Okay, this one will be a little math-intensive, so you can skip it unless you want to skip down to the end, just to see how boned we truly are.
Okay, as of the writing of this column, the running National Debt is $16,963,909,000,000 ($16.96 trillion) dollars.
If we were to suddenly stop borrowing and started spending a million dollars per minute - every minute, round the clock, round the calendar, 24/7/365 - on paying off the principal amount (the interest is handled as a separate expense, so we are just talking about the principal), how long would it take to pay off that amount?
A million dollars every minute x 60 minutes in an hour x 24 hours in a day x 365 days in a year = 525,600 minutes (which is where the song title from "Rent" comes from, btw) x $1,000,000 per minute = $ 525,600,000,000, or $525.6 billion per year. Divide into the number above, and we get... (drumroll, please)
32 years and 14 weeks.
That'a more than a generation... That long ago, Diana Spencer was walking down the aisle at St. Paul's Cathedral to meet Prince Charles... Ronald Reagan had just nominated the first woman to serve on the Supreme Court... The Space Shuttle had celebrated its first space mission...
That's if we stop borrowing NOW and start paying it off at $1 million/minute. Slower means longer. Not stopping makes it worse.
What cannot go on forever, simply won't.