No Fear of the Inconceivable

It is a fact that a person will not fear that which he cannot conceive. In the Biblical days the people who were drowned in the flood were warned repeatedly but they failed to listen. The reason was that they could not conceive of what Noah was telling them about an impending flood that would cover the face of the earth and kill every living thing. It was beyond their ability to understand so they had no fear of it at all. They watched Noah build the ark for 120 years and never took his warnings. It was inconceivable to them that such a thing would happen.

We have a situation today which is inconceivable to the human mind and therefore the public is unafraid of it and that situation is the national debt. We hear a lot about the annual deficit and we have become used to talking about several hundred million dollars as if that, in itself is understandable. We are now engaged in giving away billions and even trillions in a stimulus program. But what about those sums of money? How can the public possibly know the magnitude of the sums of money being discussed? The sums are so vast that the human mind cannot conceive them. I have done some investigating and calculating and I want to try to make it more understandable to people.

Consider this: A million dollars (which, by itself is larger than the average person can conceive) is represented by one thousand, $1,000 dollar bills and it is stack of $1,000 dollar bills 4.75 inches high. One thousand times one thousand is one million. One Billion dollars, and we speak of one billion as amounting to little or nothing in today’s world, is one thousand times one million. So, that stack would be 1000 times 4.75 inches or 4750 inches divided by 12 which is 395.8 feet. So, a Billion dollars is a stack of $1000 dollar bills which is 395.8 feet straight up.

Now, let’s carry it a little farther. One Trillion dollars is equal 1000 times one billion. Now how high is that stack? This is where it really gets scary. One Trillion dollars is a stack of $1,000 dollar bills which is 74.9 miles high. This is calculated by taking the 395.8 feet of the one Billion stack and multiplying it by 1,000. It turns out to be 395,800 feet which is divided by 5280 (one mile) and the result is 74.9 miles. So, a Trillion dollars is a stack of $1,000 dollar bills 74.9 miles high. Our national debt is now about Twenty-seven Trillion dollars. That means that the stack of $1,000 dollar bills representing our current national debt is 2022 miles high. This also means that the astronauts in the International Space Station can look out the window (assuming that they are orbiting at about 250 miles) and it is approximately 1,772 more miles to the tip of the stack! Now, folks…we are talking about a stack of $1,000 dollar bills.

Our government is proposing a stimulus package of 1.9 trillion dollars. If you do the calculations you will find that they are asking the American taxpayer to come up with a stack of $1,000 dollar bills 142.31 miles high in order to stimulate the economy. Every trillion dollars they discuss is a stack of $1,000 bills 74.9 miles high. You do the math. It will soon dawn on you that those people in Washington are dealing with numbers they cannot possibly conceive so that is why they have no fear of the magnitude of what they are wanting to do. One other little example: If each dollar of the 1.9 trillion-dollar stimulus was represented by one second, how long would it transport you back into history? In other words, how long is 1.9 trillion seconds? It is 31,666,666,666.665 minutes…..527,777,777.776 hours…..and 21,990,740.740 days which being divided by 365 days gives you 60,248.604 years back into history. This is long before history was recorded. It also means that it would take 60,248.604 years to pay off the 1.9 trillion dollars at one dollar a second with no new interest added. Now remember our national debt is about 27 Trillion so it would take 856,164.357 years to pay it off at one dollar a second with no new interest. This is hundreds of thousands of years before man.

Staggering isn’t it? Now, you know why our Congress has no fear of what they are asking our country to do. They can’t possibly conceive the magnitude of what they are discussing. I think it is time they face the realities of what they are dealing with and get some semblance of common sense about what they are doing with our money because, as I stated earlier, there is No Fear of the Inconceivable.

William F. Harrell

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