Friday, August 31, 2007

The National Debt Clock is turned on

I was just picking up lunch on 44th Street & 6th Av, when I saw the Debt Clock turned on--it had been turned off after the federal surplus caused it to count down. But the debt is growing again, so I guess whoever owns it thought it would be good to turn it back on.

It currently shows our national debt is $8.9 trillion and my family's share is $96,000.

I remember seeing this as a teen and even twentysomething (when the numbers were lower), and thought this a bit dire. But it never occurred to me to expand my understanding of the asset or credit side of things until I aged a bit more. American household net worth is at an all-time high, $56 trillion (a partial summary: $70 tril in total assets, $14 tril in total liabilities, of which real estate is valued at $20 tril and mortgage debt $10 tril).

Does that mean that my family's share of national assets is $600,000? A more accurate picture of a family's share of national debt is the relative federal tax they've paid and are expected to pay. It's just as silly for a journalist or electronic billboard to hold my 2 kids responsible for half the mortgage debt that my wife and I took out to buy our apartment.

Like some of the nonsense we see around the celebrity obsession by the media and the people who prefer it, this is more of the same. For an enlightening look at U.S. national debt, check out Steve Conover.

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