# Putting the national debt into perspective we can all understand

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U.S. government borrowing and spending never stops.

The federal government ran another big deficit in June, as the national debt inches closer to \$35 trillion.

\$35 trillion USD.

Trillion with a 'T.'

That's an unfathomable number. It's meaningless to most people. We simply can't comprehend a number that big.

Let's try to put the \$34.9 trillion national debt into perspective.

According to the National Debt Clock, every American citizen would have to write a check for \$103,565 to pay off the national debt.

Of course, a lot of people don't pay taxes. That means the taxpayer burden is much higher. Every U.S. taxpayer would have to write a check for \$266,953 to wipe out the debt.  And that's on top of the taxes we already pay!

To put it another way, \$35 trillion is more than the total economies of China, Japan, Germany, and the UK combined.

## Visualizing one trillion

1,000,000,000,000

It's hard to wrap your head around how big 1 trillion is, much less 35 trillion. Here are a few factoids to help you visualize just how big that number is:

• There are 1 million seconds in 11.5 days. A trillion seconds is about 32,000 years.

• If you could say one number every second, it would take about 11.5 million years to count to 1 trillion.

• If you had spent \$1 million every day since the birth of Christ, you still wouldn't have spent \$1 trillion.

• If you line up dollar bills end-to-end, you could go to the moon and back around 203 times with \$1 trillion. You could wrap them around the earth about 3,893 times.

• If you stacked up 1 trillion dollar bills, the dollar tower would rise to 67,866 miles.

• If a cup of coffee costs \$3, you could buy 333 billion cups of coffee with \$1 trillion.

• If you had 1 trillion dollars, you could give every person on Earth approximately \$125.

• One trillion grains of rice would weigh about 20,000 metric tons.

Keep in mind that all of these examples only illustrate the size of \$1 trillion. The national debt is nearly 35 times that number.

James Madison once called a large national debt a "public curse."

"I go on the principle that a Public Debt is a Public curse and in a Rep. Govt. a greater than in any other."

We're certainly cursed to the tune of \$35 trillion USD.

Thomas Jefferson said he considered “public debt as the greatest of the dangers to be feared.”

In his Farewell Address, George Washington urged us to use debt sparingly – and, get this, actually pay it off as quickly as possible!

"As a very important source of strength and security, cherish public credit. One method of preserving it is to use it as sparingly as possible, avoiding occasions of expense by cultivating peace, but remembering also that timely disbursements to prepare for danger frequently prevent much greater disbursements to repel it."

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