New York City’s Debt Clock

This was posted on the Wall Street Journal’s email Opinion Journal – Best of the Web Today. I thank Todd Ryan for adding it to the collection.

The “debt clock” is back. The late New York developer Seymour Durst erected the clock — actually a billboard — in midtown Manhattan in 1989 to track the total level of federal debt as well as “your family’s share.” It went dark in 2000, as the debt was decreasing, but the recent deficits have inspired Durst’s son Douglas to restart it.

Back in the early 1990s, we used to walk past the debt clock every day on our way to work. The first time we saw the it, we got a little worried. As we walked past it every day, and saw both the total and our family’s share gradually increasing, we thought more and more about the national debt and what a terrible problem it was. It got to the point where we’d get anxious before we even got to Sixth Avenue, where the clock was. When we actually saw the debt clock, our heart started racing and we started breathing heavily. We realized we were having a full-blown panic attack every day when we saw the debt clock.

Finally we went to see a psychiatrist and explained our problem: We were obsessed with the fact that our government spends more money than it takes in. He diagnosed us as suffering from — you guessed it — deficit attention disorder.

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