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post #1 of 9 (permalink) Old Mar 27th, 2006, 10:44 PM Thread Starter
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US debt clock running out of time, space

NEW YORK (AFP) - Tick, 20,000 dollars, tock, another 20,000 dollars.

So rapid is the rise of the US national debt, that the last four digits of a giant digital signboard counting the moving total near New York's Times Square move in seemingly random increments as they struggle to keep pace.

The national debt clock, as it is known, is a big clock. A spot-check last week showed a readout of 8.3 trillion -- or more precisely 8,310,200,545,702 -- dollars ... and counting.

But it's not big enough.

Sometime in the next two years, the total amount of US government borrowing is going to break through the 10-trillion-dollar mark and, lacking space for the extra digit such a figure would require, the clock is in danger of running itself into obsolescence.

The clock's owner, real estate developer Douglas Durst, knew such a problem could arise but hadn't counted on it so soon.


"We really expected it to be quite some time," Durst told AFP. "But now, with the pace of debt growth only increasing, we're looking at maybe two years and certainly before President (George W.) Bush leaves office in 2009."

The clock was the invention of Durst's father, Seymour Durst, who nursed a keen sense of fiscal responsibility and believed government profligacy to be a national curse.

The elder Durst, who died in 1995, originally thought of the idea in the early 1980s as the US budget deficit started to mount during the presidency of Ronald Reagan, but the technology was not immediately available to realise his vision.

The original 11 foot by 26 foot (3.3 meter by 8.9 meter) clock was eventually erected a block from Manhattan's Times Square in 1989 when the national debt stood at 2.7 trillion.

For the next decade it tracked, odometer style, the government's red ink with an extra feature which, by dividing the main figure by the number of families in the country, offered an estimate for how much each family owed as their share.

Toward the close of the millennium, with a booming economy fuelling annual budget surpluses, the clock began to slow and finally ran into its first mechanical problem.

"It wasn't designed to run backwards," Douglas Durst explained.

Believing that the signboard had served its purpose, the Dursts pulled the plug in 2000 with the debt total showing around 5.7 trillion dollars and the individual "family share" standing at close to 74,000 dollars.

The clock was covered with a red, white and blue curtain, but not dismantled.

"We'll have it ready in case things start turning around, which I'm sure they will," Durst said at the time.

He only had to wait two years as the Bush presidency coincided with an upsurge in borrowing. The curtain was raised in 2002 and the digital readout flickered back to life showing a national debt of 6.1 trillion dollars with the numerals whizzing round faster than ever.

In 2004, the old clock was torn down and replaced with a newer model which had optimistically been modified to run backwards should such a happy necessity arise.

Instead the debt continued to rise at such a rate that the once unthinkable total of 10 trillion dollars veered from alarmist fantasy into the realm of impending reality.



"When it became clear what was going to happen, our first thought was to free up the digital square occupied by the dollar sign so that we could cope with a 14th digit," Durst said.

The latest plan is for yet another replacement, involving a larger scale signboard.

"We're not happy at the impact we're making with this one," he said.

Durst insists that the clock is non-partisan in its effort to shame the federal government over what he sees as its willingness to gamble away the nation's future.

"We're a family business," Durst said. "We think generationally, and we don't want to see the next generation crippled by this burden," he said.

Last week, the "family share" readout on the clock stood some loose change short of 90,000 dollars.

LINK

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I guess bankrupting an oil company just wasn't good enough for Bush...he had bigger and better targets in mind

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post #2 of 9 (permalink) Old Mar 27th, 2006, 11:34 PM
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Bush -



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post #3 of 9 (permalink) Old Mar 27th, 2006, 11:45 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RunDown
NEW YORK (AFP) - Tick, 20,000 dollars, tock, another 20,000 dollars.

So rapid is the rise of the US national debt, that the last four digits of a giant digital signboard counting the moving total near New York's Times Square move in seemingly random increments as they struggle to keep pace.

The national debt clock, as it is known, is a big clock. A spot-check last week showed a readout of 8.3 trillion -- or more precisely 8,310,200,545,702 -- dollars ... and counting.

But it's not big enough.

Sometime in the next two years, the total amount of US government borrowing is going to break through the 10-trillion-dollar mark and, lacking space for the extra digit such a figure would require, the clock is in danger of running itself into obsolescence.

The clock's owner, real estate developer Douglas Durst, knew such a problem could arise but hadn't counted on it so soon.


"We really expected it to be quite some time," Durst told AFP. "But now, with the pace of debt growth only increasing, we're looking at maybe two years and certainly before President (George W.) Bush leaves office in 2009."

The clock was the invention of Durst's father, Seymour Durst, who nursed a keen sense of fiscal responsibility and believed government profligacy to be a national curse.

The elder Durst, who died in 1995, originally thought of the idea in the early 1980s as the US budget deficit started to mount during the presidency of Ronald Reagan, but the technology was not immediately available to realise his vision.

The original 11 foot by 26 foot (3.3 meter by 8.9 meter) clock was eventually erected a block from Manhattan's Times Square in 1989 when the national debt stood at 2.7 trillion.

For the next decade it tracked, odometer style, the government's red ink with an extra feature which, by dividing the main figure by the number of families in the country, offered an estimate for how much each family owed as their share.

Toward the close of the millennium, with a booming economy fuelling annual budget surpluses, the clock began to slow and finally ran into its first mechanical problem.

"It wasn't designed to run backwards," Douglas Durst explained.

Believing that the signboard had served its purpose, the Dursts pulled the plug in 2000 with the debt total showing around 5.7 trillion dollars and the individual "family share" standing at close to 74,000 dollars.

The clock was covered with a red, white and blue curtain, but not dismantled.

"We'll have it ready in case things start turning around, which I'm sure they will," Durst said at the time.

He only had to wait two years as the Bush presidency coincided with an upsurge in borrowing. The curtain was raised in 2002 and the digital readout flickered back to life showing a national debt of 6.1 trillion dollars with the numerals whizzing round faster than ever.

In 2004, the old clock was torn down and replaced with a newer model which had optimistically been modified to run backwards should such a happy necessity arise.

Instead the debt continued to rise at such a rate that the once unthinkable total of 10 trillion dollars veered from alarmist fantasy into the realm of impending reality.



"When it became clear what was going to happen, our first thought was to free up the digital square occupied by the dollar sign so that we could cope with a 14th digit," Durst said.

The latest plan is for yet another replacement, involving a larger scale signboard.

"We're not happy at the impact we're making with this one," he said.

Durst insists that the clock is non-partisan in its effort to shame the federal government over what he sees as its willingness to gamble away the nation's future.

"We're a family business," Durst said. "We think generationally, and we don't want to see the next generation crippled by this burden," he said.

Last week, the "family share" readout on the clock stood some loose change short of 90,000 dollars.

LINK

-------------------------------------------------------------------------



I guess bankrupting an oil company just wasn't good enough for Bush...he had bigger and better targets in mind
*sigh* Thanks a lot Bush and company.
And did I read this correctly?...that they'll have to add a 14th digit?

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post #4 of 9 (permalink) Old Mar 28th, 2006, 12:02 AM
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Although US national debt is enormous in absolute sense, it isn't actually that big when compared to gross domestic production. Roughly, it's about average amongst the industrialized nations. Japan has almost 3 times as much debt relative to GDP.

Here's a historical presentation of US national debt:
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedi...%25_of_gdp.jpg

As can be seen, after WW2 USA had almost 2 times as much debt relative to GDP compared to today.

On the other hand, back then USA was actually still manufacturing and exporting stuff...
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post #5 of 9 (permalink) Old Mar 28th, 2006, 12:51 AM Thread Starter
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Here's another chart that breaks down the Debt to GDP ratio by presidencies.

CHART


Quote:
Originally Posted by Timariot
On the other hand, back then USA was actually still manufacturing and exporting stuff...
And, the largest segment of our population starts retiring within the next 5 years, so the surplusses that still exist re: Social Security will eventually disappear.

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post #6 of 9 (permalink) Old Mar 28th, 2006, 01:34 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RunDown
Here's another chart that breaks down the Debt to GDP ratio by presidencies.

CHART




And, the largest segment of our population starts retiring within the next 5 years, so the surplusses that still exist re: Social Security will eventually disappear.
Hey, RunDown, were you aware that your chart clearly indicates that the Democratic Presidents are the only ones [historically] capable of managing the federal deficit?! With the exception of Eisenhower...who must have been a moderate Republican.
That's very telling.

Oh, I forgot to add...
With the outsourcing of job positions, and even whole companies, I wonder what effect this will have on the overall deficit?

Be peaceful, be courteous, obey the law, respect everyone; but if someone puts his hand on you, send him to the cemetery. - Malcolm X
A man who stands for nothing will fall for anything. - Malcolm X
Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall. - Confucius
The greatest scholars are not usually the wisest people. - Geoffrey Chaucer

Last edited by RVD; Mar 28th, 2006 at 01:42 AM.
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post #7 of 9 (permalink) Old Mar 28th, 2006, 01:35 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RunDown
Here's another chart that breaks down the Debt to GDP ratio by presidencies.

CHART




And, the largest segment of our population starts retiring within the next 5 years, so the surplusses that still exist re: Social Security will eventually disappear.
OMG this is impressive in a bad way. I can't believe what I see- the bleu-red ratio is too interesting.
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post #8 of 9 (permalink) Old Mar 28th, 2006, 04:08 AM Thread Starter
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[QUOTE=ReeVeeDynasty]Hey, RunDown, were you aware that your chart clearly indicates that the Democratic Presidents are the only ones [historically] capable of managing the federal deficit?! With the exception of Eisenhower...who must have been a moderate Republican.
That's very telling.
[QUOTE]


The "party of fiscal responsibility" hasn't been fiscally responsible for quite some time.


Quote:
Originally Posted by pla
OMG this is impressive in a bad way. I can't believe what I see- the bleu-red ratio is too interesting.
indeed

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post #9 of 9 (permalink) Old Mar 28th, 2006, 06:12 AM
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I can't believe "conservatives" so praise Reagan, when he was the most idiotic president we've ever had. Not only did he have senile dementia, but he put our country so far into debt we'll never get out. Now Dubya is continuing that.

I thought people elected Republicans FOR THE ECONOMY and because they keep SPENDING DOWN.

*cough*
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