Never was so much owed by so many for so little
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The Treasury will publish full accounts for all Whitehall departments to give taxpayers an idea of what the public finances would look like if it was a company.
The move will for the first time bring into one place the future liabilities of accrued pension liabilities for public sector workers and the future costs of schools and hospitals built using the private finance initiative.
Not before time. All this off book stuff has been hiding the true cost of the profligacy of recent British governments (including the current one) for way too long.
Experts suggest that this will add an estimated £1,200billion from debt in the accounts of 1,500 public bodies to the Government’s books.
Adding in the official national debt figure of £909billion, it takes the overall total debt bill to more than £2,000 billion, as at the end of 2009/10.
And that’s not the highest estimate I’ve ever heard. I’m sure the old Burning Our Money blog gave higher estimates of the real debt now and then, but let’s assume that £2,000 billion, or two trillion if you prefer, covers it all. How much is that in meaningful terms?
Well, this sort of thing has been done before of course, but since that picture has a bit of cash in it I thought it’d be interesting in a random kind of way to start from there. In it I can see a couple of tenners, a couple of twenties and 22 £1 coins. If you were to throw away that £82 and follow it up by throwing away another £82 a minute later and so on and so on then in 24 hours you’d have thrown away just over a hundred grand – £118,080 to be precise – and if you kept it up for a year you’d have chucked just over £43 million. But if you started a little while ago, actually just over two thousand years ago at midnight on New Year’s Day, year Zero AD, then by now you’d have thrown away only – hah, only – £86 billion and some change. Change in this case meaning £730,232,238. Clearly a long way to go to equal the UK’s debt by chucking away money at that same rate of £82 per minute – and let’s be honest if we saw someone chucking away eighty quid every sixty seconds we’d think he was an idiot. Starting from 0AD again, from today you’d have to keep going for another 44,373 years. Worse still, you wouldn’t finish until halfway through October.
Now that’s a very simple calculation and doesn’t allow for such things as meal breaks, sleep, days off, sick leave, holiday time and dropping dead with well over 460 centuries to go, so you might be thinking of sharing the workload a bit. If you enlisted the help of ninety nine other people and covered for each other to allow for breaks and a bit of sex – probably quite good sex if you’ve ever fancied doing it on a huge pile of money – to breed replacement money wasters you could get it done in just a few generations. But of course there’s an even faster way to do it which involves almost no effort at all.
Give the job to a government.