This is a rush transcript from "Glenn Beck," March 6, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
GLENN BECK, HOST: Now, joining me to help understand the math behind $1 trillion is Danica McKellar. She is the author and bestseller — what's the name of your — what's the name of your book?
DANICA MCKELLAR, AUTHOR, "KISS MY MATH": I got two books. I got "Math Doesn't Suck" and "Kiss My Math."
BECK: You are a — do you recognize her face, America? If you watched "The Wonder Years."
Now, here's the — here's the thing. I think America has a problem with a couple of things. One, they don't know what their principles are. They have no idea.
MCKELLAR: I was so inspired by what you are saying. It’s true, people are willing to give up freedom for security, and I — and now, it looks like we don't even have security, right?
BECK: I think I love her more than — on "The Wonder Years."
OK. But here's the other problem. The other problem is, these numbers don't mean anything.
MCKELLAR: Yes. The numbers — because, you know, and part of the problem with numbers not meaning anything is because this country loves math illiteracy for whatever reason. People are proud to say, oh, I can't do math. But nobody would ever say, oh, I can't read. You'd never hear that.
BECK: So, you're — but now, you're a math genius.
MCKELLAR: I do love math. I didn't used to love math.
BECK: I hate math.
MCKELLAR: In middle school, I used to struggle with math. And what I want to do is take the stigma off of math, especially for girls, especially for kids, because our next generation is going to get into our next spring, whenever that is, they need to be comfortable with numbers.
BECK: OK. So...
MCKELLAR: The fear of numbers, I think, is something that, you know, continues through adulthood, and the when people ignore the numbers, when young adults, they ignore the percents on their credit cards or their mortgage, you know, contracts they're getting, when they don't understand that, because they still are doing everything they can to ignore numbers, they're in trouble.
BECK: So, help me understand — help America understand how big is $1 trillion?
MCKELLAR: A trillion is a really, really big number.
BECK: I got that.
MCKELLAR: I mean, a thousand has three zeros on it, right?
BECK: Got it.
MCKELLAR: A billion has nine zeros on it. A trillion has 12 zeros on it. They say, if you're going to count to a billion, it would take approximately 95 years. A trillion is a thousand billion. That would take you 95,000 years.
If you had $1 trillion dollars in $1 bills, and you're going to count them, it would take you 95,000 years, a thousand generations of people who lived to over 100, they can grow up to be old enough to start counting, a thousand generations.
BECK: So, how do we — so, how do we make this understandable that we just spent $4 trillion?
MCKELLAR: OK. But the other thing about numbers is that they are relative. So, a trillion is a lot if you have to count dollar bills, but if you are to distribute that among the United States, to citizenship — man, woman and child, then you'd end up with giving each of them about $3,300.
BECK: So, we only spent $3,300 for every man, woman and child?
MCKELLAR: Per person, yes.
BECK: Per person?
MCKELLAR: But times four, I guess.
BECK: You — yes, every — what do you mean times four?
MCKELLAR: You said 4 trillion, right?
BECK: OK, that's 1 trillion?
BECK: OK. Oh, that's fantastic. So, now, we have to pay that off with interest just like a credit card?
BECK: Any idea how long? I mean, because all of the other numbers, the economists say, they're projecting that things are going to get...
MCKELLAR: They just taxed everybody an extra $3,300 in their taxes, and we'll be a fourth of the way there. I'm not suggesting that.
MCKELLAR: I'm not suggesting that. But that's one of the things, that's the thing about taxes, is that you can get big numbers fast, only the numbers of people...
BECK: I think that's the key, though. If you would just say to everybody — if President Obama looked at you and said, America, this means your kids are going to spend $3,300 times four...
BECK: ... for each of you, every member of the family, this is what it is going to cost you, we'd say no. But $4 trillion, for some reason, we say OK.
MCKELLAR: Well, because it's so — it just — it doesn't mean anything. It's just a number. We hear these numbers all the time. And the news uses numbers for shock value in one direction or another and — not this show.
BECK: Yes, no we're not into shock at all!
BECK: Not us, not at all.
MCKELLAR: They use numbers to sound impressive. And sometimes they are and sometimes they aren't. You have to divide it by the number of people it's affecting.
BECK: What are you doing now? You're writing books and...
MCKELLAR: I'm writing books. I've got "Math Doesn't Suck," which is for ages 10 to 12 years old, "Kiss My Math" is for ages 12 to 14. I'm attacking the problem from that age, from that perspective, so that when these kids get older, they'll be more responsible of their money and they'll know that numbers mean power.
BECK: I'm just saying. I'm just saying I would have listened to this math teacher.
BECK: All right, thanks a lot. I appreciate it.
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