spending what you don’t have.

So the budget deficit is going to hit 1.7 trillion dollars this year.  Mind you, that’s just the gap between government expenses and government revenue for the current tax year, not the national debt.

It’s kind of difficult for most people to envision just how much money we’re talking about here, so I’ve done a few calculations.

  • In one-dollar bills, 1.7 trillion dollars weigh 1.7 million metric tons, or 40,000 tractor trailers full of cash. 
  • Stacked up, those bills would make a tower of dollar bills 109,000 miles high, or more than a third of the distance from the Earth to the Moon. 
  • That much paper money would take up a volume of two and a half million cubic yards—enough to recreate one of the World Trade Center towers with stacks of cash, and build a quarter of the second tower.
  • Laid out next to each other, that amount of dollar bills would be enough to cover 6,786 square miles of ground, enough to paper over all of Connecticut and most of Rhode Island.

And that’s just the shortfall for this fiscal year

Giving the power of the purse to people who live by four-year election cycles is like handing your household checkbook to a new accountant every four years to run your finances…and telling him he can write checks that won’t come due until the next guy gets the job.

8 thoughts on “spending what you don’t have.

  1. Ben Hoffman says:

    One of these days, we’ll get a balanced budget amendment to the constitution. Our invasion of Iraq would have never been tolerated if we had to pay for it. And see how many people support tax cuts for the uber-wealthy if it means our taxes going up to pay for them.

  2. perlhaqr says:

    Ben: I want a hard limit on the tax rate before that amendment. Or they’ll just raise taxes to 100% to cover the bill.

  3. Gregg says:

    You appear to be in favor of the current graduated tax scheme. That smacks of class envy to me.

    Personally, I am against a graduated tax scheme. Heck, I’m against income tax altogether. I really think that the government would be kept under better control if each and every citizen were to receive an annual bill. Federal, state and local, itemized with just where their money was spent and how much.

    Yes, that would mean that our elected representatives would have to spend a lot of time explaining some of those items.

  4. Windy Wilson says:

    “Our invasion of Iraq would have never been tolerated”

    Hell, we’d never have gotten past Medicare or even Social Security if your proposal had been the law!
    On the bad side, our military in WW2 might not have been financed either.

  5. karrde says:

    I saw a pictorial representation (using images of stacks of $100-bills) here:


    Per the comments about tax cuts for the rich: see the total amount of tax paid by the wealthiest 1%, 5%, 10%, etc. of American taxpayers in these charts here:

    To put it simply, I have a hard time calling a system that collects 40% of its revenue from the richest 1% of payers as being too easy on the wealthy.

    I also note that this percentage of tax revenue increased from 1999 to 2007, which implies that whatever tax rate cuts happened didn’t decrease the total amount of tax revenue from the wealthiest portion of taxpayers.

    • perlhaqr says:

      I am moderately disturbed to discover that I’m in the “top 10%” but still feel like I’m drowning.

    • Odahi says:

      I wish I could get my socialist sister to even LOOK at this. Her mind is made up. The agenda is set, and she is completely convinced that it represents justice for the poor and downtrodden. History is irrelevant, it hasn’t been tried HERE. Reason cannot penetrate her conviction, because she will discount any data that don’t fit her model. Even data from her own side. “Never underestimate the power of human stupidity.”- Robert Heinlein

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