By BOB URBAN

rurban@tnonline.com

I don't know about you, but I'm mystified when politicians and government officials start talking about our national debt, and use figures in the billions and even trillions of dollars.

Any number followed by nine zeros is incomprehensible.

But finally someone put it in layman's terms that even I can understand. Here is the national budget explained in simple English. Thank you. Even I can understand this.

- The United States Tax revenue is

$2,170,000,000,000.

- The Federal budget stands at

$3,820,000,000,000.

- The new debt is

$1,658,000,000,000.

- The National debt is

$14,271,000,000,000.

- The recent budget cut is

$38,500,000,000.

Now that you have digested those numbers, remove eight zeros from the totals and pretend it's a household budget.

Here's what you will come up with.

- Annual family income

$21,700.

- Money the family spent

$38,200.

- New debt on the credit card

$16,500.

- Outstanding balance on credit card

$142,000.

- Total budget cuts which some politicians

are proud about

$385.

Not so big a savings, is it? But who cares? It's not the politicians money being spent. It's the taxpayers who foot the bill for the nine zero figures, even though most of us can't even count that high.

While I confess I don't know much about the magnitude of our national debt, I thought I was more informed about the state I live in. After all, I've been living here well over 60 years, so in that amount of time I should have accumulated some knowledge. Then I took the following quiz and quickly found out I'm not as smart as I thought I was. Of the 15 questions, I got eight correct. That's just a little over 50 percent, which makes me mediocre at best.

See how well you match up. Answers are at the bottom. Don't peek before you've finished.

1. State flower: Mountain Laurel or Azalea.

2. State Flag: Green or Blue.

3. State insect: Firefly or Junebug.

4. State fish: Brook trout or smallmouth bass.

5. State coat of arms: Eagle or dove.

6. State beverage (No, it's not Yuengling): Apple cider or milk.

7. State ship: USS Pennsylvania or US Brig Niagara.

8. State animal: Elk or Whitetail deer.

9. State bird: Ruffed Grouse or Bald Eagle.

10. State dog: Boxer or Great Dane.

11. State Beautification and Conservation Plant: Clover or Crown Watch

12. State fossil: Phacops Rava or Killfish.

13. State seal: Rattlesnake or Lion.

14. State tree: Hemlock of White Oak.

15. State song: Old Pennsylvania or Pennsylvania.

ANSWERS: 1. Mountain Laurel; 2. Blue; 3. Firefly; 4. Brook Trout; 5. Eagle; 6. Milk (told you it wasn't Yuengling); 7. US Brig Niagara; 8. Whitetail deer; 9. Ruffed Grouse; 10. Great Dane; 11. Crown Watch; 12. Phacops Rava (whatever that is); 13. Lion; 14. Hemlock; 15. Pennsylvania (Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania, Mighty is your name, Steeped in glory and tradition, Object of acclaim. Where brave men fought the foe of freedon Tyranny decried, 'Til the bell of independence, filled the countryside. CHORUS: Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania, May your future be, filled with honor everlasting as your history.)