Visualizing the National Debt: It’s Sky High

Treasury Wants to Avoid Default

The United States will reach the amount of debt it is legally allowed to carry on Monday, and the Department of the Treasury has stated that in order to avoid a default the U.S. Congress must raise the debt ceiling before August 2nd.

Working on Agreement

President Obama and his administration are working on coming to an agreement with lawmakers which will cut federal spending in exchange for the increase in the debt-limit. The limit that the Treasury is demanding be surpassed is an unimaginable $14.3 trillion.

Reagan’s Debt 67 Miles Tall

Back in 1981 Ronald Reagan also had budget problems. One time, when trying to help US citizens understand the enormous debt that the US was facing back then, Reagan explained that if the US government’s debt could be stacked up as $1,000 bills, the pile would reach about 67 miles high.

Today’s Debt 900 Miles High

That was then. Now the debt of $14.3 trillion would create a pile of $1,000 bills exceeding 900 miles in height. Trade those thousands for ones, and the pile would stretch to the moon and back, twice.According to Stan Collender, and expert on budget issues at Qorvis Communications, said that the largest sum most Americans have ever had in their hands is the $15,140 that players of Monopoly began the original board game with. The national debt increases by about 185 times that amount each and every minute.

What Are We Spending Every Moment?

The following are a few more visuals to help understand the enormous amount of money that the US owes:•    According to the US Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner, the US borrows about $125 billion each month. With that amount of money the US government could by every single one of the 300 million residents of the US an Apple iPad.•    On months which are 31 days long the US borrows about $4 billion each day. That much money converted into dimes would reach around the earth, and then some.•    At this rate, in just one hour the US borrows about $168 million. That is more than the US paid for Alaska back in 1867 (converted into today’s dollars.) In two hours the US borrows more than it paid to France to purchase Missouri, Iowa, and the rest of the land deal known as the Louisiana Purchase in 1803.•    Every second of every day the US borrows more than $40,000. That is more than a year’s worth of tuition, room and board at many of the country’s most expensive universities.•    According to the Congressional Budget Office, the projected total  deficit for the fiscal year 2011 will be about $1.4 trillion.

“The net worth of Bill Gates, roughly around $56 billion, could only cover the deficit for 15 days,” said Jason Peuquet, a policy analyst with the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. “The net worth of Warren Buffet, roughly around $50 billion, could only cover the deficit for 13 days.”

Alyssa Anderson

Alyssa Anderson has been involved in the world of business on several levels for many years. She was the CEO of a start-up high-tech company until its purchase by a global on-line e-business. Alyssa helped formulate marketing strategies for several other companies as an independent consultant, and she has advised local government on methods to achieve appropriate fiscal responsibility. Her opinions are well known through her many editorials which have been published throughout her career in a variety of local and national print media. She has been heard on radio discussing current issues affecting the business community and Alyssa hopes to bring her special brand of commonsense coupled with uncanny insight into her editorial responsibilities as the Business Page editor for Left Justified. Contact Alyssa at alyssa(at)

View all posts by Alyssa Anderson →