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COMMON SENSE: It's hard to visualize $16,000,000,000,000, just ask your uncle

February 24, 2013

By Brent Davis, editor of The Saline Courier

At 10:30 a.m. yesterday, my debt was $52,504. By the time you read this, the amount will grow second by second … and there is nothing I can do to stop it.
The $52,504 represents my share of the national debt which was $16,538,350,597,830. Visit the website www.usdebtclock.org, but do so at your own peril. The site is full of information, but the most disturbing part of the site is watching the U.S. national debt grow by hundreds of thousands of dollars before your very eyes.
Sometimes numbers are so large, our ability to comprehend the full depth they represent is almost impossible to put into words. Most of the people I know are visual learners. Like the old saying goes, "a picture paints a thousand words." I will do my best to paint a picture of what $16 trillion looks like.
First, let us start with a single $100 bill. This particular denomination is the most commonly forged bill. One hundred dollar bills are banded together in bundles equivalent to $10,000. One bundle is approximately 6" by 2-1/2" by 0.43" high.
For the sake of simplicity, lets imagine one pallet of these bundles equivalent to $100,000,000 (one million dollars). Stack the pallets next to each other on a field. In order to accommodate all of these $100 bills, an area of roughly 224 ft. by 432 ft. by 7 ft. high would be needed. This is approximately 96,768 square feet, roughly 2.2 acres. Imagine the stacks of $100 bills covering a football field so high that Shaquille O'Neal would have trouble seeing the top of it.
So, did this simplify things for you visually or did it confuse you even more than you already were? Maybe not. Even if all that money was on the field at C.W. Lewis Stadium, getting a firm financial grasp of the true magnitude of it all would be overwhelming.
Actually, it isn't all that important to visualize it all. It's more important to visualize how to make it shrink or at least to stop growing at such an alarming pace.
Fixing our countries financial predicament doesn't appear to be on our national representatives radar. They spend time pandering to special interest groups and voter blocks in order to give the impression that actual work is being conducted.

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