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"There’s a man in the funny papers we all know."
I see the Congress has finally approved a $2.6 trillion budget for fiscal year 2006.
Now somebody might think that $2.6 trillion is a lot of money. But just how much can be confusing.
And with all the millions, billions and trillions in the news, we can get further confused.
But there are differences between millions, billions and trillions. Real big differences.
For instance: if you measured by seconds, a million seconds is about twelve days. A billion seconds would mean 31 years.And a trillion seconds will add up to roughly 33,000 years.
So if we went back a million seconds it would be twelve days ago, a measure we can easily understand. If you traveled backward a billion seconds it would be 1974, again a span of time that we can still comprehend. So far, no big deal.
But if you went back a trillion seconds it would be 30,000 or so B.C. And Alley Oop, his girlfriend Ooola and the dinosaurs would still be around.
Which means Alley Oop time and a trillion can never be understood in a human sense but looking at the numbers this way gives us a sense of the immensity of a $2.6 trillion budget. As the Hollywood Argyles explained it in a 1960’s hit song – "He lived way back a long time ago, He don’t eat nothin but a bear cat stew, Well this cats name is-a Alley Oop,"
So its no surprise that Alley Oop can also shed some light on the lunatic idea behind what George Bush is selling as Social Security "reform."
For part of that plan is to "borrow" $5 trillion over 20 years to make up for the money diverted from the Social Security trust fund to establish the private accounts he is pushing. Of course, this part of the Bush brainstorm is as murky as the salesman. And it should be.
Using Alley Oop time again, five trillion seconds might even take us as far back as what the scientists call the "Big Bang." So even if you are a country, you just don’t go out and borrow five trillion dollars. And even murkier is what would be the interest on such a transaction.
So what would Alley Oop say about Bush and Social Security? Something like this: When you start throwing numbers around like five trillion the result is certain. Bush’s idea of Social Security "reform" is a cinch bet to become the world’s greatest financial calamity if enacted.
Alley Oop time again.
As far as trillions go, maybe the most staggering dollar number comes from London and a report by the Tax Justice Network.
Now we all know all those offshore tax havens that the Republican’s are so sensitive about, the ones Congress and Bush will do nothing about, the scams Senator Trent Lott even claims are protected by the Constitution?
Well the Tax Justice people say the corporations and high-rollers of the planet hold a quarter of United States stocks and nearly a third of all the globe’s assets offshore. They further say this adds up to about $11.5 trillion American dollars.
Now 11.5 trillion greenbacks hidden, buried and laundered in these tax dodging rackets is probably the biggest pile of money in the world. And undoubtedly, many of the Americans involved are still crying the loudest for tax cuts as well as waving the flag in support of our military adventures in Iraq and Afghanistan.
But just how far back 11.5 trillion seconds would take us in Alley Oop time baffles me. Nor do I want to guess, nor am I capable of doing so. And the same goes for Alley Oop.
But what I do know is we have a problem. Again, the same goes for Alley Oop.
JACKIE CORR lives in Butte, Montana. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org