- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Thinking of counting to a trillion one second per number? Better get started. It will take 31,688 years.

And tack on a few more years if you want to go for 1.35 trillion, the dollar estimate for the federal deficit in the current budget year.

The whole sum could be taken care of if every American, all 300 million of them, forked over $4,500.

Back in 1981, President Ronald Reagan, characterizing the national debt as it approached $1 trillion, commented that “a trillion dollars would be a stack of $1,000 bills 67 miles high.” The debt, the accumulation of annual deficits, now stands at more than $12 trillion.

Put another way, the $1.35 trillion could pay for 40,000 players like Alex Rodriguez, whose $33 million salary in 2009 made him baseball’s richest man.

Or think the $6.25 billion paid out by Goldman Sachs in salaries and bonuses in 2009 was a lot of money? The federal deficit could support the payroll of 216 such financial firms.

A trip around the world at the equator is about 25,000 miles. So 1.35 trillion miles would be a dizzying 54 million circuits around the globe.

A trillion is one followed by 12 zeros.

The Washington Monument, overlooking the deficit debate in the Capitol, stands about 555 feet high. Stacked end to end, it would take more than 2.4 billion monuments to reach 1.35 trillion feet. That’s well more than double the distance from the Earth to the sun.

Being sat on by a 10,000-pound bull elephant would be a crushing experience. What about if 135 million pachyderms were piled up?

The Earth has been around for about 4.5 billion years. A long time until you consider that 1.35 trillion years equals 300 Earth lives. Looking at more modern history, 1.35 trillion seconds would take us back more than 40,000 years, when Neanderthals were using stones to make tools.