Trying to Grasp $16 Trillion Debt: Stars, Blood Cells and More


So here I sit eating lunch and my mind can’t seem to get off Washington, or Obama, or the deficit. I feel like I’m going crazy with the numbers our government keeps spewing at us. So I thought I’d look up some comparisons to try to get the number, 16 trillion1, (our current debt) into focus in my mind. I’m having a very hard time grasping its enormity or comprehending its reality.

Looking to the Sky for Understanding

Here’s the first thing I discovered in my search for things that are in common with huge numbers. The most distant object we can currently view is 13 billion light years2 away. That’s the oldest light we can detect with current technology, 13 billion is a huge number… But it comes nowhere close to 16 trillion. As a matter of fact it’s 15,987,000,000,000 (15 Trillion, 987 Billion) shy of hitting the mark…

Starstruck by Our National Debt

GalaxiesWell surely there are trillions of stars in our galaxy. So I searched the web and discovered that our galaxy has, according to some estimates, 100 billion stars. That’s still way off 16T. So how many galaxies would it take to have as many stars in view as Obama has dollars in our debt? 160 Milky Way Galaxies all crammed together in one area of the sky, for your viewing pleasure!!!

Some estimate that we have 400 billion stars in our Milky Way, but that only reduces the number of galaxies to 40, still a huge number of galaxies in one place at one time. I can’t comprehend seeing 40 galaxies in view at night with the naked eye so I had to find out how many stars I could see on the average clear night. More searching turned up that according to scientists, we can only view 2500 stars on any given clear night with the naked eye.

MilkyWay AmdromedaAt 16 trillion (16T) stars grouped in one sector of the sky for your viewing, it would be a giant glowing mass of radiation (Perpetual daylight) and the stars would tear each other apart. No human could even survive the amount of radiation that would be created in having so many stars so close together, even if they were 100 light-years from the earth. So this doesn’t really help me grasp the number 16 Trillion since this number of stars is well beyond my scope of reality or comprehension.

The National Debt as Blood Money

BloodCellsI tried and tried to find something in normal daily life or average scientific studies that equates to 16T but there is nothing average about 16 Trillion. So I thought I’d look at the human body on the micro-scale. I discovered that scientists estimate that there are 30 trillion red blood cells in the average human body. That means our President is over half way to spending as many dollars as you have red blood cells in your entire body. Mind blowing.

You really have to go to extremes to find the number trillion being used at all. Like the number of total cells in your entire body (100T), or the largest galaxies in the universe hold 100T stars, and so on… Things you’d never think about on an average day. So, why are Obama’s deficit numbers constantly larger than the numbers commonly used by scientists studying the vast universe or the microcosm of the human body?? GOOD GRIEF!!

Filling a Wallet with $16 Trillion

Wheel Barrow of MoneyI started to think about how much printed money there is in circulation. Do we actually have 16 trillion dollars of paper and coins floating around in banks and purses and wallets? Turns out, no, we only have about 800 billion coins and dollars bills printed by the Fed at this moment. So… Hmmm… With Obama creating 6 trillion new dollars of debt each term, what does that actually do to the dollar bill in your wallet? Catastrophic is the only word that I can think of to describe it.

Let’s Count to a Trillion

So my thirst for understanding 16T drove me on and I wondered how long it would take to count to 1 trillion. Obviously someone on Obama’s staff HAS counted to that number, right?? I discovered it would take a very fast human over 36,000 years to count to 1 trillion. No breaks, no sleeping, no eating, no breaths. That’s only if they can count 1 number per-second, which is, in all reality, impossible…

Have you ever tried to say nine-hundred-forty-seven million three-hundred-twenty-six thousand seven-hundred-seventy-seven in 1 second? You’d probably be very tired after the first 50 years… So it’s safe to say that NO ONE HAS EVER COUNTED TO 1 TRILLION!!!

All the World’s People Just Want to be Free

World Population Under DebtMy mind is spinning pretty badly now. Surely we must have at least 1 trillion humans alive on the earth? Something in our average daily lives must correlate to the number trillion. But there are only 7 billion people on the Earth. THE WHOLE EARTH!!. Divide the $16T debt between them and that’s $2,285 for each person alive today. The average worldwide yearly wage, according to the BBC, is $4,800. No way could the world afford this. Half a year’s wages from every employed person on the planet… Yikes! The world economy would collapse!

The Debt and Working Americans

Well, America is special; we are very wealthy, right? Surely we can afford this. According to a census a few years ago there are only 315 million Americans alive today. I divide 16T between them and that’s $50,729 per man, woman and child in the US. But that’s not truly accurate; babies don’t work and earn a wage and many adults don’t have jobs either. There are 150 million employed people making a wage in America. So divide 16T by that and you get $106,666 per working person in America. The average US wage in 2011 was only $42,000. So we would have to take everyone’s pay for the next 2.5 years!!! Not just part of it, ALL OF IT!

Our president adds to that $6,000,000,000,000 (6 Trillion) in new deficit every presidential term. That equates to $19,023 added to each person’s debt payments for a total of $125,689 !!! He increases the deficit by half of the average American’s wage every 48 months?

Must be Fuzzy Math or A Dream During Lunch?


Somebody please tell me I’m wrong! Please… Pinch me, wake me from this nightmare!

I’m not a super genius, I’m probably no smarter than Obama. I work as a technician for a school district in Collier County, Florida. I’m no big wig of anything. But yet I can sit down and figure this out on my lunch break. Why can’t he? Or has he?

Either Obama has no concept, no understanding, no grasp of how much damage he is doing to our country and the next generation of Americans, or maybe he does. He has either a deep seeded hatred for America and its values and wishes to destroy us from within, or he is so naive, incompetent and ignorant that he should have NEVER become president. Not even of a local home owners association, much less the United States.


 In the seven years since this article was written, the US Debt has continued to grow.  It now exceeds $24 trillion. Every new born American assumes a debt greater than $73,000.  At the moment, the Constitution is under assault by the response to the coronavirus. The response includes greater debt and a two way tax on Americans, through inflationary money printing and growing interest payments.

It is not just the United States irresponsibly saddling its citizens with unsustainable debt, but it’s a worldwide phenomenon.  To compare the US to the world, check out Real Time World Debt Clock.



1$16 Trillion is a place to start. The debt is increasing by the second. To check the debt at the moment you read this, visit the US Debt Clock for the number.

2A “light year” is the distance covered at the speed of light in one year. Light travels at 186,282 miles per second. That’s about 700 million miles per hour. The distance in a light year is itself 5.88 trillion miles, so, even that is way shy of the growing national debt.



For Further Reading


Avatar photo About Barret Abney

I have lived in Naples Florida for over 20 years. I began an earnest interest in politics in late 1994 as I entered the USAF. At that point I began to notice how much Washington politics impacted every part of our lives. My drive for honesty in politics leads me to the Byron Donalds campaign for Congress in 2012, where I served as Media Director. My God given appetite for information and understanding has driven me to change my entire paradigm, viewing politics now through the eyes of an informed citizen.


  1. […] Trying to Grasp $16 Trillion Debt: Stars, Blood Cells and More … […]

  2. […] of an impact than just the numbers. People can’t actually imagine the difference between a million and a trillion dollars when you tell them, but a picture tells a different […]

  3. […] more of an impact than just the numbers. People can’t actually imagine the difference between a million and a trillion dollars when you tell them, but a picture tells a different […]

  4. How to Find Creative Sources of Business Funding

    Trying to Grasp $16 Trillion Debt: Stars, Blood Cells and More – David J. Shestokas