Tuesday, October 13, 2009

US Debt Clock http://www.usdebtclock.org/

US Debt Clock http://www.usdebtclock.org/

National Debt Clock
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:
The National Debt Clock is a billboard-sized running total dot-matrix display which constantly updates to show the current United States public debt and each American family's share of it. It is currently installed on Sixth Avenue (Avenue of the Americas) in Manhattan, New York City.

The idea for the clock came from New York real estate developer Seymour Durst, who wanted to highlight the rising national debt. In 1989, he sponsored the installation of the first clock, which was erected on 42nd Street close to Times Square. At the time, the national debt remained under $3 trillion but was rising. The clock was temporarily switched off from 2000 to 2002 due to the debt actually falling during that period.

In 2004, the original clock was dismantled and replaced by the current clock at the new location one block away. In 2008, the U.S. national debt exceeded $10 trillion for the first time, leading to press reports that the clock had run out of digits. Plans for an upgrade adding to the existing digits have been announced for 2009.

The original clock outlived Seymour who died in 1995, with Seymour's son Douglas taking over responsibility for the clock through the Durst Organization. As of September 2009, Douglas Durst's cousin Jonathan "Jody" Durst, with whom he currently shares a co-presidency of the company, is in the process of taking over the day-to-day operations as president. In an interview with The New York Times, Jonathan Durst has said that maintenance of the clock is planned "for years to come."[1]


Invented and sponsored by New York real estate developer Seymour Durst, the National Debt Clock was installed in 1989.[2] After Seymour's death in 1995, his son Douglas Durst became president of the Durst Organization which owns and maintains the clock.[3][4][5]

According to Douglas Durst, his father had been toying with the basic idea of drawing attention to the growing national debt since at least 1980, when during the holiday season he sent cards that said "Happy New Year. Your share of the national debt is $35,000" to senators and congressmen.[6] In the early eighties, when Durst first developed the idea of a constantly updated clock, the technology required to implement the project was not yet available.[7]

Douglas Durst has been quoted as saying that the clock is a non-partisan effort; he has further explained the motivation behind the project in terms of intergenerational equity: "We're a family business. We think generationally, and we don't want to see the next generation crippled by this burden."[7]
[edit] First clock
Nuvola apps kview.png External images
Searchtool.svg The original clock


With the national debt at 2.7 trillion dollars, the original 11 by 26 feet (3.4 m × 7.9 m) clock was constructed in 1989 at a cost of $100,000.[3] It was erected at Sixth Avenue, a block from Times Square, located on the north side of 42nd Street, easily visible from Bryant Park. Built by the New York sign company Artkraft Strauss, the clock featured a dot-matrix display with the then-typical character resolution of 5x7. Similar to the second clock, the updating mechanism was such that the display was set to the estimated speed of debt growth and adjusted weekly according to the latest numbers published by the United States Treasury.[9][3][5] Up until the week before his death, Seymour Durst himself adjusted the tally via modem.[3] Since his passing, Artkraft Strauss has been keeping the figures current.[3]

In 2000, due to an improving debt situation, the clock started to run backwards.[4] With the original purpose of the clock being to highlight the rising debt and the reverse giving a mixed message, and with the display not being designed to properly run backwards,[7] the clock was unplugged and covered with a red, white and blue curtain in September 2000, with the national debt standing at roughly 5.7 trillion dollars.[5] The clock was not dismantled however, and in July 2002 the curtain was raised and the clock once again picked up tracking a rising debt, starting at 6.1 trillion dollars.[10]
[edit] Second clock

In 2004, the original clock was unmounted from its location at 42nd Street; the building has since made way for One Bryant Park. An updated model, which could run backwards, was installed one block away on a Durst building at 1133 Avenue of the Americas (Sixth Avenue).[11][7] It is mounted on the side wall of the Building which faces W 44th street. The new clock is outfitted with a dot-matrix display of higher resolution than its predecessor, the numbers thereby more closely emulating the customary seven-segment numeral patterns.

In the midst of extensive media attention devoted to the financial crisis of 2007–2008, some news reports again turned to the National Debt Clock as a symbol and metaphor, particularly highlighting the fact that the clock ran out of digits when the gross federal debt rose above $10 trillion on September 30, 2008.[12][13][14]

An overhaul or complete replacement adding two more digits to the clock's display is currently in the planning for 2009.[9][15][16]
[edit] Similar projects
German national debt clock at the Berlin headquarters of taxpayer watchdog group Bund der Steuerzahler

The National Debt Clock is the first of its kind; it has since inspired similar projects elsewhere in the United States, as well as in other countries such as Germany.[3][17] There also exist various debt tracking resources online.
[edit] See also

* Government debt
* United States public debt
* History of the U.S. public debt

* Maxed Out, a 2006 documentary in which the clock is featured[18]

[edit] References

1. ^ Marino, Vivian (September 11, 2009). "Square Feet | The 30-Minute Interview: Jonathan Durst

". The New York Times. www.nytimes.com/2009/09/13/realestate/commercial/13SqFt.html

. Retrieved September 15, 2009.
2. ^ Daniels, Lee A. (November 8, 1991). "Chronicle

". The New York Times. query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9D0CE5DD163CF93BA...

. Retrieved 2008-10-06.
3. ^ a b c d e f Toy, Vivian S. (May 28, 1995). "The Clockmaker Died, but Not the Debt

". The New York Times. query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=990CE1D61538F93BA...

. Retrieved 2008-10-06.
4. ^ a b "National Debt Clock stops, despite trillions of dollars of red ink

". CNN, AP, Reuters (hosted on Internet Archive's Wayback Machine). September 7, 2000. web.archive.org/web/20080129144855/edition.cnn.com/2000/U...

. Retrieved 2008-10-05.
5. ^ a b c Upham, Ben (May 14, 2000). "NEIGHBORHOOD REPORT: TIMES SQUARE; Debt Clock, Calculating Since '89, Is Retiring Before the Debt Does

". The New York Times. query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9905E7D8143BF937A...

. Retrieved 2008-10-05.
6. ^ Koh, Eun Lee (August 13, 2000). "FOLLOWING UP; Time's Hands Go Back On National Debt Clock

". query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9500E1DC133FF930A...

. Retrieved 2008-10-06.
7. ^ a b c d "US debt clock running out of time, space

". China Daily / AFP. 2006-03-30. www.chinadaily.com.cn/world/2006-03/30/content_556588.htm

. Retrieved 2008-10-05.
8. ^ NYC: National Debt Clock

, Flickr Image by user wallyg, taken 28 April 2003, uploaded 24 May 2006, accessed 15 October 2008
9. ^ a b Rubinstein, Dana (October 6, 2008). "Durst To Add Extra Trillion Dollar Digit to National Debt Clock

". observer.com. www.observer.com/2008/arts-culture/debt-clock

. Retrieved 2008-10-08.
10. ^ Stevenson, Robert W. (July 13, 2002). "White House Says It Expects Deficit to Hit $165 Billion

". The New York Times. query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9506E5D81E30F930A...

. Retrieved 2008-10-06.
11. ^ Haberman, Clyde (March 24, 2006). "We Will Bury You, in Debt

". The New York Times. select.nytimes.com/2006/03/24/nyregion/24nyc.html?scp=16&...

. Retrieved 2008-10-06.
12. ^ "National Debt Clock runs out of digits

". timesonline.co.uk. October 9, 2008. www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/us_and_americas/arti...

. Retrieved 2008-10-10.
13. ^ "The Debt to the Penny and Who Holds It — Daily History Search Application

". TreasuryDirect. September 30, 2008. www.treasurydirect.gov/NP/BPDLogin?application=np

. Retrieved September 15, 2009.
14. ^ "Debt clock can't keep up (CNN video)

". cnn.com. October 4, 2008. edition.cnn.com/video/#/video/us/2008/10/04/dnt.lemon.nat...

. Retrieved 2008-10-05.
15. ^ Boniello, Kathianne (October 5, 2008). "'1' Big Tick is due for Debt Clock

". nypost.com. www.nypost.com/seven/10052008/news/nationalnews/1_big_tic...

. Retrieved 2008-10-08.
16. ^ "U.S. debt too big for National Debt Clock (MSNBC video)

". Nightly News. msnbc.com. October 7, 2008. www.msnbc.msn.com/id/22425001/vp/27051006#27051006

. Retrieved 2008-10-08.
17. ^ "Debt Clock Moves Next Door to Government

". Deutsche Welle. June 18, 2004. www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,2144,1239561,00.html

. Retrieved 2008-10-05.
18. ^ "indieWIRE INTERVIEW: James Scurlock, director of "Maxed Out"

". indieWIRE. March 11, 2007. www.indiewire.com/people/2007/03/indiewire_inter_51.html

. Retrieved 2008-10-10.

[edit] External links
Search Wikimedia Commons Wikimedia Commons has media related to: US National Debt Clock

* treasurydirect.gov

— U.S. public debt on TreasuryDirect, a website maintained by the United States Treasury
* brillig.com

— U.S. public debt clock website
* perotcharts.com

— U.S. public debt clock and charts
* usdebtclock.org

— U.S. debt clock in real-time
* debtbombshell.com

— UK national debt clock
* steuerzahler.de

— German national debt clock on the website of taxpayer watchdog group Bund der Steuerzahler

Uploaded by shannonpatrick17 on 13 Oct 09, 6.38PM PDT.

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