I believe your editorial cartoonist for Monday, July 22, may not be very good at math. In an attempt to show the magnitude of student loan debt, the cartoonist errs egregiously in the estimate for national debt per man, woman and child in the U.S. The left panel depicts a debt-per-person amount of only $3,279.43.

However, some simple calculations prove this to be woefully understated. Go to the Congressional Budget Office website or any other number of sources readily available online.

Current U.S. debt stands at almost $16.9 trillion (or to make it simple, use 17 and put 12 zeroes behind it). Next, according to the U.S. Census Bureau the current estimate for total population is 317 million (or 317 and six zeroes). Divide those two numbers and you get a figure greater than $53,000.

Perhaps the cartoonist was thinking of the annual deficit per person, in which case the number quoted makes some sense. But consider this: That $3,200 figure claimed in the cartoon gets added each year to the existing amount given likely trends. So the $53,000 per person owed today will be over $56,000 next year and will be approaching $60,000 the year after that.

This is not a political statement, just a math statement. And it should be sobering regardless of one’s political convictions.

Scott Jones


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