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Every couple of years, right before elections, certain topics are frequently discussed, then fade into the background once politicians have secured your vote.
Budget deficits and the national debt are among the ones that come up most often.
Debt is also among the most difficult topics for the average person to understand. After all, if you’re an average South Carolinian making $32,000 a year, it is difficult to understand exactly how much money $1 trillion is.
A trillion is a million multiplied by a million. To put that number in perspective, if the average South Carolinian works for 45 years, he or she will earn about $1,440,000 in their life. That means to get to $1 trillion, you would have to take the lifetime earnings of about 694,450 South Carolinians. That is about a third of our state’s current work force.
Our country’s debt recently went over the $16 trillion mark. Based on 2010 census figures, that means every man, woman and child in the country would have to fork over a little more than $51,000 to pay off out country’s debt.
Unfortunately, that number is not static. Our debt increases by more than $3.86 billion a day. That means your personal share of our country’s debt increases by $12.33 every day, more than $86 a week and about $4,488 a year.
The numbers are actually much higher than that per taxpayer, instead of per resident. Almost triple, in fact.
One of the best analogies to paint a picture of how large $1 trillion is this: If you spent $1 million a day, every day from the time Jesus Christ was born until now, you would not yet have spent $1 trillion. In fact, you’d still have several centuries to go.
If you spent a dollar a second, it would take you 31,000 years to spend $1 trillion. It would take you 496,000 years to spend $16 trillion.
The federal government spent more than $454 billion just paying the interest on our debt last year.
When Ronald Reagan took office in 1981, our country’s debt was less than $1 trillion. It has skyrocketed in recent years. The debt increased by nearly $4.9 trillion in George W. Bush’s eight years as president. In just under four years of Barack Obama’s presidency, the debt has grown by more than $5 trillion.
That’s right at $10 trillion in less than 12 years.
The debt has grown by more than $3 million in the time it took you to read this editorial.
Maybe this is a topic that needs to be discussed more often than every four years.