It's time for a little perspective on President Barack Obama's stimulus bill. Do you have any idea just how much a billion dollars is?
How would you like to spend the rest of your life operating on a budget of $1,000 a day? At this rate, even if you were born yesterday, and even if you spent every penny of it every day, you wouldn't even come close to spending $1 billion in your lifetime. In fact, spending $1,000 a day, it would take you more than 2,000 years to spend $1 billion.
OK, are you ready for some real money? With a trillion being 1,000 billion, spending $1,000 a day it would take more than 2 million years to spend $1 trillion.
Now let's put a trillion in terms of volume. The dimensions of a $1 bill are 2.61 inches wide by 6.14 inches long by .0043 inches thick. Multiplying length, width and depth, we get a volume of about .07 cubic inches for each dollar bill.
Take 1 trillion dollar bills (and sparing you more mathematics) we get a volume of almost 40 million cubic feet. The average U.S. home is about 2,500 square feet. Figure in 8-foot ceilings and the average home is 20,000 cubic feet. Stacking them wall to wall and ceiling to floor, it would take around 2,000 such homes to hold 1 trillion dollar bills.
It truly is staggering. We hear millions, billions and trillion of dollars tossed around so often by politicians, it can be easy to lose sight of how much money is actually being discussed. "Why quibble over $200 million?" New York Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer recently asked. Americans really don't care about all of those "porky amendments," he later added.
Good points, Charles. It's not your money, so why worry about it? This kind of reckless thinking is part of the reason the country is in such a financial mess.
President Obama recently said, "Only government can provide the short-term boost necessary to lift us from a recession this deep and severe." On Jan. 8, after Obama announced his vast government spending plan, Time magazine ran a piece (seen here) entitled, "The Case for Bigger Government."
In it the authors note that "by spending more through government and treating government as a partner rather than an enemy of the private sector, we can potentially save vast sums in the long run through a more efficient health care system, safer climate, more competitive economy and more secure country." With Obama's stimulus plan, "bigger government" is exactly what we will be getting.
Writing for National Review Online, Michael G. Franc recently pointed out just how bad Obama's nearly trillion-dollar stimulus really is. Among other things, he notes that, "The House and/or Senate stimulus bills would undo the 1996 welfare reforms, explode entitlement spending by a cool quarter trillion dollars, lay the groundwork for the federal government's takeover of our health care system, double Uncle Sam's already overbearing role in education, require taxpayers to pick up the bail tab for potentially dangerous felons, allow unemployed Wall Street executives to qualify for Medicaid, and reignite the fires of trade protectionism, thereby risking a global trade war."
Also contained in the House version of the stimulus bill is $200 billion to bail out state and local governments who are up to their eyeballs in debt. Of course this is like robbing Peter to pay Paul, because, as Franc points out, "state taxpayers are also federal taxpayers. Hiking federal taxes to keep state taxes from rising is like running up your Visa card to keep the MasterCard balance from rising. Either way, you will pay."
And pay we will, eventually. Sooner or later all of this debt is going to come due, and almost certainly taxpayers will foot the bill. It is amazing to me that so many smart (so-called) people believe that the solution to a country drowning in debt is more debt.
As South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford recently put it, "A problem that was created by building up of too much debt will not be solved with yet more debt."
Or as Chuck Bentley, CEO of Crown Financial Ministries, recently wrote, "It is illogical to think that the cure for excessive borrowing is more excessive borrowing, but that is exactly what is under way." Mr. Bentley adds that, "The largest economic bubble in history is being created right now. It is the bubble of the ever-expanding federal debt ... New financial obligations of the U.S. government are currently estimated to be at $5 trillion dollars and growing since the bailout legislation passed in October 2008."
According to the U.S. Treasury the total U.S. federal debt stands at $10.8 trillion. This is a prestimulus number. Obama's stimulus plan will only grow this massive debt. This level of indebtedness is simply unsustainable.
"We the People" must come to our senses and bring to an end this madness. We have the power to do so, if we can only muster the will.
Trevor Thomas is a Gainesville resident and frequent columnist; Web site.
His columns appear frequently.