There Goes the Neighborhood

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You know those small, almost subliminal details, the things that you may not consciously notice when you walk through your neighborhood, but that you may later recall as portents of doom? A broken window, a lawn that isn’t mowed much anymore, a roof that slopes where it didn’t use to slope … They’re unimportant in themselves. You’d be a fool to worry about them. Nevertheless … is this when the slide begins?

I’ve begun to notice one of these possible portents in our common neighborhood, America. It may not mean anything, but still … Have you observed that the letter “T” is now appearing where it didn’t appear before? I mean “T’ as an abbreviation for “trillion.”

We’re used to expressions like “5K” for 5,000, and “5M” for 5,000,000, and even “5B” for 5,000,000,000. But “trillion” was formerly so unusual that it was always written out as a whole word. Now, more and more, one sees “5T,” or “8.6T,” or even larger, less imaginable T’s. And they don’t appear in news releases about astronomy; they appear in news releases about the United States’ so-called budget.

This can’t be good. Heaven forbid that we ever see that letter “T” printed on what used to be a dollar bill.

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