Breaking the Barrier

For anyone but a mathematician, it is a number beyond meaning, whether characterized as a thousand billion, a million million, or written out as a one followed by a dozen zeros. The number is a trillion, and last week Ronald Reagan signed a bill increasing the legal debt limit of the U.S. Government for the first time to more than $1 trillion.

Washington has run deficits in 42 of the past 50 years and has been forced to borrow heavily to bridge the gap between income and outlay. The Government does this by issuing bonds, notes and bills, which are promises to...

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