Too big to measure

October 13, 2008

This is a day to mark on the calendar of despair:

A  watched clock never moves — unless it’s the National Debt Clock.

In fact, the digital counter has been moving so much that it recently ran out of digits to display the ballooning figure: $10,150,603,734,720, or roughly $10.2 trillion, as of Saturday afternoon.

The clock was put up by the late real estate mogul Seymour Durst in 1989 when the U.S. government’s debt was a mere $2.7 trillion, and was even turned off during the 1990s when the debt decreased.

It will be replaced in 2009 with a new clock, said Jordan Barowitz, a spokesman for the Durst Organization. The new clock will be able to track debt up to a quadrillion dollars, which is a ‘1’ followed by 15 zeros.

Why don’t that just make it a blank LED slate on which any number can be writen? Unless you don’t think we’ll ever hit a quadrillion in debt. If you like smaller numbers, each family’s share of the debt is only $86,023.

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