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Hey matt:

Regarding the national debt, just who does the federal government owe this money to? I never loaned them any money, and I can't think of anyone I know who did either.

--Sean Marie, Ocean Beach

Well, it's not like Unca Sammy comes to your door personally and asks for a couple of bucks to tide him over till payday. Own any T-bills or bonds? Have money in a diversified mutual fund? If ya do, then you're on the feds' list of creditors. When Washington doesn't have enough money to cover expenses, which is most of the time, the Treasury Department raises cash by selling securities. They're bought by us private-individual types, banks, insurance companies, et cet. The national debt is the total the feds owe us to repay our investment. At the moment, the feds have wheedled out of us several trillion dollars -- some number not worth mentioning because it's so huge it has no real meaning. But consider that the debt passed the $1 billion mark in 1863. In fact, one of the first things the government did after 1776 was float some bonds to rich landowners, figuring the men would be more likely to support Washington's new enterprise if it owed them money. So debt is as American as apple pie. Apple pie and bankruptcy.

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