Got a $9 Trillion Debt? Call an Army of Oprahs

Modest Proposals for the Soaring National Debt


March 16, 2006 —  You could do a lot of things with $9 trillion, besides run up a record-breaking national debt. Better yet, there are a lot of things Oprah could do with that kind of money.

The Senate voted Thursday to allow the national debt to swell to nearly $9 trillion, a mind-boggling figure that represents $30,000 for every American. But whether you're a budget bending homeowner — or a blue-chip celebrity — that 13-digit bundle represents so much more.

Last year, Oprah purchased a $16,882 Pontiac G6 sedan for every member of her studio audience. Give the talk-show queen $9 trillion, and she could purchase 533 million Pontiacs, enough for every man, woman — and unlicensed driver of any age — in the United States, Canada and Mexico.

Oprah would even have enough left over cars to spread joy in Central America and the Caribbean.

Still, it's hard to think "Pontiac" if you'd be throwing a multitrillion-dollar party. With that kind of dough, you could give a $255,000 Aston Martin V12 Vanquish to 35.3 million Americans — a number equal to the population of California.

I'm not saying we should pimp the ride of every Californian. There are already plenty of Aston Martins in Malibu. We could hold a national Aston Martin lottery, where every American would have a better than a 1-in-10 shot of driving away in a James Bond-mobile.

With the unfathomable figure of $9 trillion, you could buy 6.4 million Tomahawk cruise missiles (at $1.4 million a pop) or 3 million tons of $93-an-ounce Beluga caviar for the party of a lifetime.

Invest that same figure in Charmin bathroom tissue and you could buy a lifetime supply of toilet paper (more than 3,000 rolls) for every person on the planet.

1,000 Bottles of Coke for Everyone on the Planet

Not only could you buy the world a Coke, you could give all 6.5 billion of us more than 1,000 bottles each, assuming you pay the $1.25 vending machine price.

And if you really wanted to do something crazy, you could send every person in Cleveland on a $20 million vacation in space. Does that have all the makings of a Hollywood blockbuster? Forget Peter Jackson's $207 million version of "King Kong." You'll have enough for 43,478 sequels.