You may have heard that Ross Perot is making news again in this election.
Again, for those of you who are 20 or younger, refers to when Perot ran for president in 1992 and 1996. Whether people agreed with Perot or not, and for many, he was a fresh breath of air on the political scene, at least at first -- it was hard to find fault with signature campaign issue: bring down the national debt.
He gained a lot of attention during both elections -- well, that's understating it; in 1992, he took approximately 20 percent of the vote -- and one of the reasons he got noticed was that the Texas billionaire businessman bought time on network television and talked about the national debt, explaining the gravity of the situation with a lot of graphs and colorful charts. Comedians poked fun at the charts, and so did many editorial cartoonists, but the consensus was generally that Perot made a strong impression. National debt may have not been the top issue in 1992, but people were talking about it, and they did when he returned to run in 1996.
And now he's back. This time, he isn't running for office, but Perot, almost 78, is trying to sound the alarm about the national debt. He is worried that the government is bankrupting our country.
So, at the risk of igniting a political debate in the comments section, and I really don't want to -- I just think the issue of our national debt is interesting -- I checked out his new web site, PerotCharts.com, and thought I'd mention it to WalletPop readers.
Besides, I figured it might be nice to see a familiar face from the 1990s, and to hear that rich Texas twang.
It was nice to see Perot, and I appreciate what he's doing, but I have to admit, I didn't enjoy my visit much. Not that his web site isn't well done. No, it's just that he scared me out of my wits.His web site has thought-provoking lines like: "The American people must wake up and face the reality that promises made in the past will soon bankrupt this nation."
But what really got to me was a video greeting that I watched, Perot laid out the situation, that the United States is adding $1 billion to our national debt every day.
Then a little later, he threw out some more fun tidbits.
Did you know that if America created a special account just for paying off the national debt, and we put $1 in it, per second, it would take over 297,000 years to pay off the national debt.
Then, as if to show-off, Perot said that if we paid off our $9.4 trillion debt by putting dollar bills in box cars, we would have a train of box cars almost 1,400 miles long.
And if we lined up one dollar bills, stretching them from the Earth to the Moon and then back to the Moon. We would have to do this 109,000 times before paying off the national debt.
Suddenly, I found myself a little depressed and looking for web sites with kittens and butterflies on them. But don't get me wrong. I appreciate him putting this out there and maybe I'll follow his advice and call my senator or Congressman and tell them that I want Washington to do something about the national debt.
And not that I watched every minute of video or perused every chart Perot offers -- he has a lot -- but as far as I can tell, he doesn't do any fear-mongering. Perot doesn't have to. He just offers the facts about the national debt. Scariest stuff I've ever seen.
Geoff Williams is a business journalist and the author of C.C. Pyle's Amazing Foot Race: The True Story of the 1928 Coast-to-Coast Run Across America (Rodale).
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