Opinion Brief

If the national debt were a game of Tetris...

Animators turn the so-called "debt puzzle" into a video game — with some startling results

The video: While lawmakers prepare to battle over whether to extend America's debt ceiling or risk government shutdown, the website "Information is Beautiful" has created a (relatively) lighthearted way to visualize the country's financial obligations. In the website's Tetris-like video, each falling block represents a different U.S. expenditure. As the blocks fall into place, it becomes clear how the annual interest on government debt (a $450-billion medium-sized block) compares to the defense budget (a huge, square block), African aid (a tiny dot), and the population's collective credit card debt (a $930-billion behemoth).The reaction: At least this is a "cheerful, colorful way" to convey terrible economic news, says David McCandless at The Guardian, referring to a U.K. version of the game. As for the American version (below), "Debtris" may actually help calm fears, says Lila Shapiro at The Huffington Post. "In relation to the cost of the credit crisis [and] the global cost of obesity related illness... our current debt problems don't seem too severe." Watch "Debtris" in action: 

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