Fun fact: This year, student loan debt in the U.S. is projected to reach $1 trillion, according to the Washington Post.
Debt isn’t something that my friends and acquaintances talk about much. Some people manage to get through college without any, thanks to either good financial aid from school, outside scholarships, or relatively affluent relatives. Even so, I would guess that the majority of the people I know are taking out loans of some kind.
How does one even visualize $1 trillion? I can’t. Nowadays, I occasionally pass time while waiting in line to purchase something by computing how many hours of work it would take for me to cover the cost of whatever I’m buying. My lab notebook is about 3 hours. My dinner is about 1 hour. I certainly wouldn’t want to start computing how many total hours people would have to work to pay off that $1 trillion.
I remember that the number 100 was a big deal in kindergarten. 100 was so large that we had projects that involved counting out 100 of some object (pieces of candy, pennies, etc.) in order to visualize just how big 100 really was.
Obviously, 100 didn’t seem like such a large number as the years wore on. If you’ve ever watched Austin Powers, you probably remember the scene when Dr. Evil realizes $1 million isn’t very much anymore.
Even $100 billion isn’t a lot anymore. If someone asked me to guess the total amount of outstanding student loan debt in the country, I probably would have guessed something less than $100 billion. Now that different debt figures in the U.S. can be measured in the trillions, I guess one trillion isn’t as special as it used to be.
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