The national debt has grown so exponentially that the Durst Organization, which maintains the National Debt Clock in Times Square, will revamp its ticker to accommodate 14 digits, or more than $10 trillion, according to CNN.
"$10 trillion is a number that would just be beyond my father’s imagination back in 1980," said Douglas Durst, CEO of the Durst Organization and "keeper of the clock," whose father Seymour in 1989 created the digital debt-tracker, basing its numbers on U.S. Treasury data.
In 2000, when politicians began driving down the national debt, Mr. Durst temporarily turned off the clock, saying that the rapidly dropping numbers were causing confusion amongst passers-by. But Mr. Durst was prescient, telling CNN at the time that he doubted the clock would be turned off for long.
"We’ll have it ready in case things start turning around –which I’m sure they will," Mr. Durst told CNN at the time. "The politicians will do what they have always done and start spending more than we can afford."
Which brings us to today, October 2008.
"We’re in a crunch to change the debt clock as fast as we can," said Helena Durst, Seymour’s granddaughter, who added that the family will also make the debt clock "flashier."
As it is now, the clock is a rather dour-looking contraption, mounted on the facade of 1133 Sixth Avenue, with two rows of red digits juxtaposed on a background of greenbacks, the rows labeled, "Our National Debt" and "Your Family Share."
"It really started in the ’80s with the Reagan administration and as the first George Bush called it ‘voodoo economics,’ [which] allowed us to borrow against the future wealth of the country," Mr. Durst told CNN. "It absolutely is a sign of where this country has been going for the last five or six years, living off of ever increasing debt."
According to the New York Post, until the sign can be revamped, "the digital dollar sign now on the clock will be switched to a number one–the ‘1’ in $10 trillion."