Integers and the National Debt

How can you have negative of something?  It is a common question that grade school kids ask their teachers and parents.  It can be hard to comprehend, but it becomes clearer if you think about in terms of borrowing and paying back.

If I give you two candy bars, and we agree that you must give them back to me at some point, what happens if you eat the candy bars?  Instead of being able to open your drawer and give me two candy bars, you now have none left, so you owe me two candy bars.  Owing someone two of something can be thought of as being two numbers backward from zero on the number line, or negative two:

Being in debt to someone is typically not a good thing.  What if you kept borrowing candy from me, and you kept eating it for a long long time?   You might end up with a mountain of candy debt, that would be a lot further to the left on the number line than just negative two!

Currently the United States is roughly $18 Trillion in debt, that’s a lot of candy!  As a country, how did we get to this point, and what can we do to fix it?  To gain an idea of how our national debt was and is continuing to be acquired, check out this great video!  Will there ever be an end to the exponential growth of our national debt?  Check out where our debt ceiling stands today in this article!

Integers are great tools to have around as they offer the flexibility of going backwards and forwards on the number line.  They allow us to balance our personal budgets, and plan for our economic futures.  They help us understand credit card debt, home mortgages, and income management. Having an understanding of these concepts, is a crucial element of living in today’s society.  Knowledge of integers will help to better prepare you for your future!


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