Ad-Express and Daily Iowegian, Centerville, IA

Letters to the Editor

October 10, 2013

Incomprehensible sums

(Continued)

Still not comprehending how much $1 trillion is? Then you’ll like this description by Bill Bryson, one of my favorite authors, from his book “Notes from a Big Country.”

Bryson asks his readers to guess how long it would take to initial and count $1 trillion dollars if you worked without stopping.

“If you initialed one dollar bill a second,” writes Bryson, “you would make $1,000 every 17 minutes. After 12 days of non-stop effort you would acquire your first million. Thus, it would take you 120 days to accumulate $10 million, and 1,200 days — something over three years — to reach $100 million. After 31.7 years you would become a billionaire. But not until 31,709.8 years elapsed would you count your trillionth dollar bill.”

We all understand that very large numbers are OK so long as they add up. So long as we have trillions of dollars coming in to the government to balance out the trillions of dollars we have going out, we should be OK.

But that is the frightening part. We are not even close to covering our spending. Our economy has not recovered enough to generate the growth and tax revenue we need to pay our bills.

Piling on new entitlement programs and lots of new regulations, rules and mandates certainly isn’t helping the recovery.

And so we limp along racking up debt and our leaders are doing little to address this incredible challenge. In fact, we have racked up more than $11 trillion in new debt since George W. Bush assumed office in 2002. We are the proud owners of nearly $17 trillion in debt, a startlingly incomprehensible sum.

Yet too few people worry about it. Who can blame them? After all, $17 trillion is only $17,000 billion.

Tom Purcell is a author and a Pittsburgh Tribune-Review humor columnist.

Text Only
Letters to the Editor
  • Catholic charities help illegal aliens During the 2012 presidential election, Republicans thought they found a sure path to victory. While it was obvious that long-coveted Hispanics weren’t going to budge, a different group (which an overwhelming majority of Hispanics belong) showed promi

    July 23, 2014

  • Solicitation ordinance? The Daily Iowegian will publish an editorial Question of the Week on the Opinion page.The Iowegian wants readers to think about the solicitation ordinance that will prevent groups or individuals from entering a roadway to solicit money. The Centervil

    July 23, 2014

  • Stinking U.S.-Mexican border politics Here’s a modest proposal for solving the “Children’s Invasion” on our southwestern borders.Next time a planeload of “unaccompanied alien children” from Honduras or Guatemala is being dispersed to their relatives in the U.S., the pilot should divert t

    July 23, 2014

  • Don't let Big Oil bully biofuels It’s vacation season across America. That means family road trips are underway and the traveling public is paying even closer attention when they pull up to the pump. Today’s drivers also value clean-burning fuel choices that help the environment and

    July 22, 2014

  • Lerner's illegal instant message trick It was so brazen. Right there, over email, Lois Lerner warned her colleagues “Congress has asked for emails ... so we need to be cautious about what we say in emails.” Then she asked whether the IRS’s instant messaging application was being archived,

    July 17, 2014

  • Going to visit the AC Fair? The Daily Iowegian will publish an editorial Question of the Week on the Opinion page.The Iowegian wants readers to think about the 2014 Appanoose County Fair. It starts Monday and wraps up on Saturday with a demolition derby at 8 p.m.So, the questio

    July 17, 2014

  • Compliance with open meetings law Editor’s Note: This is a monthly column prepared by the Iowa Public Information Board to update Iowans on the IPIB’s activities and provide information on some of the issues routinely addressed by the board.Iowa courts have not yet definitively answe

    July 14, 2014

  • Making time for others Dear Editor,We live in a time where we depend on modern conveniences to save us time. We enjoy the pleasures of having vehicles, computers, dishwashers, running water, electricity, fast food, washers and dryers while expecting these conveniences to f

    July 14, 2014

  • The right to a paid vacation Ah, summer is here. We all know what that means: The rights crowd will demand that our politicians pass new federal laws to make paid vacation mandatory.It is true that the United States is the only advanced economy that does not require employers to

    July 10, 2014

  • Vote for U.S. representative? The Daily Iowegian will publish an Editorial Question of the Week on the Opinion page.The Iowegian wants readers to think about the upcoming election in November. In the next few weeks and months we will ask our readers to pick a candidate in selecte

    July 10, 2014

  • A defensive response and the IRS Ring, ring.“Hello, this is Tom.”“Hello, Tom, this is the federal government. We are going to audit your taxes and want to see all of your records for 2011.”“Sorry, federal government, but my computer crashed in 2011. All of my emails, electronic rece

    June 25, 2014

  • Vote for A.C. Supervisor? The Daily Iowegian will publish an editorial Question of the Week on the Opinion page.The Iowegian wants readers to think about the upcoming election in November. In the next few weeks and months we will ask our readers to pick a candidate in selecte

    June 25, 2014

  • The hard lessons of Iraq Nearly 5,000 of our fine men and women died in Iraq.Who’s going to explain Iraq to their loved ones now?Who’s going to explain why, if it was so important that we had to go to Iraq in 2003, we just walked away?Iraq is back in our living rooms every n

    June 25, 2014

  • 'Safe Routes to School - Balderdash!' ‘Safe Routes to School —Balderdash!’Dear Editor,Safe Routes to School — Balderdash! There is no such thing. There is no such thing as unsafe routes to school either.This was all a ploy for one reason — money, and had absolutely nothing to do with the

    June 24, 2014

  • Facts about unaccompanied minors Here are six facts you need to know about what President Obama fraudulently calls the unaccompanied minors “urgent humanitarian crisis.” First, many minors aren’t unaccompanied. Rather, they’re traveling with their mothers, some pregnant with future

    June 24, 2014

Obituaries
Featured Ads
Poll

The Iowegian wants readers to think about the solicitation ordinance that will prevent groups or individuals from entering a roadway to solicit money. The Centerville City Council in June by a 5-0 vote passed the first reading of just such an ordinance. Public pressure and during a subsequent special meeting, the council voted 3-2 to table the ordinance. A second special meeting to discuss the solicitation ordinance is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 7 at City Hall. So, the question of the week is, "Do you or do you not support the ordinance to prevent solicitation of funds in city streets?"

A. I support the ordinance
B. I do not support the ordinance
C. Not sure
     View Results
Iowegian on Facebook