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Cead Mile Failte*

A personal web site to promote the teaching of HTML, Web design and other adult learning subjects. Foghlaim (FOHL-wun) is Irish (Gaeilge) for the verbal noun LEARN. It symbolizes the principal purpose of this site.

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The Red Shift

I watch a lot of programs on the Science Channel. There is always something about the universe and the speed of light. It is hard for most of us to comprehend the immensity of the universe. It is infinite after all. On the other hand something that has always puzzled me is this. If the universe is infinite, why do astronomers tell us it is expanding. To where? A bigger infinity? Oh well, another one of those imponderables. Sort of like our nation’s economy. The administration in power would have us believe that the economy is expanding. I suppose there are economist equivalents of astronomers who look into their financial telescopes and notice the color red (is that ink) and determine that due to the Doppler effect the economy has to be expanding because of the “red-shift.” Still the numbers used to describe the economy tend to cause the average voter to glaze over. “We must be better off, they said so on the Internet and we all know that has to be true,” one might say. Take the U.S. National know that is kind of like what you and I owe as soon as we get a paycheck, if we get a paycheck. The national debt is $15,800,000,000,000. That’s a big number. I rounded it off because it increases at $48,000 per second. I work with a bunch of teachers who have to work hard for 180 days to make $48,000. You could buy a Mercedes E Class (used) every second. What would I do with two? I’ll take one and use a couple more seconds worth to maintain it over the year.

The total U.S. debt from all sources, also rounded off, is $57,000,000,000,000. That’s how much “we” owe after all of the revenue comes in. You remember that “revenue”, it’s called Income Taxes. We refer to those values as trillion. These numbers are just too massive to comprehend. By the time I quit working, and I am pretty average, I will only have made a total of about $600,000. Now that’s a number most of us can relate to. It is roughly what each of us owes to credit card companies. What do you have in your wallet? That’s only twelve and a half seconds worth of Mercedes.

Then I got to thinking, that whole Mercedes thing is not very scientific. Those of you who know me well understand that I can be a science nerd at times. So I came up with a term – the Light Dollar. That is the number of dollars that travel from the printing press to debt in one second. Sort of like the Speed of Light. Now I can relate. Using my calculations, I live 1.9 billion Light Dollars from the nearest debt-free planet. If you want to jump on my spaceship and head out, you are welcome. I will never get there, but then, neither will our country if we follow the people telling us that we are heading in the right direction. Oh, sure, we may be heading toward Planet DebtFree, but it is moving way from us at the speed of a Light Dollar. I wonder how fast a Mercedes E350 can go?

— Tom Boyle


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