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Information \ Bay-Journal Publishing \ Articles Menu |Opinion: Thinking Out Loud

What's a Billion Here and There Anyway?

By Marvin Kusmierz
July 24, 2008

A billion is bantered around so lightly now-a-days that we seldom give much thought to what a billion "really" represents. Numerically, a billion equals 1,000,000,000 of something!

Not impressed by the large number? Then consider this...

    Time benchmarks:
    -- A billion minutes ago... Jesus was alive.
    -- A billion hours ago... we were living in the Stone Age.
    -- A billion months ago... dinasaurs dominated life on earth.
    -- A billion years ago.. single cell organisms of life did not exist.

    Income benchmarks:
    -- At the minimum wage of 7.25/hour a person would have to work 66,313 years to earn a $billion. (8hrs/day, 40hrs/week, 52wks/year)
    -- During an average work span of 40 years a person would have make $25 million per year to earn a $billion. (Effort same as minimum above)

    Debt benchmarks:
    -- To pay only the principle off on a billion dollar loan over 30 years requires a monthly payment of $2,777,777.79.
    -- The National Debt goes up a $billion every 14 hours or 1.7 $billion every day.

    Billion Tid-bit:
    -- According to [Forbes Magazine], there are 1,125 billionairs in the world amounting to an acummulative wealth of $4,400 billion dollars.

A billion is indeed a staggering figure, and it shouldn't be taken lightly when it involves money.

You most likely have heard the statement -- the first five months of a U.S. worker's wages goes towards paying their tax burden. However, fewer understand the many different ways goverment collects this money:

Income Tax, Accounts Receivable Tax, Building Permit Tax, CDL License Tax, Cigarette Tax, Corporate Income Tax (passed on to individuals in cost of products), Dog License Tax, Federal Unemployment Tax (FUTA) Fishing License Tax, Food License Tax, Fuel Permit Tax, Gasoline Tax, Hunting License Tax, Inheritance Tax, Inventory Tax, IRS Interest Charges (tax on top of tax), IRS Penalties (tax on top of tax), Liquor Tax, Luxury Tax, Marriage License Tax, Medicare Tax, Property Tax, Real Estate Tax, Service charge taxes, Social Security Tax, Road Usage Tax (Truckers), Sales Taxes, Recreational Vehicle Tax, School Tax, State Income Tax, State Unemployment Tax (SUTA), Telephone Federal Excise Tax, Telephone Federal Universal Service Fee Tax, Telephone Federal, State and Local Surcharge Tax, Telephone Minimum Usage Surcharge Tax, Telephone Recurring and Non-recurring Charges Tax, Telephone State and Local Tax, Telephone Usage Charge Tax, Utility Tax, Vehicle License Registration Tax, Vehicle Sales Tax, Watercraft Registration Tax, Well Permit Tax, Workers Compensation Tax, etc., etc, ect.

As bad as the present tax burden is for most of us, the prospects are it will only increase in the years ahead! We've accumulated a huge natioal debt that sooner or later will Taxpayer's will have to pay off.

As of this writing, the National Debt stood at $9.5 trillion dollars, that's $9,500 "billion!" Before you go off the deep end, review the chart below that compares our nation's debt verses our GDP (enconomic strength).

National Debt Clock: Chart & Clock courtesy of ZFacts.com

Our debt as a nation becomes a problem when we have less capability to pay it down. We were able to paydown the huge debt of the 1950s because we came out of WWII as the world's most powerful economy. Note that the Viet Nam was of the 1960s did not impair our ability to pay down our national debt. The U.S. trade deficit set in during the late 1970s with the first oil shortage. It has been on an upward climb since them. The deficit when up rapidly during President Reagan's term which inherited double digit inflation. Taxes were cut and major expenditures were made to build up of the military. A combination that pushed the deficit dramatically. -- An interesting reading on , "National Debt Game: The $9 Trillion Secret." can be read at [Facts.com]

The sinking value of the U.S. dollar has made good made in the U.S. less expensive to foreign buyers which has helped to increase our exports, but it also increase costs on import products, making the cost of goods higher for U.S. citizens.

The import most serious to the U.S. economy is the price of oil. Gasoline prices are soar above $4.00/gal. This not only affects consumers at the gas pump, but in the goods they purchase at stores as higher costs for transporting these products are passed onto the consumer purchasing the products.

The present oil crisis could have been avoided decades ago. Ever since the oil embargo of the late 1970s, polticians have promised to work on a solution to reduce the nation's dependence on oil imports. Instead our dependence on foreign oil has increase to nearly 70%

We haven't done a very good jobs ourselves. We keep re-electing the same poltitions in office that we complain about today.

Our constitution plays the power of our country in to the hands of its citizens. That means voters can and should vote wisely. It is better to vote against encumbant whenever indoubt about the best choice. Doing will send a strong message to Congress to get serious about doing what's in the nations best interest.

We have many important issues that can affect our financial welling being.

Social Security:
It's running out of money. Those fortunate enough to have a job today may need it for rest of their lives as Congress has yet to deal with making Social Security solvent. Don't blame the Bush administration for this one... they tried to deal with it, but were soundly beaten by their adversaries who offer no alternative.

Looming Inflation:
Energy costs, a week U.S. dollar, rising unemployment are going sink our economy into a dismal state. We are stay afloat by borrowing more billions of dollars from countries we consider hostile?

Military Strength:
Before the Irag War began we were led to believe our military was strong enough to fight several conflicts around the world. Well we are fighting limited wars in Irag and Afganistan with exhuasted full time and reserve soldiers who cannot get relieve because our military is spread to thin. Such weakness is extending these wars and could provide encouragement for other costly hostilities cropping up that a strong military might deter.

Healthcare:
Costs in the medical services have been climbing at double rates annually for well over a decade. An increasing number of people have no health insurance, and this number is moving rapidly upward as more cannot afford the cost of insurance whether or not they are employed. Congress in its twisted financial wisdom, passes legislation that allows drug companies to sell drugs at a higher prices in the U.S. than in other countries.

If you need more motivation to act, consider the following history:

    A Century ago... None of the taxes we now pay existed, the nation was prosperous and there was no National Debt.

    50 years ago... A single income supported a family and children were raised by a full time parent.

    25 years ago... the present energy crisis would not exist if we had acted then.

Act today by letting your elected presentatives know you want them to come up with solution to the nations problems. This is your right and responsibilty as a citizen whether not you are a registered voter.

Contact "your": [President] [Congressman] [Senator] [MI Representative] [MI Senator]


Related Resources:
  • [Wikipedia: Economy of the U.S.]
  • [U.S. National Debt Clock]
  • [Graph: National Debt & GDP]
  • [Wikipedia: U.S. Public Debt]
  • [Wikipedia: U.S. Tax History]
  • [Military Strength: Warfare and the Globe]
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