The Debt Clock

A short time ago, as I went to TUM at Garching by underground train, I witnessed something that perplexed me. All the other passengers sitting on the four seats of my compartment had an i-Phone or some similar device and they all typed on it like crazy. The person sitting next to me played a game. He had to bomb towers with a plane. Yet the plane never quite managed it and in the end always burst into flames on some tower remains.

SchuldenuhrI, too, have a new toy. It is the debt clock. It costs nothing and is a lot of fun. The 13-digit number grows with tremendous speed and keeps giving me funny new numbers as output all the time. It is really excellent entertainment.

I know quite well that this number has merely metaphorical meaning. But I am also aware of the real background and that the number is very real, indeed.
On the debt clock, you will also find a 5-digit number. It says how much debt per person we have. Yours truly as well as all other Germans, including toddlers and very old people.

This number also grows all the time. To be sure, it does not grow quite at the same speed as the 13-digit number. But still, it grows.

Here is what I noticed:
On January, 24th, 2011, at 6 p.m., the number was 23,174 €.
On January, 27th, at 11 p.m., the number had already climbed to 23,188 €.
On January, 28th, (we are always talking 2011), at 10 p.m., it was already 23,192 €.

So we have a difference of 18 € in 100 hours. That is four days. In other words: four Euros each day. I am deeply moved by this, because it means that my personal civil debt grows by almost 30 € each week and 120 € each month. Basically, this is something I cannot afford. What would happen if I behaved in the same way in my private life?

I would really very much like to pay back my debt in order not to have the affair go on and on. But I know many people who do not have the money to do so. It also saddens me that the debt is before taxes. I have to earn almost twice the sum in order to pay it back after taxes and social security fees. And almost 45,000 Euros is certainly not a minor affair for me.

(Translated by EG)

On the “summit” at Davos (at the end of January, 2011), our Federal Chancellor called Germany a good example for how to limit debt and promote growth at the same time. On hearing this, I have to rub my eyes, sorry, I mean my ears. Our debt clock shows that, apparently, the Federal debt reduction program does not really seem to be such a huge success. And our growth is not a reason to rejoice, either. We are not responsible for the Chinese and others all of a sudden wanting all those luxurious limousines and sports cars with many cylinders.  Basically, nobody really needs them!

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