To make good on these obligations, each resident of the United States would have to send nearly $2,730 to the Chinese government, $2,600 to Japan and $721 to that team of oil-producing nations. In total, $12,973 is going to be drained from your bank account to settle things with other nations.
You are also going to have to pay off the numerous commercial banks and credit unions that invest in Treasuries to the tune of about $670 per person. Insurance companies will want an estimated $764 to make good on their bond bets. Mutual funds will want $2,149 for their investments. State and local municipalities will put in a claim for $1,718. Government pension funds will need payment of $1,660. And individual investors, and that includes everyone who buys savings bonds, will come knocking for $3,850.
All those bills still don't account for more esoteric debt-related items nor the intricacies of intragovernmental borrowing.
For those so inclined to do their part in fighting the national debt, the government accept contributions. There is even a convenient online contribution form.
You can also write a check payable to the Bureau of the Public Debt and note, in the memo section, that it is a "Gift to reduce the Debt Held by the Public," sending it along to: Attn. Dept G, Bureau of the Public Debt, P. O. Box 2188, Parkersburg, WV 26106-2188.
Who would do such a thing? Information on specific donors isn't readily available, but the amount they contributed is. In 2008, nearly $2.2 million was collected. Fiscal Year 2009 netted some $3 million and early counts for this year put it on pace for $2.7 million. In 1996, the year the program began, just under $2 million was collected.
Donations are tax deductible, but come with the caveat that they are "voluntary and no goods or services or other considerations are provided to donors."
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