The US Department of the Treasury reported in November 2014 that the national debt topped $18 trillion for the first time. That’s $18,000,000,000,000.00. But with so many zeroes, a trillion of anything (let alone 18 of them) is a number that the human mind has trouble processing.
Government debt, like personal debt, isn’t always a bad thing. Sometimes people need a means to finance the upfront costs like buying a house, a car, or a college education. Like their individual and household counterparts, government at times needs funds to finance projects such as the construction of highways or infrastructure projects.
But when debt is used as a means to continually fill annual budget gaps, and grows to the extent it has today, it becomes a problem. We’re spending money today that must be paid back by our children. Funds needed to pay back debts come from reduced spending in other areas of government (e.g., national defense or every liberal’s favorite project, “roads”) or higher tax bills.
The Heritage Foundation compared federal spending to a typical family budget. The median household income is $52,000. If they spent at the same levels the US government did, the household would spend $61,000 every year – putting $9,000 on a credit card that already has a $311,000 balance.
So to do our part to bring attention to the stark financial future that awaits us if spending and debt levels are not brought into balance soon, we thought we would translate the national debt into various items of interest. If you have an idea for something you’d like us to translate the debt into, let us know in the comments section, or share your thoughts with us on Facebook or Twitter.