Most people, this one included, have no real idea what a trillion dollars is, let alone the 17-trillion dollars that is our national debt. According to workinghumor.com, Ross Perot, of all people, provided an excellent illustration.
A million dollars in thousand-dollar bills, Perot said, is a stack of bills four inches high. A billion dollars in thousand-dollar bills would be 300 feet high. A trillion dollars in thousand-dollar bills would reach 63 miles into space.
Even Ross Perot could scarcely have imagined America one day burdened with a debt 17 times his illustration, which my calculator tells me would be a stack of thousand-dollar bills 1,073 miles high. That is roughly the orbit of some of our manmade satellites from which the earth must appear as a blue marble ball.
Our stack of debt remains stable because our creditors still have confidence in us to keep it upright. Political squabbles over it give it the appearance of teetering, lessening confidence.
The real way to ensure confidence and keep it from eventually tumbling of its own weight is to stop arguing, agree to reduce its size, and follow through on doing so.