United States government debt in public hands is now more than $9 trillion, but most people still don’t realize what it will take to pay that off.

Here’s an example: Say that you have $20,000 in Treasury bills. You probably believe that you own $20,000 in wealth. This will encourage you to spend and come up with ambitious plans. Yet someone -- quite possibly you -- will be taxed in the future to pay off the government debt. The $20,000 may be needed in order to do that.

via The Fiscal Illusion and How to Face It - Economic View - NYTimes.com.