How Big is the U.S. Debt? – Learn Liberty

How Big is the U.S. Debt? – Learn Liberty


How far in debt is the US government? Let’s put the numbers in perspective. If we stacked up individual $100 bills,
$100 million would look like this. If we added up the annual incomes
of everyone in the top 1%, they would total about $2 trillion. That’s 20,000 pallets
of $100 million each. This is the total value of all assets
the US government currently owns, about $3 trillion. In 2015, the federal government
collected $3.2 trillion in taxes and spent 3.8 trillion. The government had to
borrow the difference, which brought it’s total debt at
the end of 2015, to $19 trillion. For comparison, the annual output of
the whole US economy is only $18 trillion. But there’s more. In addition to its debt, the government
owes what are called unfunded obligations. These are future Social Security and
Medicare payments that the government has promised to retirees, but
which it does not have the money to pay. The present value of unfunded
obligations is about $70 trillion. That means that the total amount of
money the US Government either owes or has promised, and cannot pay,
is almost $90 trillion. That figure is nearly 40% higher
than it was just 5 years ago. And it’s about $10 trillion
more than the annual economic output of the entire planet. Click here to see Learn Liberty’s
original debt video from five years ago. For more videos from me and
other professors talking about economics, subscribe to Learn Liberty.

78 comments

  1. It is a fantasy to believe any political candidate or party can reverse this. Most Americans will only "Learn Liberty" after the whole Ponzi scheme collapses.

  2. So miss leading adding debt with Social security. Social security is separate as its a pain in to program that pays for itself. If you stopped paying social security tax today the government could continue paying with full benefits every American that qualified for the next 19 years. I'm sure you know this if your teach economics?

  3. Forgive me if I'm wrong, but aren't these debts owed at different times?

    As an analogy, would this be like saying taking out a 200k mortgage on a house is a bad idea because you only make 80k a year?

  4. Makes you wonder why they bother to collect taxes at all. Since they spend far more than they could ever raise with taxes, it's like they need another reason to interfere with your life (the IRS and the joys of tax preparation).

  5. This is basically just a reiteration of the video from a few years ago, and it's not providing much direct evidence to back up the $70 trillion figure. It seems to me that unpaid benefits of the variety he mentions are very much up in the air and inexact. Why? Because I heard people only five years ago saying the debt was actually $100 trillion. How can there be such a huge difference between those numbers if it's such an exact figure?

    More importantly, though, this sounds a lot like the "unfunded mandates" that Republicans claimed existed during the presidential campaigns in the late 1990s to 2000s. Supposedly it was an indication that Social Security had been robbed by Clinton, or perhaps just an indication that Social Security is a bad program. How did they determine these shortages? Simple. First, don't limit yourself to what you owe in the current year; instead just calculate into infinite as if the liability IS infinite. That might make a little sense if there wasn't the possibility of new taxes being passed during that time to DECREASE that number. But even better, pretend that people live to 150 and still retire at 67. Yeah, when you rig the numbers like that, ANY system is going to look inadequate and bankrupt.

    I'm not looking to start a fight; I just want some clear, unmistakable evidence to back up this $70 trillion figure that DOESN'T include projections into the future. Until then, I'm not buying it. Our debt is a huge problem–no argument there–but I'm highly suspicious of a number that is so blatantly one-sided that it conveniently fits a clear agenda. That's usually a surefire sign that the individual presenting the evidence has a bias and isn't presenting all the data. But show me the data, and I'll admit I'm wrong.

  6. What I've always wanted to know is, isn't there an average of how much of those unfunded liabilities come due each year? Knowing just the total figure doesn't really tell you how big of a chunk those liabilities are adding to the debt each year.

  7. The US debt is so big that people accept that America will not honor its debt without hyperinflation. You can't tax or trade your way out of this problem. When America starts to throw back the chair and flip the table then gold will be the final resting place of real wealth.

  8. Ho-hum. If I took all of the times I've heard something like this and wrote each on a piece of paper, the stack would reach to Mars and back. My question is so what? As long as Americans worship "the troops," and support every nutty trillion-dollar war the politicians dream up, nothing will change.

  9. Another way of stating this is that every family of 4 in the U.S. owes $1,125,000 !!!We are bankrupt – unless of course you all can pay off your portion of this.

  10. But what does it matter? Can't a government just erase the debt if it really comes down to it? After all what is the banks going to do about it? Go the war with the US military to collect the debt?

  11. It's not repayable. It will be "monetized." It's the only viable solution from the state – in other words they will tax us all by printing more money to monetize the debt. The central problem to all of this is there is no free market for money / interest rates. The Fed is a government sponsored monopoly. This is what you get when you let the government take control.

  12. These numbers are incorrect. The total amount of unfunded liabilities is closer to $220 trillion.
    http://www.realclearpolicy.com/blog/2012/12/01/economist_laurence_kotlikoff_us_222_trillion_in_debt_363.html

  13. Can you break down the unfunded liabilities? Can you explain how such large liabilities have gone unfunded for so long? Why hasn't anyone noticed, like bond buyers?

  14. Great video, but I have one recommendation.
    At the 0:13 mark a pallet of $100 bills is shown, a pallet of $100 million.
    Ideally there would have been a comparative human figure standing next to it, or something to give perspective of the size of that pallet.

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  16. The Unfunded Obligations figure is disputed due to the differences in accounting practices. Read here. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/fact-checker/wp/2015/05/13/ben-carsons-claim-that-the-u-s-owes-211-trillion-beyond-the-reported-federal-debt/

  17. All of the debt that is owed to foreign governments is nothing more than money these entities used to buy Treasury securities (money that is actually denominated in US Dollars) and the US Federal government can create a lot of US Dollars in a second (unlike individuals, businesses, or state and local governments); therefore, the debt is not a big deal like you people claim.

  18. Before 1962 the USA had a SURPLUS!! No debt but a SURPLUS!! In 1962 they decided to put the real God of the Bible out of the public schools and later on out of the government etc…..now we have already a 20 trillion dollars debt and this is growing rapidly! And the USA decided to not be 100% with Israel…that means all the curses of this is now on the USA..when you curse Israel you will be cursed says the Lord! When you bless Israel you will be blessed..don't even dare to now blame the Bible, God, Christians or Jews–but all those that are not following the Lord are the ones 100% guilty!!…God Himself is the One behind this and in the end times the USA will be vanished…we are now in the end times according to the God of the Bible…it is written there!! Are you saved or soon going straight to hell(it is in the Bible!!)

  19. us debt
    @ 2008 was ~10T$
    @ 2012 it was ~15,4 T$
    @2016 its 19+ T$
    and interestrates and inflation is…. 1%? we have some catching up to do! tick tock…

  20. After seeing this video, i don't feel so bad for not been able to pay back the cc i used to have.

  21. Just remember, there's no such thing as government debt, as government doesn't actually produce wealth. YOURE in debt. Its YOU that is going to have yo fund this

  22. i watch all these videos and read all these books and i still havent got an answer… "what can they do if we dont pay?" Repo the country? is there any collateral or minimum payment? does it just keep going up? 100,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000$ and forever?

  23. does this suggest that the US will become a 3rd world country in a few decades? Why are people still continuing to immigrate to the US ?

  24. Now that we have someone who knows a thing or two about making money in office, maybe we can start working on improving these numbers.

  25. – double price gas
    – rise taxes to poor and rich
    – cut 30% of the millitary budget
    in 10 years the debt will be 10 trillion $

  26. Well it can be paid back,but not with money,but with help to other countries in need,Africa Afghanistan and Pakistan,help them,and there is no need for you to pay the money,you already paid it,I hope someone could forward this to the US Government

  27. People do not know economics. Example Japan has huge debt but it is mostly to japanese people. Japanese people have millions with no loans. So Japan debt not important. Also Japan has huge investments abroad and that is why they are great donors.

  28. To get our country out of debt we could make it an option to offer everyone government bonds when pay day arrived. The money would come out of the checks of the citizen. Once the bond is mature then the citizen can collect. If only 10 million citizens put up only 10 dollars per week then we would start looking pretty. So forth and so on…

  29. Everyone can tell you about how the governments of the world are in dept but no one explains who they owe the money to. Ignoring promises to pensioners, who are the creditors?

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