Featured Column
Week of 7.12.2004
"Brother, can you spare a billion?"
Our growing national debt
          You probably didnít know that your share of the U.S. national debt is $24,644.38 and itís increasing every minute. That means that if youíre the family breadwinner in a family of four your share of the national debt is $98,915.83 and that figure is increasing every minute.
           Even if you donít feel personally responsible for your share of the national debt the immediate impact on you of this outlandish debt is interest payments from your taxes. As long as there is a debt there are interest payments.
           The outstanding public debt of the U.S. is (get readyÖ) $7,257,998,444,367. Thatís trillions (more on that later).
            The interest-only amount of the national debt year-to-date is $198,959,066,240.23 As the breadwinner in your family of four your share of this interest, this year, is $2709.89.
           With the estimated population of the United States at 294,509,281 that means that each of us citizensí share is $24,644.38 (and this figure has risen a few hundred dollars in the few seconds it took me to type that number!).
          Now, letís put a trillion dollars in some kind of understandable way. If you had started a business on the day Jesus was born and your business lost a million dollars a day, every day, for 365 days a year, it would take you until October 2737 to lose a trillion dollars. It now takes more than all the income taxes collected just to pay the interest on the national debt (and you thought your monthly Visa statement was scary!).
           And the cost of the war in Iraq, which can be added to our debt - $119,418,815,571. Only 87 billion was requested for Iraq war expenses.
          To give you another perspective consider this. A billion is a thousand million. A billion looks like this, 1,000,000,000. A billion seconds ago it was 1959. A billion minutes ago Jesus was alive. A billion hours ago our ancestors were living in the stone age.
          A trillion is a thousand billion, which is a one with 12 zeros 1,000,000,000,000.
          As an exercise, if you were to count to 369,472,888,227, taking approximately 6 seconds for each number you counted it would take you 190,259 years to reach just one trillion. 
          Individual income taxes account for only 46% of the national budget. Corporate income taxes bring in only 11%. Social Security insurance payroll taxes bring in 34%, with excise taxes and miscellaneous bringing in the balance.
          You can imagine what youíre going to have to shell out for taxes in 5 or 10 years the way things are going.
          Your paycheck is going to be a disaster area. The taxes you pay today will look mild compared to what they will be in the future. 
          Think about this Ė our national debt is increasing an average of $628 million every day.
          Oh, yes, maybe now you can see how important your vote is. If we all paid a little more attention to what our elected representatives were spending our paychecks might be a bit more formidable. Maybe weíd all have a few more bucks to spend Ė on fun things.
      Ron was born in the Bronx, New York. He was raised in Southern California and lived in Honolulu, Hawaii for three decades. He attended Inglewood High School and U.C.L.A.. His youthful goal was to become a major league baseball player. In Hawaii Ron played on a series of championship softball teams. He is an active tennis player.
      Ronís career began at the Inglewood Daily News where as a youngster was enrolled in a publisher training program. He served as an advertising salesman, circulation manager, writer and layout and design staffer. He has been a newspaper publisher at the Oregon City Oregon Enterprise Courier, the Beloit Wisconsin Daily News, the Elizabeth, New Jersey Daily Journal and This Week Magazines (Hawaii).
      Ron lives with his wife, Marilyn, in San Diego, California. His two children, Douglas and Diane also live in the San Diego area. Ronís interests range far and wide and are reflected in his columns diverse topics.
Ron Cruger