1. Go to Google.com.
2. Type in “the answer to life the universe and everything”.
3. Click search.
4. Observe the answer that Google Calculator gives you.
The New York Times website has a nifty little gadget that lets you balance the budget… well, theoretically anyway. It’s set up with check-boxes that you select, and as you select options (either cuts to spending, or tax hikes) two diagrams at the top show the headway you’ve made in closing the budget gap.
The U.S. House Republican whip has a project called YouCut which operates on the same principle of you-solve-the-problem. It has more options, I hear, but is designed to work on a weekly, case-by-case basis. The difference with this one is that it actually makes a difference: it’s weekly because the winning cut is put to an up-or-down vote in the House of Representatives.
These things are fun. The one on the NYT website and came up with this: 20% saved by raising taxes, 80% saved by cutting spending.