New Criticals

The Debt Clock


                     Debt is actually future time. [1]

                                        —Franco “Bifo” Berardi

Debt crises abound. The government is shutting down. We're running up our debt and running out of time. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau puts student loan debt at over $1.2 trillion. Debt per taxpayer is currently $148,172. Republicans are threatening to defund the Affordable Care Act. These liabilities are taking over our future. Franco “Bifo” Berardi writes of humanity being sacrificed at the altar of metaphysical debt. This is another way of saying that we’re accumulating debts that can’t be paid. At least not with money. So we’re paying in other ways. We’re paying with our time. We’re paying with our jobs. In Berardi’s terms, we’re sacrificing “[l]ife, intelligence, joy, breathing.” [2] Temporally speaking, debt is something accrued in the past, to be paid down over time. We usually lose sight of these future limitations and think of a loan as pure windfall: an influx of cash for nothing but the abstract possibility of repayment. Berardi asks us in our original consideration to think of debt as future time. When you get a loan, you aren't just getting cash. You are giving up your future.