Menckens Ghost

More About: Economy - Economics USA

Pesky peas and numbers about America’s indebtedness

By Mencken’s Ghost

Nov. 18, 2011


Whatever the three peas in a pod (politicians, press and public) believe or lie about America’s indebtedness, about corporate profits, and about corporate taxes, the pesky facts are as follows:


National debt = $15 trillion (rounded)

Total federal unfunded liabilities = $61 trillion

$15 trillion + $61 trillion = $76 trillion total indebtedness

Note:  These figures don’t include state, municipal or personal debt.


Civilian labor force = 153 million

$76 trillion / 153 million = $497,000 indebtedness per worker


Average annual income per civilian worker = $27,041

$497,000 / $27,041 = 18 years to pay off federal indebtedness


Annual corporate profits after taxes = $6.6 trillion

Annual federal corporate taxes paid = $329 billion

Average corporate profits as a percent of sales = 6%

$76 trillion / $6.6 trillion = 11.5 years of profits to pay off federal indebtedness


Summary:  It would take 18 years if the government were to confiscate all income from all civilian workers until federal indebtedness were paid off.  Of course there would be mass starvation long before that.  It would take 11.5 years if the government were to confiscate all corporate profits instead of confiscating worker income.  Of course, corporations would go out of business and there would be mass starvation long before that.


Meanwhile, the Deficit Commission and the rest of Congress and the White House are hearing constituents say that the deficit and debt should be drastically cut but there should be no cuts that affect them personally.  As a result, the Commission is planning to reduce their already measly reduction goal of $1.2 trillion over the next decade to something significantly lower.  What they should do instead is start by cutting all federal spending by 20% across the board, across all departments and programs.  The situation is that dire.


But that isn’t going to happen because we are a nation of pea brains that can't understand numbers.



Mencken’s Ghost is the nom de plume of an Arizona writer who loves to eat peas and can be reached at


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