National Debt Clock runs out of digits
byOct 9th 2008 11:30AM
In 1980, Seymour Durst began sending holiday cards to senators and representatives reading "Happy New Year. Your share of the national debt is $35,000." A bit of an exaggeration at the time, but his point was well made. In 1989 Artkraft Strauss took this idea a step further and erected the National Debt Clock on the Avenue of the Americas in New York. At the time, the national debt was a mere $2.7 trillion dollars.
The clock was actually disabled for a couple of years starting in 2000, as the national debt was shrinking and the clock was unable to run backwards. Sadly, it was plugged back in July of 2002 as the debt once again began to climb. Now, reminiscent of the 2000 debacle created because programmers couldn't imagine the next millennium, the clock has required an upgrade. To add a digit.
Yes, we've now exceeded the $10 trillion mark in public debt. Over $33,333 for every man, woman and child in the country. The digits are flying by faster than those on the gas pump gauge.
But wait, there's more. According to a recent article in the Economist, when we add in the present-day value of foreseeable Social Security and Medicare shortfalls, our national debt is more like $70 trillion. Perhaps they should have added a couple of more digits, just in case.