Millions, Billions, Trillions? Oh, My!

 Millions, Billions, Trillions? Oh, My!

Neither a borrower nor a lender be;/ For loan oft loses both itself and friend.” (Shakespeare’s Polonius in Hamlet)

What comes next  what comes after trillions  after trillions? Quadrillions? Humungozillions?

Does it matter?

Good old Everett Dirksen, Republican senator and minority leader from Illinois in the 1960′s, is most remembered and credited today for his semi-tongue-in-cheek reflection that, “A billion here, a billion there, and pretty soon you’re talking real money.”

That cynical reference to the uninhibited spending of LBJ’s Democrats during the “Great Society,” which proved to be not so great and which in fact devolved into an economic disaster, is today fiscally as antiquated as high-button shoes have been for a century. In 2010, Dirksen would probably scratch his hoary, grey head and gasp, “Trillions?”

That’s the number politicians speak of today as if it’s simply the logical, economic extension of millions and Dirksen’s billions. On Friday, the Wall Street Journal published an article under Real Time Economics titled, “Number of the Week: 10.2 Trillion in Global Borrowing” which, in gross understatement, concluded, “It’s easy to see that the risk of serious financial trouble is growing,”

Excuse me? “Serious financial trouble?” Ya think?

Is that in any way translatable for the ignorant masses, us hoi polloi, as meaning, “We’re in deep doo-doo” That the WSJ is well aware of that deep doo-doo? That the WSJ can’t exactly say that the planet is immersed in lots of excrement, with the United States and other Western nations leading the way, without causing financial and social panic and a government crackdown on the WSJ’s right to publish on the basis that it is undermining both the economy and the government?

There’s good reason why gold and other precious metals are reaching for the stratosphere and it has little to do with buying shiny baubles. It’s called fear.

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