$1 Trillion In Perspective: The F-35 Lightning II, US National Debt & More

By: | December 22nd, 2014

Humans are increasingly thinking in larger and larger numbers; let’s take a look at some examples where “trillions” are involved. In the US, the Air Force is building 2,443 F-35 Lightning II’s, the world’s most advanced fighter jet, at a combined cost of $382 billion plus a GAO (Government Accounting Office) estimate of $650 billion to maintain the aircraft. Will typical cost overruns, this program will easily surpass $1.5 trillion.

I. Government Debt: The US government has a total national debt of $17.9 trillion. By the time you read this, it will be bigger; see the real time US National Debt Clock. The government borrows trillions of dollars a year just to meet outstanding government bond redemptions and this amount keeps going up. For example, so far in 2014 the US government has spent $1 trillion more than it has taken in and it’s not even the end of the year yet.

Following are numbers for the past four years and provide amounts redeemed, issued and the increase in debt.


  • United States redeemed: $7,546,726,000,000
  • Issued: $8,323,949,000,000
  • Increased Debt by: $777,223,000,000


  • United States Redeemed: $6,804,956,000,000
  • Issued: $7,924,651,000,000
  • Increased Debt by: $1,119,695,000,000


  • United States redeemed: $7,026,617,000,000
  • Issued: $8,078,266,000,000
  • Increased Debt by: $1,051,649,000,000


  • United States redeemed: $7,206,965,000,000
  • Issued: $8,649,171,000,000
  • Increased Debt by: $1,442,206,000,000

II. Company Valuations: Google, currently one of the largest companies in the world, is on track to become the first US listed company on a stock exchange to reach a market capitalization of more than $1 trillion, expected to occur by 2020.

III. Currency Inflation: A few years ago in Zimbabwe inflation was so high that the country issued bills the nominated in $1 trillion and $100 trillion.

IV. Too Big To Fail – there are now five banks in the United States with more than $40 trillion in exposure to derivatives. Should another crisis occur, bailouts are again likely to be needed.

V. Military Hardware: The contract for the F-35 Lightning II Combat Jet (pictured above), with a price tag of $344.8 million each, exceeded $1.5 trillion. The plane’s top speed is 1,199 miles per hour, range 1,379 miles. A report by Taxpayers for Common Sense has all the details on the program. One hundred fifty have been built so far.

VI. Environmental Damage: According to Common Dreams studying ocean acidification damaged coral reefs could trigger as much as $1 trillion in global losses annually by 2100. Coral reefs provide a food chain for many species that local fishermen and communities depend on. When reefs die, local economies suffer.

VII. Cash Reserves: The Top 50 US companies are currently holding $1.65 trillion in non-bank cash reserves.

VIII. Education Costs: The US student debt now totals more than $1 trillion.

IX. Maintaining Military: Refurbishing the US nuclear arsenal, recommended by the Obama administration, will cost taxpayers $1 trillion.

X. Global Financial Markets: A Manhattan federal judge recently ruled that investors can go ahead with a lawsuit accusing 12 major banks of violating antitrust law by fixing prices and restraining competition in the $21 trillion market for credit default swaps.

The above is a random sampling of numbers in the trillions and the object lesson is, just as Thomas Gray said, “Ignorance is Bliss.”

Related articles on IndustryTap:

References and related links:

David Russell Schilling

David enjoys writing about high technology and its potential to make life better for all who inhabit planet earth.

More articles from Industry Tap...