Skip to main content

How much is a trillion?

Published September 08. 2012 09:02AM

A TIMES NEWS editorial this week described our national debt as "something we can't comprehend."

Considering the debt is $16 trillion and climbing, who would comprehend it? Certainly not anyone in Washington.

To put things in perspective, Faye Ruckhardt of Nesquehoning, sent along these facts and figures which might give you some idea just how deep in debt we are.

Here's what she wrote:

Did you know that if you spent one million dollars a day, beginning the day Jesus was born until now, you would have spend three quarters of a trillion dollars? This is the same amount of money the banks got during the bailout.

Consider this:

one million seconds equals 11.5 days.

one billion seconds equals 32 years.

one trillion seconds equals 32,000 years.


one thousand seconds is a coffee break

one million seconds is a vacation.

one billion seconds is a career.

one trillion seconds is 310 centuries.

Want more?

It would take 10 1/2 stacks of one hundred dollar bills reaching from sea level to the edge of space to make one trillion dollars.

As of July, 2012, our national debt is $15,800,365457,260 (15 trillion, 800 billion, 365 million, 457 thousand, two hundred and sixth dollars). The interest alone on the $12,000,000,000,000 that we are saddled with is one million dollars per second.

"Soon our financial system will fall apart," Ruckhardt writes, "and every single American will feel the agony of that collapse. There is no way out of this debt; it cannot be paid back. We are heading toward default, or worse; hyperinflation."

She adds, "We have accumulated the largest debt known in the history of the whole world, and our future generations will suffer from our foolishness. Both parties are to blame. The Republicans and Democrats could have stopped the federal government from accumulating this debt, but neither party has changed. No one is the hero. Everything that we own and have built up is threatened and our government is only giving us lip service."

More facts and figures: It took more than 200 years for the national debt to reach 1 trillion dollars. In 1986 the debt reached two trillion. In 1992 it reached 4 trillion. In 2005 the debt doubled again and reached eight trillion. Now we are about to enter the 16 trillion dollar mark. This represents exponential growth. If the average interest rate on the debt rises to just seven percent, the government will spend more than one trillion per year just on the interest alone.

Ruckhardt concluded: "Our 15 trillion dollar spending binge that we have been enjoying over the past 30 years has fueled the greatest standard of living ever, in the world, but this prosperity won't last. It's a lie. We, like the credit card junkie, have to hit the wall sometime, and we shall share in that experience very soon."

A Lighter Note

Another reader sent in the following list of words, and how their definitions should be described in the dictionary.

ADULT: A person who has stopped growing at both ends and is now growing in the middle.

BEAUTY PARLOR: A place where women curl up and dye.

CHICKENS: The only animals you eat before they are born and after they are dead.

COMMITTEE: A body that keeps minutes and wastes hours.

DUST: Mud with the juice squeezed out.

EGOTIST: Someone who is usually me-deep in conversation.

HANDKERCHIEF: Cold storage.

INFLATION: Cutting money in half without damaging the paper.

MOSQUITO: An insect that makes you like flies better.

RAISIN: A grape with sunburn.

SECRET: Something you tell to one person at a time.

SKELETON: A bunch of bones with the person scraped off.

TOOTHACHE: The pain that drives you to extraction.

TOMORROW: One of the greatest labor saving devices of today.

YAWN: An honest opinion openly expressed.

WRINKLES: Something other people have, similar to my character lines.

Classified Ads

Event Calendar


January 2018


Upcoming Events

Twitter Feed

Reader Photo Galleries