You owe $6,004,323,827,172.06

goverment website

According to my SOs economics teacher, the only thing that is being done to alleviate the national debt is the bills being passed to raise the limit. Does it bother anyone else that the government silently uses creative accounting practices to disguise the not-so balanced budget and steadily increasing national debt? FWIW, our government owes most of this money to OPEC. That’s another thread altogether.

note to mods: this might turn into a BBQ Pit thread, sorry if i mis-posted

The main thing is that you can relax a bit - it’s not all that bad.

First off, you need to think of the national debt not in terms of dollars but in terms of percentage of GDP. (Think of it this way: Bill Gates can afford a larger mortgage than I can.) In the US, the national debt as a percentage of GDP peaked in 1982 and has been dropping since. Every year we’re deeper in the hole in terms of gross dollars, but less in the hole in terms of percent of our income.

Also, nations running a national debt aren’t unusual - they’re the norm. And I don’t believe the national debt in the US (when expressed in terms of percentage of GDP rather than gross dollars) is all that large compared to other countries.

This is the first I’ve heard that our national debt is owed to OPEC - I’ve always heard that it’s owed mostly to ourselves. Those of use that have been investing portions of our pension plans in fixed-rate securities, for example, own quite a lot of treasury bills. (That doesn’t mean you’re wrong, it just means it’s the first I’ve heard of it - but I would have expected to have heard of this before if it was true.)

Another incorrect bill from Seattle City Light?

The news around here has been about a new software program that the city of Seattle has been using folks electric bills. Some folks have been getting bills in the thousands of dollars. I thought maybe another one slipped through.

I’ll get my checkbook.


I’ll take care of the .06, Bill Gate can handle the rest.

Heck, I’ll chip in. I got the $2 covered.

Then I guess I’ll just take the decimal point between the 2 and the 06. :slight_smile:

What?!?? I just paid my taxes!!

Why should we be satisfied with only 6 trillion?!? This is America, dammit, and I think we should owe at LEAST seven!!

It’s those damned Canadians, I swear… that lot’s scared of big numbers.


WillGolfForFood hits the nail right on the head. If your idea of a nail is red and made out of Jello.

His/her post is standard revisionist crapola. The national debt is scary, it was run up for no good reason, putting us in jeopardy if we really needed the money. (Perhaps, now, for example.) Percent of GDP and “other countries do it” is all hooey. We could have had a really great 90’s economically if we weren’t wasting so much dough servicing the debt. It’s the single biggest budget item. Bigger than your least/most favorite use of government by far. Think about that. Think what your taxes would be if we didn’t have to pay all that interest.

Money is a finite quantity. It can be used for good purposes, or thrown down rat holes. Paying huge amount of interest on money thrown down rat holes is more than sad. We could have put all that to so much better use.

And when the govenment’s own little Enron-esque SS accounting scheme runs into the ground, we’ll all learn the truth about “percent of GDP and other country’s do it” thinking. Even WillGolfForFood.

Nonsense. There is a finite number of bills in circulation, but the money supply is as big as people are willing to accept it to be.

Let me be the first to say “huh”? I’m afraid that I’m unable to concieve of any way in which my comments could be called “revisionist”.

That’s going to come as news to all of the statisticians I know <g>. Seriously, you have to deflate these kinds of numbers by a standard size statistic if you’re going to make any realistic comparisons. Otherwise you’ll be convinced that the cause of our economic woes is that we spend far more on asparagus than the Norwegians do.

We did have a really great 90s economically. The Dow Jones average more than quadrupled during the 90s - and dividend payouts aren’t even included in the Dow.

Elaborating on SPOOFE’s reply, here’s the basic treatise in economics by The Master.

Elaborating on SPOOFE’s reply, here’s the basic treatise in economics by The Master.

If we really owe all the money to OPEC, then it’s incentive for OPEC nations to protect us against further attacks, no?


It’s incentive for us to find alternative sources of energy so they can’t screw us. When OPEC raises the prices for oil, our entire economy is disturbed. Same for when they lower prices. This is really pretty serious stuff. Yes, stating the national debt in terms of percentage of GDP puts it in better perspective, but the numbers are still ridiculous. The government has broken their own limit and no one is doing anything about it. Why can’t we take them to court like we did Enron for the same accounting practices ??? Remember when Clinton said he balanced the budget? He didn’t. He just messed with the numbers to make it look like he balanced the budget.

No? Somebody at least tried to balance the budged and did so by appropriating the monetary surplus from the agency I work for.

If Congress really wants a balanced budget, they can start by cutting their $150,000 per annum salaries!

I said:

Everybody reading this thread pay very close attention to this statement. It contains two basic flaws.

It takes a “very special mind” to contradict the statement that money is a finite quantity.

The absurdity of the other revisionist (as in “when Jimmy Carter was President, a small national debt was horrible, but when Ronald Reagan was President, a huge national debt was okey-dokey”) arguments are at the same level.

Note also I was talking about the government’s money, not the whole money supply in general. It is quite senseless to attack someone on an issue they were not at all talking about. But in any case, neither the goverment or American society has an infinite amount of money!

We had a good run in the '90s. We didn’t have a great run. We only mangaged to partially make up for the damage from the “double recession” of the early 80’s and the later Bush “slowdown”. Core numbers on poverty and inner city employment got better, but not back to previous levels. (I don’t count how the rich do as a viable economic indicator, in fact it correlates as a negative.) You can’t have a strong long term economy when the number of lower class people is increasing. They make really lousy consumers.

Moderator’s Notes: You folks wishing to debate the difference between the terms money, money supply, and paper money, can take it elsewhere. Try IMHO for MacroEcon 101, or GD for MacroEcon 201.


is derogatory when used in this sarcastic manner. You’ll not post in that vein again in this forum. Insults are restricted to the Pit.

Finally, arguments over the relative prosperity, or lack of it, in differening eras do not belong in this forum either. Try the aforementioned GD.

And that’s no revisionist crap. That’s the way it’s always been.

We don’t owe all the money to OPEC, and that is not what I said. We owe most of the money to OPEC (i.e. we owe more money to OPEC than we do anyone else). We owe some of the money to Germany, some to Japan, and some to citizens. The scary thing about bonds is that when you come to get your money back from the government, they simply issue larger bonds to pay for the money that you took out. THe government is repeatedly spending its own debt. The way we pay off OPEC follows the same pattern.

Just doing my part to fight ignorance. This is a BIG DEAL.