When I started college in the mid 1960s I decided I’d give accounting a try. After a couple of courses I discovered I had no propensity for the subject. I test drove a couple of other business courses before deciding I might be better suited for art and politics.
With this in mind you can imagine how stupefied I was in learning last evening that the US Department of Defense can’t account for $21 trillion dollars. Yeah, that’s trillion with a “T”.
Putting some perspective on this number just let me say that the entire federal government budget for 2017 was just a little over $4 trillion. The entire national debt is $19 trillion. It is estimated that the gross national product for the United States in 2018 will amount to $20 trillion. So, the DOD is missing more than the value of all goods and services produced in America during the current year.
So where is this enormous sum of taxpayer dollars? What was it spent on? Whose pockets did it line? If it’s an accounting error how the hell do you miss accounting for so much? The answer is, nobody really knows. I can take some comfort in knowing that the best accountants in government don’t know any more than me, who barely made it through a couple of beginning college classes.
And did I mention there appears to have been several attempts to hide this information from the public.
Numbers this high simply blur my eyes and freeze my brain. I tried thinking; a thousand is a thousand one dollar bills, a million is a thousand thousand, a billion is a thousand million, and a trillion is a thousand billion. And if $21 trillion was divided equally among every man, woman, and child in America, we’d all get $70,000. So, we could all have a new house or a college education on just what the military can’t account for!