I had to do some head-scratching over the weekend, when I heard that the Bush Administration’s plans to un-tax and spend would, according to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, run the federal deficit back up— way up! It would reach the hitherto unheard-of realm of trillions of dollars. Almost two trillion over the next decade. That’s a 2 with twelve zeroes behind it.
It’s difficult to imagine such a huge number, so play the old comparison game. If we took 2 trillion one dollar bills, which are six inches long each, and laid them end-to-end, they’d stretch for 189 million miles. That’s more than twice the distance from here to the sun. Can’t relate to that? Too much distance involved? How about nearly 800 times the trip to the moon? Then, there’s everyone’s favorite—how many times would they wrap around the earth at the Equator? Try 8 thousand times.
Now, that’s a lot of money, or, in the case of the deficit, a lot of negative money, which is the same thing as debt. It’s a good thing they abolished “debtors’ prison,” which didn’t make economic sense to start with, because with a pile of un-money that big, there’s more than enough to go around to put all of us in the pokey!