National Debt Clock, 6 Av NYC

Every time I’m headed to my girlfriend’s after work, I’m uptown-bound on 6th in NYC and the bus goes past the National Debt Clock. For several weeks that I noticed (perhaps several prior to that when I didn’t?), it was not moving. On Friday I noticed that for the first time in weeks it was once again ratcheting the numbers upward. I should clarify: during the period when it was not incrementing, it had electricity, numbers were glowing.

In somewhat faded non-electified plain old paint on the same sign is a notice to the effect that the national debt is growing at a rate of $10,000 per second. The active display, although now updating itself again, is not gaining anywhere near $10K every second.

a) Who operates this sign? What is their political agenda?

b) How accurate is their figure?

c) Should I assume someone just tripped over a cable in September and it took them awhile to notice that the numbers weren’t moving? Or was something going on economically / politically during this period that would have frozen the debt or made its calculation problematic? I assume not since…

e) I assume the debt would always be increasing until/unless it is completely paid off, such being the nature of interest on any debt. On the other hand, I’ve never heard of any interest being compounded on a per-second basis. So am I correct in assuming the display of up-to-the-second national debt has no real-world meaning anyhow, but is instead a projection based on annual changes, given annual budgets and interest and interest payments, split up by the number of seconds per year?

Designated Optional Signature at Bottom of Post

I figured, what with the national debt not being as huge a problem (or at least isn’t as huge a hot-button issue) that they changed what the sign meant since I’ve been gone.

Like to the number of times Der Furor Rudy trampled on the rights of New Yorkers, or soemthing… But the number might be too low for that…

Yer pal,

No, I think that that the debt would indeed decrease if we would ever be able to get even part of it paid off. Then it would start going up again, but there would be at least occasional decreases, if we would ever use a budget surplus to pay off some of that debt.

No per-second compounding, you’re right. But there’s plenty of daily compounding. Plus, there are items where the compounding is even less frequent, but some come due today, and other will come due tomorrow. So if the clock would only change once a day, if could be very accurate, and flashing once a second is not really wrong.