Visualizing the US Debt

August 05, 2011

I stumbled across this site today and I think it’s a useful tool for getting our mind around the sheer massiveness of the U.S. debt. When was the last time you heard a politician throw around numbers like, “Well, we could raise another trillion in taxes to balance the budget?” This site illustrates just how many one hundred dollar bills that would be.

According to the site, “If you spent $1 million a day since Jesus was born, you would have not spent $1 trillion by now...but [approximately] $700 billion—same amount the banks got during bailout.”

Also, if you stacked the total number of unfunded liabilities into a tower, you would build a structure roughly one and a half times the size of the World Trade Center.

The point is, many of us get so jaded by the tax and spending process that we forget that these numbers represent real purchasing power for people in the private sector.  Last year, the federal government collected a total of 2.3 trillion in taxes. That’s the equivalent of hundreds and hundreds of truckloads of these pieces of paper taken out of the hands of citizens and redistributed according to the will of politicians. It’s certainly thought-provoking.

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