This is the money shot: If you stacked up our debt in $1 $100 bills, it would be a huge block bigger than the Statue Of Liberty.
It seems designed to invoke the response: WOW! Our debt is really really big, we must have a crisis!
But really, infographics like this are dangerous.
A stack of $100 bills next to the statue of liberty, overlayed on a soccer field is the least useful way imaginable of comprehending the size of the debt.
Want to get a better understanding of the debt?
Try this chart, showing the cost of servicing that debt, as a percentage of GDP. It’s at multi-decade lows.
Here’s another one showing that interest payments as a share of government spending are at lows we haven’t seen basically ever.
Now, as a taxpayer responsible for paying that debt, this is actually a useful representation of your burden for paying it off; certainly it’s far more useful than a stack of $100 bills.
The best defence of the infographic is: Well, $14 trillion is a gigantic number that’s hard to wrap your head around, and that’s true, but in the end, this kind of visualisation just makes us more agog at the size, rather than putting them in meaningful context.
Anyway, for some more visualizations, that will actually help you understand spending and debt, see here.
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