March Activism Event: Visualize the Debt

Visualize the Debt

14 Trillion Reasons to Take Action

Did you know that the national debt increased more in the last 10 years than the first two centuries of our history combined?

Did you know that you could spend $443,937 every second for a year and still not spend as much as the U.S. national debt?

Did you know that each and every taxpayer owes nearly $130,000 to pay off the national debt?

Did you know that this is your future?

You and I must bring attention to our government's radical spending spree! The enormity of this situation is only getting worse and our generation will soon face the dire consequences.

To educate students and send notice to elected officials, YAL is organizing a national activism event for this month: "Visualize the Debt."


Join the YAL National Event:  "Visualize the Debt"

The essential details:

  • When:  The last weekend of this month, March 28 to April 1
  • What:  A nationwide YAL activism event to "Visualize the Debt"
  • How:  Each participating chapter is eligible to receive a $100 Activism Grant and a "Visualize the Debt" Activism Kit from YAL National (application instructions below)
  • Build:  A giant national debt clock to attract attention on campus (detailed instructional video below)
  • Display:  One or more infographics explaining the gravity of the national debt
  • Distribute:  Activism kit materials, YARs, YAL palmcards and ready-made, customizable flyers (available for download below) to interested students
  • Collaborate:  Reach out to other political groups on your campus to see if they're willing to cosponsor this event with you.  This is a great way to build a campus coalition for liberty -- not to mention make new friends
  • Recruit:  New members for your chapter
  • Earn:  Media attention for your chapter -- YAL National will provide templates to help you draft press releases and can also help you develop a press list
  • Win:  Enter YAL's contest (details below) to win up to $500 in cash for your chapter for best visualizing the debt!

Download A How-To Guide to Effectively Plan Your Event

How-To Guide

Click here or scroll to the bottom of the page to download a timeline/to-do list to help you organize your event.

Apply for an Activism Kit and Grant

Now that you've decided to join dozens of other YAL chapters across the country in visualizing the national debt on your campus this March, you might want a little help getting started.  After all, the size of the debt means this is no small project.

Never fear, YAL National is here with free kits and grants to jumpstart your activism.

So submit your application for a "Visualize the Debt" activism kit and $100 (or more!) activism grant today!  The kit will include:

The application is quick and easy to submit and includes space at the end to request a larger activism grant if you think your chapter's plan to visualize the debt merits it.


Visualize the Debt:  Build a Massive Debt Clock

Originated by the Auburn University YAL chapter, nothing attracts attention on campus like a giant national debt clock:

image    image

Here's a step-by-step instructional video for how to construct your own debt clock:


OSB board cut 1

In case you missed it, here are the materials you'll need for this project:

  1. Six (6) 4'x8' 7/16 OSB Boards
  2. One (1) quart Black Paint
  3. One (1) gal. White Paint
  4. Three (3) Paint Brushes
  5. Two (2) Paint Rollers
  6. Two (2) Paint Trays
  7. Two (2) Yard Sticks
  8. One (1) Can Black Spray Paint
  9. One (1) Can Blue Spray Paint

Win Cash Prizes for Your Chapter's Awesomeness

After your "Visualize the Debt" event, don't forget to submit a report of your activism to YAL's headquarters to be entered in an activism contest.  All reports are due by April 15.  You may submit them to the YAL National blog (preferred) or to

There are four categories to enter:

  1. Best overall event
    1. $500 cash for your chapter, plus 5 YAL t-shirts
    2. $250 cash for your chapter, plus 5 YAL t-shirts
    3. $100 cash for your chapter, plus 5 YAL t-shirts
  2. Best pictures and video -- $250 for your chapter
  3. Most petition signatures collected -- $250 for your chapter
  4. Most media attention earned -- $250 for your chapter

The best overall event will be judged on creativity, the number of students recruited, the quality of the pictures and/or video taken, media coverage earned, and the quantity of students effectively educated about the constitutional message.  Winning submissions will include a detailed description of your activism idea, the number of people you recruited to your YAL chapter, quality pictures, news stories reporting on your event, and any other creative details you can add to make your chapter stand out -- especially a YouTube video.

Only one entry is required for all four contest categories.  Not all these criteria must be included, but it is strongly recommended that you thoroughly document your event.

To enter your activism event in all four categories, simply submit a report of your activism to the YAL blog or (blog posts are preferred).  All contest entries are due by April 15.

Participating Chapters

Anne Arundel Community College
Appalachian State University
Armstrong Atlantic State University
Auburn University
Bloomsburg University
Brigham Young University
California State University - Bakersfield
California State University - Fullerton
California State University - San Bernardino
California State University - San Marcos
Clark University
Clayton State University
College of Charleston
Colorado State University
Des Moines Area Community College
East Carolina University
Florida State University
Georgia Southern University
Grace College and Theological Seminary
Indiana University - Bloomington
Indiana University - Purdue University - Indianapolis
Indiana University Kokomo
Indiana University Southeast
Johns Hopkins University
Kansas State University
Long Beach City College
Louisiana State University
Michigan State University
MidAmerica Nazarene University
Middle Tennessee State University
Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College
Mississippi State University
Montana State University
North Carolina State University
Northeastern University
Ohio State University
Old Dominion University
Purdue University
Ramapo College of New Jersey
Rio Hondo College
Rutgers University Camden
Saint Cloud State University
Sierra College
Texas State University
University at Buffalo
University of Alabama
University of Alabama at Birmingham
University of Arizona
University of Arkansas
University of California - Davis
University of California - Irvine
University of California - Los Angeles
University of California - San Diego
University of California - Santa Barbara
University of Central Florida
University of Cincinnati
University of Georgia
University of Houston - Clear Lake
University of Idaho
University of Illinois at Urbana - Champaign
University of Iowa
University of Kansas
University of Kentucky
University of Maryland - College Park
University of Mississippi
University of Northern Iowa
University of Scranton
University of South Florida
University of Texas at Austin
University of Virginia
University of Washington
University of Wisconsin - Madison
Utah State University
Vanderbilt University
Virginia Commonwealth University
Washington State University
Western Illinois University
Western State University College of Law

National Debt Facts

ChartUse these (shocking) facts to raise awareness on your campus about the gravity of the national debt. 

  • US debt as of March 1, 2011: $14,152,000,000,000.  That’s $45,600 for every man woman and child in the U.S. and $128,000 per tax payer.

  • The past 30 years of box office revenue for every film is $264.1 billion.  That is only 19/1000 of the national debt.

  • Total outstanding credit card debt to top 15 U.S. banks though 2009 was $726.9 billion.  That is only 1/20 of the national debt.

  • The rest of the Western Hemisphere’s debt (Canada, Mexico and all of South and Central America) is $1.55 trillion.  That is slightly more than 1/10 of our national debt.

  • The United States’ total gold reserves are 261.5 million troy ounces.  The commodity value is $373.7 billion.  That is only 26/1000 of the national debt.

  • Stacks of 14 trillion $1 bills covering three footballs fields would reach over a height of 3,323 ft.  The Empire State Building is only 1,454 ft. high. 

  • $14 trillion can buy you 23.1 billion shares of Google stock, 62 million Harvard educations, 35 million Rolls Royce Phantoms, 16.5 million iPads, or 70 trillion chicken nuggets from Wendy’s.

  • With $14 trillion, you could employ the entire labor of the Unites States at the medium income of $28,697 for three years.

  • $14 trillion could feed everyone in Africa on $3/day for 13 years.

  • $14 trillion in $100 bills would fill 2,352 eighteen wheelers.

  • Who owns the debt?

                    Canada:  $87.6 billion

                    Hong Kong:  $138.9 billion

                    Caribbean Banking Centers: $146.3 billion

                    Brazil: $184.4 billion

                    Oil Exporters:  $210.4 billion

                    Insurance Companies: $261.8 billion

                    Depository Institutions: $269.8 billion

                    UK: $511.8 billion

                    State and Local Governments:  $511.8 billion

                    Mutual Funds: $637.7 billion

                    Pension Funds: $706.4 billion

                    Japan: $877.2 billion

                    China:  $895.6 billion

                    Other Investors/Saving Bonds: $1.458 trillion

                    Federal Reserve and Intragrovernmental Holdings: $5.351 trillion

  • You could buy 200 billion kegs of Pabst Blue Ribbon with $14 trillion. That is enough to party forever.

  • If you took 14 trillion $1 bills, you could put them end to end around the equator 54,474 times.  Assuming that the dollars bills would not burn, you could place dollar bills end to end around the sun 500 times.

  • It would take two hours traveling at the speed of light to go the length of 14 trillion $1 bills laid end to end.

  • If you spend $1000 a second, it would take you 445 years to spend $14 trillion.

  • You could buy 14,000 NFL teams for $14 trillion.
  • You would have to spend $9,000 a second for 50 years to spend a total of $14 trillion in your lifetime.  50 years ago, in 1961, the national debt was less than half a trillion dollars, which means that $9,000 per second is only a little bit off the federal government's actual average spending rate.
  • Just how big is a trillion?  It's obviously quite a lot bigger than a million or a billion, but numbers that large become...difficult to picture, to put it mildly.  Let's look at it in terms of seconds for greater clarity:  A million seconds is about 11.5 days.  A billion seconds is about 32 years.  And a trillion seconds is 32,000 years.

Debt Cartoon

Ready-Made Flyers

Here at YAL National, we've whipped up some flyers for you to use in your national debt activism this month.  All you have to do is download them, fill in your contact information at the bottom, and print!  Scroll to the very bottom of this page to download, or simply click the image of the flyers you prefer:

Fact Sheet     Looks Nice     Spending Facts

Credit Cards    Supporting Wars     American Dream

National Debt Infographics

Graphical presentations of data allow people to experience what you're trying to communicate instead of simply reading it.  The attractive layout of a good infographic will be far more eye-catching and informative than text.  It will also likely prove more persuasive to your target audience -- college students -- who are very accustomed to processing new information from the infographic format.

Click on each of the below images for a larger version which you can download and have printed on a poster-sized display.  Arranging several of these infographics at your table will certainly attract the interest of passersby. 

Make sure you notice how recently the infographic(s) you choose was made; the national debt increases so quickly that some of these are already a little out of date.  Notice the figures they use and be prepared to explain to anyone who stops to talk to you what the national debt currently is.  You might even want to add a Post-it Note to your infographic poster which provides the current numbers.

Visualize2     America     Global

Visualize     Owns  process


Football     balance


 tsunami     death

NOTE:  These infographics were not created by Young Americans for Liberty and we do not claim credit for or ownership of them.