How many zeros are there in a trillion? Quickly! Anyone? Few can answer without really thinking about it. Some can’t at all. There are twelve zeros in a trillion: 1,000,000,000,000.
How much is our national debt? Quickly! Anyone? Few can answer without really thinking about it. Some can’t at all. There are twelve zeros in our national debt: 19,000,000,000,000, and growing so fast it’ll be more than 20,000,000,000,000 by the time our next president takes office.
Seems to me we should be talking more about this. It’s not a secret, you can find plenty written about it if you’re looking but the major media outlets must asses that we’re not interested. I get that, they’re really entertainment outlets delivering news and commentary so content is determined by ratings. But we are in the thick of a Presidential campaign season, aren’t we? National security issues are often the subject of speeches and debates yet there hasn’t been one focused on the national debt, which is in fact the primary national security issue.
Heard of the boiling frog? Put a frog in hot water and it will jump out but if you put a frog in cold water and heat the water slowly, the frog will cook. Our national debt didn’t just appear overnight, it’s been rising steadily for the last 35 years. So when are we cooked? Why don’t we feel the heat?
There are just too many zeros in a trillion. It may as well be a gazillion! So let’s put this in a perspective us common folk can appreciate. The median annual household income in the US is about $54,000. How much debt would you think this household could sustain? Maybe $50,000? Maybe more, but not much. Imagine that household was $310,000 in debt. Shocked? It’s worse, their creditors keep loaning them more money. Most of us would say, “Those idiots and their creditors deserve what’s coming to them.” Well, that’s us, I mean the US. The Federal Reserve took in about 3.25 trillion last year and spent about 3.9 trillion so we we are now almost $20 trillion in debt.
President Obama once famously said of the national debt, “I found this national debt, doubled, wrapped in a big bow waiting for me as I stepped into the Oval Office.” It was a good one-liner (he’s good at those) and got good laughs but he must have really liked it since he’ll be giving his successor the same thing.