The Clock Runneth Over 

You can see it out of the corner of your eye on 42nd Street and Sixth Avenue, whirring away as you try to enjoy a movie at Bryant Park, study at the Public Library, or stalk David Remnick at the Condé Nast building — whatever you might happen to be in the neighborhood for. It’s the National Debt Clock, and it’s currently ballooning towards infinity (or at least a massive tax increase) at the ludicrous speed of $19,444 per second.  Erected in 1989 by real estate developer Seymour Durst to dramatize the alarming budgetary excesses of the Reagan/Bush I era, the clock’s design evokes a Depression-era scoreboard of on-rushing financial doom. Measuring out at 11 by 26 feet, the scoreboard’s top number is a flashing, ever-soaring national debt estimate, underneath which lies an estimate of “Your Family’s Share” of the nation’s red ink — $56,000 at last estimate.  
To the shock of veteran Times Square commuters and awe of the financial press, the clock began to tick downward in mid 2000 at the glacial — but nevertheless encouraging — pace of $30 per second. The flush economy and a decade of fiscal prudence had halted the downward spiral, prompting Durst’s son Douglas to have the clock covered with a red, white and blue curtain: “We’ll have it ready in case things start turning around — which I’m sure they will,” Durst told CNN that year. “The politicians will do what they have always done and start spending more than we can afford.” That prediction certainly didn’t take long to become reality-based: The clock swung back on the uptick in July, 2002, prompting the Dursts to remove the shroud and reveal a clock in full whirring order.    
    Brian Diedrick
Yeah, I just made this up.  I’ll go down and check it later today!


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