Money from Your Pocket: The Big and Scary 14 Trillion

Updated on April 1, 2012

© 2012 by Aurelio Locsin.

Take a look again at the image above of 14 trillion. That’s 14 followed by 12 zeros: 14,000 billion or 14 million million. This unimaginably large number is very real and very scary. But before you discover why it’s so frightening for your pocketbook, you need to realize what that number actually represents.

Time

Let’s start with time. We can all know how short a second is and how tens of thousands of them pass every day. How many years do you think have passed to equal 14 trillion seconds?

• It’s not a year, which equals 31.5 million seconds.
• It’s not 2,012 years. Since the birth of Christ, only 63.4 billion seconds have passed.
• Agriculture was discovered about 13,000 years ago, which is only 409 billion seconds.
• Modern humans have only been on the Earth about 6.3 trillion seconds or 200,000 years.
• You have to go back 443,937 years to make 14 trillion seconds. In human evolution, that’s called the Paleolithic or Stone Age and was when the now-extinct Neanderthals discovered fire. Earth only had one giant supercontinent called Godwanaland. There were no land animals existed and bony fish were just starting to appear in the oceans.

Distance

Let’s use inches for this scale because we all know how long that is. If you know that there are 63,350 inches in a mile, how far is 14 trillion inches?

• Between Los Angeles and New York, it’s a little over 2,400 miles or 152 million inches.
• The distance from Los Angeles to London is 5,400 miles or 342.1 million inches.
• The moon is about 238,857 miles from the earth, which equals 15.1 million miles. The sun is 93 million miles away, which equals 5.8 trillion inches.
• To travel 14 trillion inches, you have to go 220.9 million miles, which is beyond Mars, and just under halfway to Jupiter.

Human

Let’s reduce 14 trillion to a human scale with the following comparisons:

• Assuming an average heart rate of 72 beats per minute during an average lifespan of 75 years, your heart will beat about 2.5 billion times. If your heart could beat 14 trillion times, you would live 5,600 lifetimes or 420,000 years.
• You have an average of 240,000 hairs on your head. So 58.3 million people, who equal just over the combined populations of California and New York, have 14 trillion hairs.
• You take about 20,000 breaths each day. For you to breath 14 trillion times would take 700 million days or 1.9 million years.
• Your brain holds about 2.5 million gigabytes, which, according to Scientific American, is equivalent to a DVR holding three million hours of TV. So 14 trillion gigabytes equals the brainpower of 5.6 million people, which is about the population of Wisconsin.

Money

In terms of money, here’s what \$14 trillion equals.

• The population of the earth in 2012 is around 7 billion. Each person would have to pay about \$2,000 to give a total of \$14 trillion.
• The population of the U.S. in 2012 is around 312 million. Each American would have to pay \$44,872 to equal \$14 trillion.
• The U.S. has about 140 million workers. Each worker would have to pay \$100,000 to equal \$14 trillion.

The Scary Bit

If you’re not a working American, you don’t really have to worry about the \$14 trillion.

But if you are a working American, that \$14 trillion equals the U.S. national debt as of 2011. And nearly \$10.4 trillion of it appeared only since 2001 according to the White House.

So you owe \$100,000.

Save up. Because that amount is only going to go up every year.

And some day the creditors are going to want their money back.

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Comments

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• Mark Pitts

6 years ago from United States

onlinecashdigest, I hope you weren't serious in saying we should be imitating China's frugal lifestyle. A huge peasent population, complete disregard of fair trade practices, environmental damage, and corporate espianoge, not to mention an artificially devalued currency to keep their exports cheaper, have much more to do with China's deep pockets. The US debt is equal to its GDP(\$14.5 trillion). The US GDP is surpassed only by the Eurozone's (\$16.2 trillion), which is, after all, about 16 countries put together, and then China is third, at \$5.5 trillion. The US can still recover, if it makes the effort to do so instead of avoiding the steps it needs to take in order to get its house in order.But for now, the US is still the largest and most influential economically. Is that the same as 'most powerful'?

• Trsmd

6 years ago from India

This page is reaLly scary for me..each individual is dented for such a huge money..? Unbelievable.. thanks for SHARING:)

• Joan Whetzel

6 years ago

What an intriguing way of looking at this number. Really puts it into perspective.

• AUTHOR

alocsin

6 years ago from Orange County, CA

Thank you all for stopping by. I just couldn't get a handle on what the national debt was until I started playing with these numbers.

• punamdharkar

6 years ago from India

That's a huge roller coaster dip for a country that till recently was the most powerful economically. Was?!

• onlinecashdigest

6 years ago from Manila, Philippines

Wow, you in the US have borrowed yourself so much to support your consumption...its time you imitate China which reach its success through frugal lifestyle when they are still developing.

• Cynthia Calhoun

6 years ago from Western NC

I had a feeling you'd be talking about US debts. These are incredibly staggering statistics. I think the odds of winning the lottery are only slightly less. Haha. Here's the scary question: how long can a country go with that kind of debt? When do the creditors come knocking? Granted, I know a lot of this debt is in the form of bonds and the like, but can the US "print" its way out? That is, can it print enough currency to make a dent? Wow. Voted up.

• Alecia Murphy

6 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

Wow. This is frightening. And I thin we definitely need to think of other ways of eliminating debt in this country. Thank you for this information.

• Mark Pitts

6 years ago from United States

I love this hub! Especially when I stop to think that we just raised the debt ceiling to 16.2 trillion. Maybe enough people shouting down the rain barrel will eventually be heard.

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