Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Visualizing Obama's Budget cuts

As you have noticed, I haven't had time to do my own commentary lately---so instead I am sharing gems from other people.

This particular video (less than 2 minutes long) provides a way to help visualize the huge numbers thrown around these days while discussing government spending. We have all become numb to the numbers---and that is dangerous.

While watching the clip (sorry, no way to embed it) keep in mind that the table of pennies represents the annual federal budget. On this scale, $90 of pennies = $3.6 trillion.

Currently the federal deficit is $12.8 trillion and projected to be $20 trillion in 2020.

Now think about that 1/4 of a penny budget reduction next to a table holding 3 to 5 times as many pennies. The significance shrinks even further.

(HT Patrick Peterson)


Jason said...

Clearly concretizing an issue by bringing it from the conceptual to the perceptual level (as in the video with the 1/4 penny)? How dare you!! Life is incomprehensible! Without foreign debt and printing fiat money there would no government welfare programs! No Medicare! No Social Security! Each individual would be responsible for supporting his own life! What do you want me to do? Save and plan? Ask people for financial assistance? You monster!!! The leading intellectuals say borrow and spend more and raise taxes on the "bourgeois" exploiters! Who am I to judge!

Oh wait, I have a mind. I can rationally judge and understand fundamental principles :)

HaynesBE said...

Not much to add to that comment! Thanks for stopping by!

Jason said...

On a serious note, the liberals and conservatives cannot comprehend numbers beyond a few million, as billions and trillions of dollars are too abstract for their concrete-bound mentality to deal with. And concretizations of capitalist ideas are quickly written off by them as biased, as they hold that one should act non-ideologically, that there is no proper ideology (except for collectivism), that serious political issues can only be dealt with by acting spontaneously and by not holding absolute "stubborn" principles.

HaynesBE said...

I find the difference between one billion and one trillion too abstract to comprehend. That is why I like these visualizations. It helps get those numbers back to the realm of concrete reality. I think the student in the clip is spot on: one big pile of money from a bigger pile of money is about as far as most people go. The rest is a "blankout."
I certainly agree about the aversion to thinking in principles. It's astounding how much I run into it.
Thanks again for commenting.