In fact, the government didn’t mess with us very much. We weren’t perfect, but… arguably we were in better shape than today.
If you’re ready to hyperventilate, go to www.usdebtclock.org.
Anyone check lately about whether “entitlements” are in the U.S. Constitution? Uh-oh. They aren’t, are they? What happened? Whose money is being spent? Whoa, wait, that’s our money!
Can you spell g-r-e-e-d? Can you spell l-i-e-s? Can you spell p-o-l-i-t-i-c-i-a-n-s? How about P-r-o-g-r-e-s-s-i-v-e-s? E-n-t-i-t-l-e-m-e-n-t-s?
Billions…trillions…numbers that are so overwhelming that we’ve become numbed to them. We hear them bandied about in the media, but since we can’t conceive of ever attaining those numbers for ourselves we tend to tune out the news. Should we?
There are idiots out there that want to give even more free stuff from government coffers to citizens. All we need to do is get rid of spending on defense and tax billionaires more heavily. So, aside from our enemies coming in and walking all over us, let’s take away the sources of investment for the businesses that employ our workforce. Putting aside that most billionaire wealth is tied up in investment (e.g., corporations, real estate, etc.) that’s not taxable as income, all the U.S. billionaires net worth combined could barely put a dent in the national debt.
Maybe what we actually need is p-o-l-i-t-i-c-i-a-n-s with f-i-s-c-a-l r-e-s-p-o-n-s-i-b-i-l-i-t-y.