Not so long ago, I found myself explaining the importance of personal monetary management to an audience of younger people and from all sorts of backgrounds.
As an example of how not to manage one’s affairs, naturally, I cited the U.S. federal government’s spending habits.
Like most others, I’d forecast that every man, woman and child in the U.S. would shortly share a portion of a record $20-Trillion debt.
‘Trillion!‘, you might gasp. Let’s be clear. One billion is one thousand million. One trillion is one thousand billion.
For some perspective on just how big a trillion Dollars is, consider this:
One trillion Dollars is the number 1 followed by 12 zeroes; or, 1,000,000,000,000.
Or, think of it this way.
One trillion $1.00 bills stacked one on top of the other would reach nearly 68,000 miles (say, 109,400 km) into the sky. That is about one-third (1/3rd) of the way from the Earth to the moon!
Akin to not being too keen about some neighbor’s sleeping with your wife, finally, at least some Republicans are hardly ‘over the moon‘ about the growing size of the national debt.
Some seven years ago now, my former classmate and now U.S. Senate Republican Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell, warned that that Americans have become desensitized to just how much money that is.
“To put a trillion dollars in context, if you spend a million dollars, every day, since Jesus was born, you still wouldn’t have spent a trillion,” McConnell famously said.
CNN checked McConnell’s numbers with noted Temple University math professor and author John Allen Paulos.
“A million dollars a day for 2,000 years is only three-quarters of a trillion dollars. It’s a big number no matter how you slice it,” Paulos said.
Here’s another way to look at it.
“A million seconds is about 11½ days.
“A billion seconds is about 32 years, and a trillion seconds is 32,000 years,” Paulos said.
“People tend to lump them together, perhaps because they rhyme, but if you think of it in terms of a jail sentence, do you want to go to jail for 11½ days or 32 years or maybe 32,000 years?
“So, they’re vastly different, and people generally don’t really have a real visceral grasp of the differences among them.”
By that measure, 20 trillions is 20 times 32,000 years or 640,000 years!
Although, yes, I confess to be the son of frugal parents and grandparents, those are not the only reasons I find myself a spending and deficit hawk.
One frets, mightily, how it will be possible to pay off a staggering $20-Trillion debt.
Granted, the West in general (save now for the EU, given the impending social collapses in several cities, indeed nations) has in the past managed to ‘muddle through’, although sometimes only after truly horrific interludes, e.g., general strikes, hyperinflation, wars, etc.
With all this rampant gloom, it was a total shocker to see a spirited, impressive defense of the West and Western social mores in particular coming out of, from all places, the Middle East!
Far more staggering even than that is when such praise comes from a native of the region who is herself a mere ‘chattel’; e.g., the ‘property’ of some man, whether her father or her husband, depending upon her marital status, and all according to the Koran.
The Saudi-born singer Shams Bandar (also known mononymously as “Shams” or “Shams the Kuwaiti“) recently declared that she was renouncing both her Saudi and Kuwaiti nationalities for the sake of European citizenship.
As of this April, the by then 36-year old will still be the Arab world’s goddess of both the ‘Arabpop’ and ‘Khaliji’ musical genres.
In a recent interview with Egypt’s ‘Dream TV’ channel, this thoroughly-Westernised, Western-dressed lady spiritedly defended her decision, and how!
Host: Are you trying to sell the notion that foreign citizenship is the Paradise that will save you from the Hell of the Arab world?
Shams Bandar: Do you want me to be a hypocrite or not?
Host: I want the truth. Is it Paradise?
Shams Bandar: Of course. At this time…
Host: People will accuse you of treason, of collaboration, and the selling out of the Arab cause.
Shams Bandar: I have been accused of that for a long time now. It’s nothing new. Foreign citizenship… It’s not that I’m happy with the way things are, but let’s not deceive ourselves. Why tell ourselves lies?
The Syrians are scattered in the world’s oceans, dying by the millions on a daily basis… Iraqis are dying by the millions… All the Arab countries have closed their borders to them.
What can these wretched people do with their Arab citizenship? How does a suffering Syrian benefit from his Arab citizenship, when his children and family have been killed and his life has been destroyed?
His own Arab brethren do not let him in.
What if he were a British citizen? Wouldn’t the British Embassy send a ship to get their citizens out?
Why are we lying? Why aren’t we telling the truth? I’m not forcing people to get foreign citizenship.
Host: But it is these countries that caused the catastrophes of the [Arab] peoples. I wouldn’t portray these countries as life savers.
Shams Bandar: They are not life savers. But in Britain or America… Note that I am against the policies of their governments. I always say so.
But show me where it says in their constitutions that you can chop people’s hands off, stone people, execute them in the streets, or do all the things done by ISIS and the Islamist movements, which are harmful to Islam.
Do you see in the American Constitution and law any of the things perpetrated by our Muslims?
Can we say that they do these things in the West too?
Why would they, when their constitutions are all about the respect for humanity? Let’s not get into what they do in secret, because I have no proof of that.
Host: What about their barbaric, bloody, aggressive conduct…
Shams Bandar: I see no evidence of that. All I see is laws, legislation, and constitution.
Can anyone convince me that in America or Europe, they do what ISIS is doing to the Syrians, to the Yazidis, or to the Iraqis?
Why do we pin all our problems on the West? For 1,400 years we have been slaughtering one another, just because one of us prays one way and another prays a different way.
America wasn’t around 1,400 years ago. It wasn’t around even 300 years ago. We have been fighting and shedding blood for 1,400 years, and now we are blaming America and Britain?! [End Quote]
Perhaps it’s the fatherly instinct in me, or since this young lady and our son are essentially the same age, I, and I daresay many of you will deeply admire this young woman’s intellect and sheer spunk, given her links to Saudi Arabia, and the barbarity of that regime.
Consider the status and fate of her Saudi ‘sisters‘, wrapped up in the cloth version of a black bin/garbage bag.
To me, Shams comes into the West or New World not merely, quintessentially, as a pilgrim, but indeed a pilgrim who is in need of the greatest protection, to say the least.
Even before we call on Your name
To ask You, O God,
When we seek for the words to glorify You,
You hear our prayer;
Unceasing love, O unceasing love,
Surpassing all we know.
Glory to the father,
and to the Son,
And to the Holy Spirit.
Even with darkness sealing us in,
We breathe Your name,
And through all the days that follow so fast,
We trust in You;
Endless Your grace, O endless Your grace,
Beyond all mortal dream.
Both now and forever,
And unto ages and ages,
One hope she finds “unceasing love”, although that is not something I expect her to encounter, or assuredly not from islamist governments and their venomous agents.
One lives in hope.
Assuredly, ‘Shams’ just hopes to live!
Ms. Shams Bandar Al-Aslami records exclusively for the Rotana label, yet another business owned by Prince Al-Waleed Bin Talal bin Abdulaziz al Saud, a Member of the Saudi Royal Family, and mega-billionaire businessman.
For one example of her typical Arab-pop singing style, etc., see: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9M8RuEkKzXo
U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell of The Commonwealth of Kentucky
Twitter: @SenateMajLdr & @mcconnellpress
Original text for “Pilgrims’ Hymn” by Stephen Paulus, Ph.D.
edited and revised by Michael Dennis Browne.
Performed by the Choir of The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, under the direction of Dr. Gary R. Schwartzhoff
The Milwaukee Art Museum is, genuinely, both an architectural and an artistic treasure. Designed by the Spanish architect, Santiago Calatrava (@S_Calatrava, http://www.calatrava.com), this is a must-see on everyone’s list.
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