Richard Feynman Quote

“There are 10^11 stars in the galaxy. That used to be a huge number. But it's only a hundred billion. It's less than the national deficit! We used to call them astronomical numbers. Now we should call them economical numbers.”

~ Richard Feynman

Ratings and Comments

zeitgeist, los angeles

Richard Feynman: a folk hero/legend [in physics] in his own time. He was spot on here (and it was written a number of years ago). A few years before his death, the astrophysicist Carl Sagen had a series on TV called Cosmos. In it he stated many times over that the cosmos contained "billions and billions of stars." At the time it was a number we couldn't get our minds around. Unfortunately, it's now a number the politicians in power have forced us to get our minds around. I've always thought that if these people would simply treat these hard come by monies as if they were their own, saved for over a long period of time and thought of as something difficult to replace, we'd never have found ourselves in such a fiscal situation. The level of incompetence shown thus far in dealing with the current financial difficulty is so unbelievble, one wonders if it is all part of some greater unspeakable design ... think Soros and his ilk with Obama as a mere functionary.

J Carlton, Calgary

The goal is total control. The means is "break" the American people. Break them, disarm them and make them part of the beige global taxpayer / sheep... Time for a big BBQ on the east coast.

jim k, austin

A hundred billion is chump change compared to what Obama, Pelosi,Reed,and the rest of the Marxists in Washington have in store for us. Zeitgeist and J Carlton summed up perfectly what is happening right now.

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Anon    3/20/09

zeitgeist, you said "one wonders if it is all part of some greater unspeakable design ... think Soros and his ilk with Obama as a mere functionary." You are right, but I believe the design is not unspeakable and to speak of it for what it is, the system of the beast so that no man might buy or sell without the mark is to speak the truth.

Waffler, Smith

The numbers involved in national finance have always been astronomical. Read the history of the Civil War and what polite society thought of Lincolns extortionary income tax or read what polite society thought of the reinstituted tax in 1913 when it was pegged at 2% on a very small percentage of the people. Name a time when "the people" did not think taxes were to high. Don't you see it is a "games people play". The issue should be can we do things a different way. Other very successful and happy nations have taxes much higher than ours. Ours are not high enough to balance the books. I give it a five, it is refreshing to see a phyicist with a sense of humour.

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Blue    3/20/09

Too bad more american's dont consider our income tax too high---to the point to vote for lower taxes and reduced spending.

jim k, austin

Waff, your comment that our taxes are not high enough to balance the books is rediculous for two reasons. When taxes are lowered, not raised, the economy improves and more taxes flow into the treasury. Number two is even if higher taxes sent more tax money to Washington, the politicians would just spend it, they wouldn't "balance" any books.

Waffler, Smith

With your logic Jim K if taxes were reduced to zero Washington would be overflowing in money, ha ha ha. You are partly right but as usual only partly. I repeat taxes have and always will be to high, whether they are 1% ot 50%. Again I beg of you to name a time when taxes were not to high. The Swedes seem to get along fairly well with the highest tax rates in the world, aroung 50% so what is the big deal about rates.

A.WOODS, Gloucester

Zeitgeist, you make an excellent point about the difficulty in getting our minds around the numbers being tossed about these days. I'm sure this is true of the politicians and "experts" tossing around the money the numbers represent; I doubt most of them can understand these numbers as anything knottier than "big".__ I heard a story on the radio about this difficulty we have, and it included a useful illustration on the difference between millions and billions: One million seconds is a little over 11 1/2 Days. One billion seconds is roughly 31 3/4 Years.

A.WOODS, Gloucester

Waffler, what "polite society" may have written about the 16th Amendment in 1913 was inspired by the fact that it and the ensuant surcharges applied primarily to the affluent and that, for the time being, they were expected to pay it. Also, you seem to equate the "polite society" complaining about the income tax with "'the people'... (who thought) taxes were to (sic) high." Do you mean to say that the individuals and businesses occupying the highest tax brackets are "the people"?

Waffler, Smith

I probably used the phrase flippantly. What I meant is all people everywhere at all times usaully complain about taxes. They always want them to disappear. They never do and we always have them. So lets move on to a discussion of how much we need, and where to apply them etcetera. The discussion to do away with the IRS, taxes etc is a little childish don't we think?

Mike, Norwalk

Great comments by all except Waffler. Poor Waffler, he just can't get over why the childish adults don't want compelled compliance, license, governmental larceny, victimless crimes, diminished rights, societal slavery, tyranny, and despotism. Waffler, a year when taxes weren't too high for the individual from a national perspective was 1912. What was received in taxes in 2007 - excluding income taxes was greater than all taxes received in 1995. The problem is not taxes, one of the problems is where taxes come from. No government can exist without taxes. If the IRS and income tax were done away with entirely and, federal spending was limited to Constitutional and fiscal absolutes (don't spend more than you have - replace debt with tangible money with intrinsic value, etc.) the problem would be solved. The discussion to do away with the IRS, taxes etc. is not in any way a childish one but rather, a mathematical issue several elementary grade levels above Waffler's ability to fathom. On a different note, economy of the stars, I like it ;-).

E Archer, NYC

The budget numbers are not economical or astronomical, they are an Obamanation! And for those of you who still think that taxes pay for anything, they don't. They are merely the rent we pay for the money supply. The IRS is the collection agency for the Federal Reserve Bank -- if you have ever sent a check to the IRS, look at the stamp on the back -- it went to the Fed not the US Treasury. If the government can issue a bond, it can issue a bill, it does not need the Fed or the IRS. The banking cartel has more representation in the presidential cabinet EVER in the histiry of the US. This government is of the banks, by the banks, and for the banks. No other sector is represented in Obama's cabinet -- Wall Street all!! And they are hell-bent on bringing us down before the people wake up. The race is on!

Historian, AR

Nobody noticed that Feynman was making this observation during the Reagan administration, when the deficit exceeded 100 billion for the first time and spiked to unprecedented 6% of GDP. Feynman was poking fun at Reagan deficit spending. Alas, Americans have short memories. You can find the chart here:

Mike, Norwalk

Historian, have you catalogued the creative accounting that went on during Clinton's time in the oval office or how Bush took over in a major economic bust. Clinton was the benefactor of several economic balloons (more than just bubbles) - some of which could not be continued, such as the .com bubble. The last president assassinated was the last president to try and reign in the economy of the stars.

empty pockets, NO, La

The big spenders aren't worried...they know it's all fiat "money" anyway...just ones and zeroes. Wait till we find out how they've collateralized it though.

Ronw13, Yachats Or

The People are waking up, proportionally to the unrest around this nation, as the world. Stage setting. The open vision of Liberty embraced by our Founding Fathers, some wish to close. Change is always near and surly relatives come to visit. Foreshadowing, events in the heavens. No wonder bankers reach for the stars ! But, they will be brought down !


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