NEW YORK — TEN years ago, Seymour Durst sent a postcard to every member of Congress with the greeting: ``Happy New Year, You Owe $150 - Your Family's Share of the National Debt.'' Today, he is still sending postcards and hopes to send a less subtle reminder to Capitol Hill: a national debt clock.
Mr. Durst, a real estate mogul, wants Washington to watch as the nation's debt rises at the rate of $8,000 per second. ``I asked the real estate people to find a place,'' says Durst, who owns and assembles large blocks of real estate in New York.
The clock currently resides on the side of a building owned by the Durst Organization on the corner of 42nd Street, one block east of Times Square. It is a 25-foot-wide olive green device that informs the public how much interest is accruing on the $2.8 trillion in national debt and what the average family's share of it is. On a recent Friday, it informed New Yorkers they owed $44,195 per family.
Durst says he got the idea for the clock from a quotation of George Washington's that said, ``People don't see things until they actually feel them.'' Apparently other people feel the same way as Durst. He says there is a group trying to erect a similar clock in San Francisco and an individual who wants to put one on the back of a truck which would visit small towns. ``There are a number of organizations working on this,'' says Durst.
If Durst does move the clock to Washington, he has no illusions about the reaction in Congress. ``I know a couple of Congressmen and they don't like me very much,'' he says.