Weekly Comments Archive
Archived Issue
Monday, December 1, 2008
ISSUE #527
#527 December 1, 2008

U.S. Treasury shovels out Seven Trillion Dollars

COLUMBUS: Do you remember the old days when a Billion dollars seemed like a lot of money? We would read in the papers, “The President promises a billion dollars to Asia to deal with record floods.” Or “ABC company reported a billion dollar profit.”

Of course the “old days” was just a few months ago. Today, anything less than ten billion won’t even get a headline unless it’s a Hollywood alimony payment.

A week ago we were just learning how to count to a Trillion. You know, like in a higher math class: 700 billion plus 300 billion equals ______. Then while we were stripping the last meat off the Thanksgiving turkey, the Professor announced that Citibank wants us to bump that up to seven trillion. SEVEN TRILLION DOLLARS!

Just imagine if you won a lottery prize of $7 Trillion. Would your first reaction be, “I think I’ll buy a couple of banks. And if there’s any money left, I’m going to Disney World.”

No, you would probably think, “Let’s buy a country. Maybe Saudi Arabia. Or Russia. Seward bought Alaska from Russia; why not buy Russia.”

Now, Secretary Paulson and the big economists say these bailout dollars are loans, not gifts. But the question Mr. Paulson needs to answer is, How much does the country have left to loan out? And does that include the gold in Fort Knox?

There is some good news. Gasoline is down to $1.50 a gallon. The OPEC oil ministers held a meeting and announced no cut in production. They said, “We would prefer $75 a barrel, but $50 is better than no money at all.” They figure if they go broke, OPEC can become a bank and ask for a bailout.

Historic quotes from Will Rogers:

[President Roosevelt will talk on the radio about] some of these new schemes to spend this $5 billion. You know, you can’t spend $5 Billion in the old-fashioned way. I’ll bet you could put a strong man in the Treasury warehouse full of $l00 bills and give him a scoop shovel, and he couldn’t shovel out that much money in the rest of his life.

    We used to, we couldn’t spell a billion dollars, much less realize it and count it. But now we’re a nation, we learn awful fast, and we won’t be long now till we’ll be workin’ on the word Trillion; that follows billion, and then trillion. You’ll read in the papers, ‘Congress has just been asked to appropriate $2 Trillion to relieve the dependents of a race of people called Wall Streeters.’ The paper will go on to say, ‘This is a worthy cause, and no doubt this small appropriation will be made, as these are dependents of a once proud race, and after all, they’re wards of the government.'” Radio, April 28, 1935

“To be perfectly frank with you, there’s quite a few problems agitating the country that I don’t hardly know anything about. I would never make an Economist. An Economist is a man that can tell you what can happen under any given conditions. And his guess is liable to be just as good as anybody else’s.” Radio, May 26, 1935

 “I don’t know anymore about this thing than an economist does, and God knows, he don’t know anything.” Radio, April 7, 1935

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