Say, here's an interesting juxtaposition: An article that discussed our country's debt ceiling appeared just above another one describing the amount of money that our country's president had helped raise for his party and the upcoming campaigns. The debt ceiling for the United States is fourteen trillion dollars and change. That's fifteen zeroes. The money that Barack Obama has raised over the last three months for the 2012 campaigns comes to eighty-six million dollars. Nine zeroes, if you're keeping score at home, and I am.
I get perplexed once I get past a certain order of magnitude. For me, it's a little like the question of taking a trip to the nearest planet versus the nearest star. Both are essentially theoretical at this point, though I understand that Mars is "in our neighborhood," while Alpha Centauri is light years away. That's not metaphorical light years, that's the real astronomical unit.
And the truth is, we're not heading to Mars anytime soon since we don't have the billions of dollars it would take to send astronauts there. We're getting ready to pack up our space shuttles and rest on our collective laurels for a while. China, to whom we owe a great deal of money, is getting ready to head off into the void with their own space program. They're the ones with all the cash right now.
So maybe what I'm suggesting is that we go ahead and take all the campaign contributions for 2012 for both parties and buy a rocket to Mars. Or China. How many zeroes would that take?