Interesting Times

Officially, the U.S. national debt is 15.9 trillion dollars. Well, a bit more than that; according to past U.S. Comptroller David Walker, it’s at US$70 trillion and increasing at about US$10 million a minute. The interest alone from this is staggering.

Written out, the official debt figure looks like this: US$15,900,000,000,000 . . . a surprisingly untenable number, given America’s Gross Domestic Product. In fairness, it could be worse; the British denominational system measures a trillion at 10^18, or 1,000,000,000,000,000,000 — in American terms, that’s a quintillion.

All this aside, when you get into numbers like that and you don’t have the means to pay back whomever you owe the money to (China and Japan, f’rinstance), interesting questions arise — especially interesting when other countries are in similar straits.

Historically, the way out of this sort of thing is to have a nice war; it kick-starts the economy, and manufacturing picks up. Unfortunately, that’s how the U.S. got into this predicament (read: Iraq and Afghanistan), and American manufacturing hasn’t been the same since U.S. manufacturers sought to escape paying U.S. wages by having everything made cheaply elsewhere.

So, with half the planet dancing on economic collapse and food prices expected to rise due to drought in the west and floods in the east, there may be . . . interesting times ahead.