Friday, February 20, 2009

Time For A US-Style Debt Ticker

Eye-watering national debt has been laid bare with headlines screaming the cost. What's needed is a US-style debt ticker in the capital to drive home the point and force deluded ministers to face up to reality. 

Statisticians at the ONS are continuing to square up to Downing Street spinners with yesterday's stark warning that national debt is set to rise to around  £2 trillion, insisting taxpayer-funded bank liabilities are added in. That's around £33,0000 for every man woman and child. 

But that's still a drop in the ocean as the smoke and mirrors of Brown's accounting craftily ignores the massive PFI debt which has been building up over the years. 

Over at the Spectator, Peter Hoskin reckons a copy of the Mail front page showing a mind boggling number of noughts should be stuck up on the wall of every MPs office at Westminster.

The Orange Party has a neater solution - just copy the US example and instal a bloody big debt ticker overlooking parliament. 

There are national billboard-sized debt clocks in several cities around the US, showing the amount of money owed by the government, the most famous close to New York's Times Square. That constantly updates to show the current US public debt and each American family's share of it. 

The Times Square debt ticker was stopped for a few years after Bill Clinton got the debt down but it's been ticking along quite merrily apart from a few hiccups since 1989. When the debt surpassed $10 trillion, the clock's dollar sign had to be replaced by the extra digit. 

At tad too radical, a tad too party political? Well that hasn't stopped the privately-owned US clocks where there's open warfare between Republicans and Democrats. 

Talking down the economy and bad for tourism? The biggest US clock is near Times Square. You can't get more touristy than that. Besides it would be nice for the public to be reminded of the truth every now and again.

Planning permission? With Boris at City Hall that shouldn't be a problem. 

Watching the numbers race along at brake-neck speed is breathtaking. Some websites already include a cute little widget showing our debt to Brown (side bar opposite). 

But at the end of the day it's not the debt that's the problem. The killer for the economy is the ratio of debt to GNP - how rich we are - and that's where it really gets scary. 

Prudence Brown's false boom years, when even with the spin national debt stood at around 46 per cent of gross national product (GNP), now belongs in the joke shop.

Debt of at least 147 percent or up to 200 per cent is here today and far worse than countries such Italy, despite what Brown and Darling try to spin.

For this hapless duo, the only solution is unprecedented borrowing and a spending spree made easy by printing money. The debt ticker will blow a fuse trying to keep up. 

The country's finances are now out of control, yet still Brown and his useless chancellor claim borrowing is under control and the economy is built on ‘sound fundamentals’.

Both live in their own little deluded world. Both need a kick up the backside - a national debt ticker may be the only way to knock some sense into them. 

Picture: US debt ticker, off Times Square, New York

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