How do you blow through 20 trillion dollars?

One of the key points of Andy Andrews’ 2012 book “How Do You Kill 11 Million People?” is that citizens will believe the lies of their leaders as long as they are told lies they want to believe.

This explains why so many we elect to national office claim they want to balance the federal budget while, year after year, that never happens.

It could happen again.

President Donald Trump submitted a $4.4 trillion 2019 budget Monday that foresees a nearly $1 trillion deficit. We haven’t seen deficits that big since President Barack Obama’s first term.

The national debt now exceeds $20 trillion. That amount may seem ethereal to some Americans — akin to measuring cosmic distances. It’s too large to comprehend.

But it’s not intangible. Let’s consider it in relation to tangible assets.

Our federal government owns and manages some 640 million acres of land. Military bases and the like account for about 5 percent of that. The rest, more than 610 million acres, is managed by the Bureau of Land Management, 248.3 million acres; Forest Service, 192.9 million acres; Fish and Wildlife Service, 89.1 million acres; and National Park Service, 79.8 million acres.

Using figures from a report by the Institute for Energy Research, recoverable oil and natural gas below those acres would be worth about $77 trillion at current prices.

Conservationists concerned for the future of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante should be worried whether the shrinking of those national monuments could set a precedent for other federal lands.

Eventually, repaying the national debt — or just covering budget deficits — could cost us our country in a very real sense.

Note the subtitle to Andrews’ book published in a year synonymous with an apocalypse: “Why the Truth Matters More Than You Think.”

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