There are some horrors out there but I don’t mean SAW style torture-porn or even the contents of Jimmy Savile’s hard-disk. Nor do I mean more sophisticated stuff that would make the shades of Edgar Allen Poe and MR James huddle together and cry like girls. The hate-fests of Pyongyang or Tehran? Mayan prophecies, alien invasions, another Star Wars trilogy… Gimme a break!
Fuck-a-doodle-do! that is horrifying. Where the Count Fuckula is it all going? God doesn’t even know.
In the US (and for a few years now here) there is a tradition of a baby shower where the mother-to-be has a party and female friends and relatives turn-up with gifts for the soon-to-be-born. Usually practical things for babies like a set of posidrives or something (look I’m a bloke with no kids so I’m improvising here). And then there is a sharp chilling blast from the front door and a man in a dark rain-coat with a fedora masking his face (I always imagine this drawn in comic-book fashion) turns-up and says, “I’m from the government, I’m here to look after your son or daughter to be.” and presents an envelope. What is in it? As the shadowy figure exits into the rain (it has to be raining doesn’t it?) the expectant mother opens the envelope…
It says, “Before your child has taken their first breath they will owe $51,602. Thank you for your co-operation”.
I dunno about the USA but here that’s about the tuition fees for a 3/4 year undergraduate degree. It’s certainly a mortgage deposit or enough money to set-up a business. If that were $51,602 the other way set in trust (with reasonable interest) until they are say 18 that is enough money to give everyone a bloody good start in adult life. But no. Alas it is on the debit side.
But let’s look at the headline figure: the USA is 16 trillion, 240 billion, 420 million in debt (plus some “loose change”). Now I have a background in physics and astrophysics so when I say a figure is astronomical please believe me. I say “loose change” because I assume that is the way government thinks of it – and up to a point when you are $16 trillion in debt what’s the odd hundred thou here or there? That’s something you lose down the back of the sofa.
Except… The Manhattan Project cost $2 billion. Apollo cost $10 billion. The Voyager and Viking missions cost in the region of a billion a throw. The merest dust of the valance. I’m not adjusting for inflation here. Nor should I. Voyager 1 is (arguably) around the heliopause and it’s still working. JPL, I salute you! If we go to kibbles and bits (or Greek as it is otherwise known hummus and mezes – I guess) at least something, somewhere might know we were once magnificent. It might even happen as we are still gnawing the bones of the first-born beneath the idols that the Old Ones called “wind turbines”. There might even be an ageing shaman who remembers how the Gods made the sparks and then took them away as the Goreacle of Kyoto said must happen for the Righteous to be exalted. He might even have a musical box to show a feral child with really bad back-combing*. Something of us will reside in the stars. That is a comfort of sorts.
So let’s do some arithmetic…
A US dollar bill is 0.0043″ thick (US Treasury). In real money that is 0.00010922 metres (1 inch = 2.54 cm exactly). Let us proceed… 16.243 (It’s tricky because it keeps going up, OK? – and I’m scraping my head on the ceiling due to the “loose change” accumulating under the sofa – bear in mind this is the sort of loose change you can buy a small warship with, not a can of Coke – this is government loose change) x 1012 multiplied by that means a stack of dollar bills 1,774,060,460 metres tall (I round off even more loose change here so the roof now needs re-jigging and I have hypoxia). In miles that is 1,102,350. That is a column of dollar bills to the Moon four times (with a fair bit left over). That is truly an astronomical sum.
Quite why (I have said this before) the Republicans engaged in a kerfuffle over such things as gay marriage when they had four Towers of Babel in the room already is beyond me. Perhaps because Dubya was involved in building this? Perhaps because they really didn’t plan on hacking this inverse beanstalk down themselves because they had their own bread and circuses planned? God knows.
Anyway, to any new-born American who has just took their first breath right now. You now owe an extra $6 and the midwife hasn’t weighed you yet. Best of luck. I mean that sincerely. You have been born into a World of troubles that were not of your making. Your personal tabula rasa is in hock now for $51,608. And that is between me starting this post and finishing it. I started it late last night. I publish mid-afternoon.
I have used a fair bit of Biblical imagery here and that is apt. Talk about the sins of the fathers, ye even unto the fourth generation and all that malarkey.
*You can see that anyway in Chesterfield on a Friday night.