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Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Fixed that for ya, Mr. President

Among the websites controlled by the Obama White House is one intended for ready public access to fiscal matters — www.treasurydirect.gov. It even has a section for kids. There, we find this very educational bar chart showing the national debt:

Screencap of bar chart taken on Aug. 4, 2012, from U.S. Treasury's 'TreasuryDirect for KIDS' webpage

For whatever reason, no one in the Obama Treasury Department has bothered to update the chart since 2009, which of course was only President Obama's first year in office. I was a liberal arts major, and I've only modest photoshop skills, but I do read the headlines and this bar chart is dirt simple to fix:

same bar chart as updated by Beldar

Of course, the chart is still slightly misleading because the selected dates aren't proportionately scaled along the X-axis, and of course the national debt history begins well before 1990.

But never let it be said that I wasn't trying to help the Obama Administration in its efforts to "tell a story to the American people that gives them a sense of unity and purpose and optimism, especially during tough times." We surely wouldn't want the kiddos to be confused about what Obama has done, and this bar chart certainly tells a story that gives me a sense of purpose.

Posted by Beldar at 09:40 PM in 2012 Election, Budget/economics, History, Obama, Politics (2012) | Permalink


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(1) Beldar made the following comment | Sep 4, 2012 10:40:50 PM | Permalink

One of my Facebook friends (a dear friend from college), upon on seeing my link to this post there, commented:

"Thank you[, Beldar,] for your diligence in making certain the children get honest answers. Yes, Mr. President, you did build it!"

To make the chart even more educational, we might note for the kiddos that in standard American usage, since ten to the tenth power is 10 billion (that is, a 1 followed by ten 0s before you get to the decimal place), then $16 billion, when expressed using scientific notation (to three significant digits), is 1.60E10 dollars. That's also often written with a superscript, which I can't do here in comments, but it would be 1.60 x 10[to the tenth power]. I believe that we may also say that the national debt is now just over 16 Gigadollars. Or in round numbers: $16,000,000,000.00. (But that's actually too many zeros to make an accurate impression, because the eye tends to just blur that many groups of 000s altogether, especially if they're followed by a decimal point.)

(2) Gregory Koster made the following comment | Sep 6, 2012 1:28:31 AM | Permalink

Dear Mr. Dyer: Oh, for heaven's sake. Cut The Won and his writers some slack. They are too busy updating the Presidential biographies on The Won's website to be bothered with such details. As The Won's science advisor Barbie sez: "Math is hard."

Sincerely yours,
Gregory Koster

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