We are certainly hopeful that with our first jobs we can hope to pull down 1oo dollars a week spending money. As we graduate to professions we begin to consider a thousand dollars a week as a very successful marker for security and stability. The very few of us who have achieved specialized sought for occupations may hope for a cool six figures – one hundred thousand dollars a year that identifies us in the top seven percent of all wage earners. If we aggregate our life time earnings we can envision a million dollars or more over a twenty five to thirty year lifetime of salary. Then there is the highly gifted professional athlete that in rare cases can rake in 25 million or more a year. Lastly, the richest man on earth, Senor Helu’, owner of Mexican Telcom, is worth a staggering 53.5 billion. We can probably agree when we consider such a sum that it is simply unfathomable in size and scope. Perhaps it would be somewhat easier to focus upon if we consider the fact that Senor Helu’ has the equivalent sum that would allow him if so inclined to give each resident of Mexico, a country of 107, 550,000 residents, 497,000 dollars in generous gratuity – if so inclined, which he isn’t. Still, that is at least a way to visualize such a remarkable sum of value.
So, when the government of the United States remarks that it is on its way to its second consecutive year of over 1.4 Trillion dollars in debt, what can we do as regular old human beings to imagine what it is that we owe and should pay our debtors back – if we were so inclined, which we are clearly not. That is a real cunundrum – certainly there are trillions of bacteria, trillions of stars, trillions of atoms, and trillions of ways that the Chicago Cubs will find to blow any chance at a World Series in our lifetimes – all very difficult to visualize in scope. I don’t think we can mentally rap ourselves around such numbers, so I believe we are best served by returning to the value unit of the first one hundred dollars we earned. What would our hundred dollars look like if the United States had to line up one hundred dollar bills to pay its trillion dollar debt?
Unfathomable? Not so fast! Pagetutor.com has done us an enormous favor in providing scale to what we owe. Please follow their presentation and reflect on the trillion dollars a year we add to our debt, the 13.5 Trillion we owe to accumulated debt to our debtors, and the over 100 Trillion we owe in unfunded mandates.