How Much is a Quadrillion, and Why Should You Care?
by John Young
As a scientist and engineer, I’m one of a relatively small percentage of the population that regularly works with numbers of this magnitude. When I heard that the Obama administration’s latest budgets could leave us indebted to the tune of 1.25 QUADRILLION dollars, I knew two things. First, I knew this was very very very bad news. Second, I knew that the number was so incomprehensible as to be practically unreal to most folks.
I’d like to make this number somewhat comprehensible in concrete terms.
Across the country, given the so-called “housing crisis,” the average price of a single family home is $204,000. Obviously, it is more in some places and less in others; but that’s the average. There are currently 6.7 billion people on the planet if you count even newborn babies. 1.25 quadrillion dollars is enough to give every single person, including the infants, their own America-style single-family home.
In the United States, there are 53 million students enrolled in public schools from grades K-12. With 1.25 quadrillion dollars, we could write each of them a check for $23,000,000. With that much money, deposited and earning only 5% interest, each of these students could individually employ 10 teachers each earning $100,000/year in perpetuity. When they are done their K-12 schooling, they could all go to Harvard, stay at the Ritz while attending, buy a brand-new Mercedes every month and still have plenty of spending money without ever touching their principle.
There are roughly 306 million people in the United States if you count illegal aliens and their offspring. With 1.25 quadrillion dollars, we could write every person a check for over 4 million dollars. Since everyone would be a multi-millionaire; there would no longer be issues related to poverty, education, welfare or most forms of criminality.
The thickness of a $100 Federal Reserve Note .0043″. 1.25 quadrillion dollars composed of compressed and stacked $100 bills would be 848,327 miles high. To put that in perspective, the moon’s average distance from the earth is only 250,000 miles. The circumference of the earth is roughtly 24,000 miles, so that’s enough $100 bills to circle the earth 10 times. And, remember — that’s not laid end-to-end, but tightly stacked one on top of the other.
If we were to use ordinary $1 bills, the stack would reach from here to Venus three times.
On an astronomical scale, 1.25 quadrillion miles is approximately how far light from a star would travel in 212 years. To put that into perspective, it only takes light about 4.5 years to reach our nearest stellar neighbor, alpha centuri.
In other words, 1.25 quadrillion dollars is a truly staggering amount of money.
Unfortunately, while I’ve been describing what one could do with that much money as an asset — all of that money is going to be a DEBT. And as a debt, it will take away from our future generations — with interest — everything and more that it could have provided as an asset.
So instead of giving America’s people a check for $4 million; it will be $4 million plus interest extracted from them during their working lifetimes.
A little bit more math should let you see how untenable this is.
The average person works at a primary occupation for 40 years. Usually, wages start low, rise slowly for 10 years, stay at a plateau for about 20 years (called the peak earning years) and then slowly fall for the last 10 years until retirement.
The Median Wage for Nuclear Engineers in the United States, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, is $90,000/year. Assuming that a miraculous engineer earned this much money for all 40 years of his work history, his total lifetime income would be $3.6 million dollars; though, in reality, it would likely be closer to $2.5 million.
Well — if you subtract the $4 million that he owed in taxes from his $3.6 million in earnings; that would leave him having to pay more than he earned. He’d have nothing left over from which he could pay rent, get back and forth to work, put clothes on his back and food on his table. In other words, for all practical purposes he would be unable to survive.
So it is impossible to collect enough taxes to repay that debt; even if every person in America earned $90,000/year.
This is the legacy that Obamunism and the “buy now/pay later” nitwits in Congress are leaving for our children.
But YOU have the power to change that. The only question is whether or not you have the WILL. If you don’t, a $1.25 quadrillion national debt will destroy our civilization. And that is why you should care about what a number that large means.
Entry filed under: Economics.