Saturday, February 14, 2009

How big is it?...

Regardless of your political party or ideological leanings, the notion of the federal government spending $2 trillion, adding to the national debt of nearly $11 trillion already, should make you stop and consider the staggering size of our national tab.

If the irony of using debt-based spending to solve a problem caused by debt-based spending has escaped you (I doubt it has), perhaps these fun facts will put things into perspective:

* If you spent $1 every second, you'd have to keep spending for 412,000 years to get to $13 trillion. That means you'd have to start shortly after the time human beings first starting using stone tools and fire to get to $13 trillion today.

* $13 trillion in one dollar bills weighs 28 million pounds. That's as much as 87 blue whales or 462 Statues of Liberty.

* If you laid 13 trillion one-dollar bills end-to-end they'd reach from the earth to the sun and back...five times over. That's 946 million miles of greenbacks.

The amount we're looking at now—roughly $2 trillion between Treasury Secretary Geithner's new bank bailout plan and President Obama's stimulus package—isn't small potatoes either. So what is $2 trillion?

* $2 trillion is bigger than the entire Gross Domestic Product of our neighbor to the north, Canada. In fact, according to the IMF, only Japan, Germany, China, the United Kingdom, France, and Italy have bigger total economies than the combined bailout/stimulus plan—all other countries on Earth have economies smaller than $2 trillion per year.

Then there's the interest on this staggering debt, which isn't exactly small. Paying the interest on the current $10.7 trillion debt cost Americans $451.1 billion last year alone. How big is that?

* That's $1478 dollars in interest for every man, woman, and child in the United States.

* That's bigger than the annual budgets of New York ($121.1 billion), California ($111.1 billion) and Texas ($83.8 billion) combined.

If you're scared, upset, or disgusted by this, you can do something. Visit and tell your Congressman and the President what you think of the bank bailout and stimulus.

[Normally I would post a commentary and simply link to this information online; however, this time no commentary from yours truly is even necessary.]


Anonymous said...

And the Republicans can't even say much since George Bush and Hank Paulson said we were all going to die if they were not given a blank check for 700 billion back in September. And to think there are some stupid sons of bitches promoting Jeb Bush.

GiantsCauseway said...

Economics spend yourself out of a recession.

Tom said...

After the national debt doubled under Bush from $5T to $10T, it is hard to listen seriously to conservatives complain about spending $2T to try to prevent a depression that would make the debt look like a small problem. Sorry. Depression is not an option.

David Adams said...

You realize, of course, that you are trying to change the subject. I hope that makes you feel better, because it sure doesn't help anything else.

You're right. My Econ 101 book did say that. But if you look back at the last seventy years of real life, that approach has piled a sick amount of debt on our heads. At some point we have to stop digging.

Can't you see that if excessive spending got us out of problems we surely wouldn't be in one now?

Tom said...

Actually, spending didn't put us in the problem we are in now. Wall St screwed up big time to crash the banking sector with exuberant lending and risky insurance and investments. None of the "fun facts" about the $Trillions to be spent is relevant to the problem or solutions. To end this, money has to flow. Banking and investment is hog-tied with fear until they see people spending money, buying goods and houses. If they are out of work, the government will have to hire them.

Kentucky Progress said...

Money has to flow from where, Tom?

Neither confidence nor money comes out of thin air. We can't artificially generate enough of either to keep the economy just like it was last year. The way out is to quit propping up bad businesses. When investors see a decent chance to make a good return on their money, they will go back in and everything will be fine. We will have to get past the idea that the government can mandate that whole process.

Tom said...

I don't see this government trying to mandate anything. All they can do is give some confidence that there is some stability and some back-up where necessary. It hasn't happened yet but I bet AIG and others will be let to drop on the floor, break up and investors will find pieces to pick up. It may be time now... I don't know. Our Gov't can't control the whole process, can't make anyone invest. But they can nudge and cajole and prod. But that is just the banking/investing part which will take up too much time. In the meantime keeping infrastructure projects, education, health going keeps people employed on things we need anyway. We have an airport that needs more hangar space and lots of unemployed people... get the local contractors working, everyone around benefits. Investors won't get back in unless they see stability and control return.

Dawn McCurry Shuler said...


First of all, thank you for being brave enough to use an actual name. It certainly feels more like a dialog that way, even though we don't agree.

Having thanked you for naming yourself, now I'll take you to task. It is sad to see that your argument is very typical of most Liberals who visit this blog... when Conservatives point out a problem with government gone wrong, we are told (or it is implied) that we have no right to complain because some Republican in DC is actually to blame for the problem.

That's no argument. That's just silly. Most Conservatives in the capital C sense of the word are thinkers -- we understand the difference between Republican and Conservative, the difference between fascism and freedom, the difference between groupthink and intellect.

As a matter of fact, Republicans were fast becoming the antithesis of Conservative until the Democrats won the right to dictate "fiscal responsibilty" from Capitol Hill. "Conservative" with a capital "C" is Goldwater Conservatism which is very close to Libertarianism.

I have every right to complain about the government -- regardless of the political party in residence in the White House -- spending MY tax dollars on anything not devoted to performing the CONSTITUTIONAL job of the Federal Legislative branch. I have a huge problem with legislators running amok into the private sector and interfering with what used to be more or less a free market.

The Liberal idea of what the Nanny State ought to do with taxpayer money has proven to be nothing more than failure all throughout history. It's not a theory. It's been proven in practice over and over again. Period.

Liberal economics is no friend of freedom and it's no friend of mine. I'll complain as often and as loudly as I like. I'll vote Libertarian and work a lot harder in the future to get the faux conservatives out of office.

These next four years promise to end badly for everyone concerned. Call me a pessimist but this is shaping up to be a depression no matter who is to blame.

Dawn McCurry Shuler said...

David, thanks for adding to the conversation and attempting a dialog. I get called away from this blog a lot more than I used to and it's nice to have the viewpoint of it represented so very well!

What scares me the most is that the Economics 101 of yesteryear is simply not the right textbook for a global and fast-paced economy like ours now. Americans aren't stupid and they've learned far more from their parents and grandparents than economists are giving them credit for.

The Dave Ramsey "Financial Freedom" classes are full and he is wildly successful. Why? Because people have finally learned to do the math -- delay gratification and save the money first = no interest payments to the fat cats in the nice skyscrapers downtown anymore = more money in our own pockets again.

If you ask me, we could learn a few things about new finance from the Fair Tax folks. If you want us to spend our way our of a recession, give us 100% of our paychecks and tax us on what we consume instead of what we produce. You get more of what you reward and less of what you tax.

Gee, wouldn't that help appease the environmentalists too? Recycle and buy used goods which wouldn't be taxed under the Fair Tax. It's a win-win for both sides, except for the "Progressive" side which sees the Constitution and Amendments as fluid and dyname but demands that the 16th Amendment be chiseled into stone.

Seriously, I do believe it's the answer to most of what ails us. Check it out for yourself at

Tom said...

It is your Constitutional duty to complain about your government, like I have for the past 8 years. I didn't say you shouldn't, just that I found it hard to listen to complaint about Obama's policies. You may be surprised to learn I work for a defense contractor on a very solid program for the AF. I am quite glad the defense budget is strong and that I and hundreds if not thousands of my co-workers on this program are getting paid and contributing to the economy. That is government spending. The roads I drive on, the cops that allow me to leave my home for 12 hrs a day, the EMTs on my route ready to scrape me off the road, all government spending. Conservatives complain about government but expects someone to be there when the old ticker stops, or the house catches fire, or the Madoff steals our money, or the Chinese sell us tainted food. Nothing is free. It is better to make it work than to do nothing and see what happens.

People have to get to work or keep their jobs, there isn't enough unemployment insurance to deal with a true depression. I don't know what you mean about spending didn't work before, FDR spent a bunch and then spent a whole bunch more when Hitler decided to make the decision easy for him. The war was just very unproductive with all the stuff made that was used up within months. But we got out of the depression.

Tax reform would be great, I was in favor of the One Tax idea a few years ago, I don't know what the Fair Tax thing is. Efficient revenue is what is needed, so that everyone pays their fair share. I support a line item veto, as long as it is overrideable by congress, that would make it Constitutional. See, a godless liberal can think also.

But to say that government should be minimal... where do you think the forces behind these computers came from? Private industry is only part of the equation. A lot of incentive to create comes from government. Otherwise we'd still be writing letters to newspapers. Libertarianism seems to be fear based and not productive.

Silly:"* $13 trillion in one dollar bills weighs 28 million pounds. That's as much as 87 blue whales or 462 Statues of Liberty."