Laughing matter? The clock&rsquo;s ticking as debt rises. <em>*iStock photo</em>
Laughing matter? The clock’s ticking as debt rises. *iStock photo

WEDNESDAY, SEPT. 19: Life is serious and hard knocks can knock hard. But serious or not, and even with the devil’s fiery breath singeing your neck, find the humour and laugh! And if you’ve been knocked down, get up, dust off, move on, look that devil in the eye — laugh — and keep moving.

In all my years of part-time and professional soldiering (in Bermuda, UK and Northern Ireland, Norway, Germany, Canada, Jamaica, St Lucia, USA) and serving with other professionals, I’ve always followed the seasoned professional soldier’s rule of ‘keep moving and never lose your sense of humour’.

So let’s laugh and have some fun with the devil of National Debt. First, though, some quick and, for our game, essential facts.

Bermuda’s net National Debt is now about $1,416,000,000. That’s $1.4 billion and it’s the balance after subtracting the $120 million or so in the Sinking Fund from the gross National Debt of $1,536,000,000.

According to “usually reliable sources” (that is, the Ministry of Finance and the Seventh Minister for Finance), in this Financial Year 2012/13, the Government reports that it will spend $115,750,000 to service Bermuda’s National Debt. That $115.75 million Debt Service Cost [DSC] consists of $85 million in Interest and $30.75 million paid into the Sinking Fund.

Play the game

That boring stuff out of the way, let’s get on with the game.

Take the DSC of $115,750,000.  Divide that by 365 (365 days in a year). That gives us the daily cost of the DSC and works out to $317,123 a day.

Now divide $317,123 by 24 (24 hours in a day). That provides the hourly cost and works out to $13,213 an hour.

Finally, divide $13,213 by 60 (60 minutes in an hour). That shows the minute-by-minute cost of the DSC. You’ll find that works out to $220 every minute, in every hour, in every day, for 365 days in a year. Even while you sleep.

Now get a group of people together, or just challenge one other person. For this game, you should put up a prize. So bet a Heineken or a Dark ’n’ Stormy. Please, no spliffs!

The challenge? In order to win, the person MUST count to 220 in 60 seconds or less. The count must be out loud, clearly audible, and progress consecutively from the spoken number one (1) right through to the spoken number two hundred and twenty (220). No skipping numbers. No garbling words. Each number heard clearly to the satisfaction of the person listening, betting the ‘cold one’, and setting the challenge.

If, legitimately and according to the rules, the person gets to 220, they win.

That’s the big boys (or gals) game.

The kiddie version follows the same rules, but only counts annual interest costs.

The arithmetic for the kiddie version goes like this: $85,000,000 (Interest) divided by 365 days = $232,876 interest a day. $232,876 divided by 24 = $9,703 interest an hour.  $9,703 an hour divided by 60 = $162 interest every minute.

Set the same challenge but bet a KoolAid instead of a Heinekens. In 60 seconds or less, out loud and no skipping or missing, count consecutively from one (1) right through to 162.

The adult DSC game should be a great challenge game at your favourite bar.  Try it and may the winner win fairly.

By the way, if there is winner, please tell me, because that person will likely qualify for the Guinness Book of Records.

Play the 220 Game. Have fun. Laugh at the devil and keep moving!

Footnote: While the Honourable Eugene Cox was Minister for Finance, annual DSC fell from $15,100,000 to $11,400,000 a year, dropping from $29 a minute to $22 a minute. No challenge in counting to 29! Or 22!