Monday, October 1, 2012

Five years is a long time, children

It’s how long I’ve been blogging, as of three days ago.

1,827 days (including two extra for leap years 2008 and 2012).

43,848 hours.

2,630,880 minutes.

157,852,800 seconds.

And if you had been paying down our national debt of around $16 trillion at the rate of one dollar per second during that entire time, what would you have?

I’ll tell you what you would have. Children, you would have 101359.25461695959780250967990432 more five-year periods to go before our current national debt would be paid off, that’s what you would have.

But if you were rich, richer even than Mr. Romney, and had been able to pay $100 per second instead of that one measly dollar, you would have paid $15,785,280,000 during the past five years and only 1012.60254616959597802509667990432 more five-year periods to go before our current national debt will be paid off.

I just thought you’d like to know for budget-planning purposes.

But here’s the kicker. If every last one of the 311,000,000 Americans had paid down our national debt of $16 trillion at the rate of one dollar per second during the last five years, we would have raised $49,065,350,400,000,000 by now. That’s $49 quadrillion, children, way more than our national debt. Even more than Michelle Obama spends on clothes.

Isn’t it amazing what we can do when we all work together?

This whole exercise is predicated on each American having $157,766,400 with which to have been paying down the national debt during the last five years.

There’s a fly in every ointment.

[Editor’s note. These calculations do not appear to be correct if you are a resident of a British Commonwealth of Nations country, where what we call a billion you call a thousand million and what we call a trillion you call a billion, and so on. --RWP]


  1. What does RWP stand for? Real Workshire Pudding - with a speech impediment?

  2. R.Y.P., where does all this animosity come from?

    RWP means Rhymes With Plague, Relatively Witty Person, Raconteur With Personality, any number of things.

  3. I sincerely apologise if you do indeed have a speech impediment. Of this, I certainly had no idea.... I guess that animosity comes from animals.

  4. And there was me thinking it stood for Romney Wins Presidency or Republicans Will Prevail.

    By the way, although we in the UK like to think that we stick to the acknowledged formula for large numbers - 1,000 x 1,000 = one million, one million x one million = one billion etc - in reality we use the same definitions as you do when it comes to money.

    But if you had gone with our definitions, your national debt wouldn't seem quite so bad.

  5. Y.P., I do not have a speech impediment other than, as Texas Governor Ann Richards (a Democrat) once said of Republican Presidential candidate George Herbert Walker Bush, "He was born with a silver foot in his mouth." In fact, on some days the only time I open my mouth is to exchange feet. But that is not really an impediment. More of a minor inconvenience.

    Shooting Ians, I'm still confused about how you in the UK do money. Crowns, pounds, guineas, oh my. Tuppence and thruppence and ha'pennies and shillings, is there no end to your inventiveness? In my youth, the pound sterling was worth five American dollars and conversion was easy..

  6. UK currency is complicated for a number of reasons:

    1) It has been around a long time so there are coins, notes etc that we still talk about even though we don't use them any more.

    2) We do still use defunct denominations such as guineas, but only if you want to buy a race horse or the services of a barrister.

    3) The now defunct duodecimal allowed for a greater variety of coinage.

    4) Coins have other names and nicknames in the same way that you have nickels and dimes in the US.

    The present decimal currency is actually quite simple and therefore quite dull.