Guest Post: This Can't End Well!

375
109
Sat, Nov 12, 2011 - 1:07pm

In this first of a series, I have a guest post for you. Written by a friend of mine, it touches upon several of the issues we often cover here. Feel free to provide "feedback" in the comments section.

This Can’t End Well!

I am just an average Midwestern guy with a family, nice home and a solid job. I suppose in most respects many people would say I have achieved the great American Dream! I am at a point in my life where I should be able to begin to relax a little and enjoy more of the fruits of my labor! Though I have had success both in my professional and personal life I see things going on around me and I worry…sometimes a little too much!

This past weekend while enjoying some college football, a cold beer (or two) and some good conversation with a buddy of mine I found the occasion I found myself uttering the phrase “this can’t end well”. I was telling my buddy about something I had read earlier in the week about a city in Michigan that could no longer afford to pay their electric bill so they were turning off, and in some cases, removing street lights. Now I’m guessing the average person might have seen that and not thought much more about it other than “glad that’s not happening in my city!” And while it may not be happening in your city or neighborhoods today there is chance that it will happen in many more and soon. I am sure you have seen in the headlines the problems that states/cities/municipalities are having in balancing their budgets. One of the biggest cost drivers that they have to deal with are the unsustainable levels of pension and healthcare benefits that have been promised to public employees. Now before you go and feel sorry for the governments, they got themselves in this mess (with a lot of help from unions) because it is always easier to promise things to people that won’t come due while you are in office.

When personnel costs become too excessive in the private sector, businesses will reduce staff and the level of benefits they provide or they won’t be around long to provide them. This doesn’t seem to happen often in the public employee world. There have been a few state and local governments that have tried and usually it results in public protests, harassments and threats against the individuals who suggest that some fiscal sanity is a reasonable path forward. As we’ve seen for the past several months in Greece, the idea that those living off the public largess would have to make some sacrifice results in mobs and riots and violence. Surely that kind of thing can’t happen here….right? While it didn’t quite reach the true riot and violence level there was certainly a fair amount of “protests” in Wisconsin when the Governor was trying to limit the ability of public workers to put such a strain on the government that it had to cut services or perhaps even go bankrupt. Heck, just watch the “Occupy (fill in blank)” crowd and they don’t even know why they are protesting! What if government actually cut their subsidies…

The fact that a city would cut off a service as basic as street lights got me to thinking about what could be next. If reducing the light bill doesn’t fix the cash flow problems what is next. Do they cut back on road maintenance? Water treatment? Police? Fire protection? Do you ever wonder why when money is tight the first things that get mentioned to cut are the things that governments exist to provide in the first place! As I stated before I consider myself the an average guy who does the right things and meets his obligations but I got to wondering what if my city no longer could provide the basic service that they are paid by me (and my other law abiding , responsible neighbors) to do? So what would happen to a community/society where the producers (i.e taxpayers) no longer receive the basic benefits that their taxes are supposed to fund? How many of us knowingly continue to pay for a good or service that we no longer receive. So we stop paying, either in the form of civil disobedience or simply by moving to another community that we believe will provide the basics we are paying for. If that happens, it will only exasperate the local governments’ problems even more. Now we will have protest both from those that pay and those that live off the system……this can’t end well!

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  375 Comments

Eric Original
Nov 12, 2011 - 1:14pm

Started well!

The thread, at least, started well!

ferretflat
Nov 12, 2011 - 1:14pm

You gotta stack physical

You gotta stack physical everything!!

Brotha Bob
Nov 12, 2011 - 1:16pm

Just the beginning

This is just the beginning. Street light, cops, firemen, water, add to the list. Look at that town in R.I.. These stories will become more common place as we go forward. Sad to see this happen.

Big L
Nov 12, 2011 - 1:17pm

AMEN

Brother, Welcome to the worry club. :-)

L

backseatdriver
Nov 12, 2011 - 1:24pm

Hamster Wheel is spinning now

It is a human right (not a privilege) to choose to save. That has been taken from every single person who contributes the fruits of their labor to society. Fiat rotates around a zero sum game, it doesn't just up and disappear but is merely transferred to the global elitists. I dont give one rip about becoming wealthy. ZERO. I just want to be able to save for 25 to 30 years and not have everything stolen from me via the Vampire Squid Satanic Banking Cartel Elite Globalists. Sorry for the rant, it seemed apropo.

Nice big healthy portion of food for thought there TF.

BSD

Nov 12, 2011 - 1:31pm

Fiscal Conservatives...

Fiscal conservatives really need to work on their message. They are losing the PR battle. And the GOP is a rotten representative of fiscally conservative ideas. The GOP makes it come off like they don't care about workers or the middle class, which is why there is such a huge backlash against any spending cuts. They need an entirely different tactic.

Eric Original
Nov 12, 2011 - 1:34pm

Minor nitpick

Agreed, the breakdown in public services is going to be an ongoing ugly issue. But it's all more complicated than just blaming public employees.

Look, we all want the snow plowed off our streets. And we get pretty damned indignant, rightfully, when it doesn't get done to our satisfaction. In my part of the country it's an absolute must. How then do you make the leap where you say that the guy driving the plow, the mechanic who keeps the plow running, and the guy back at the county garage who directs all the plows are all "living off the public largess", and need to be cutback? Yet you'll still complain if your road is not plowed fast enough.

There's no one right answer here. It's all complicated. Complicated enough that simple, political dogma style answers can't really cut it.

C F
Nov 12, 2011 - 1:35pm

I would have to agree.  If

I would have to agree. If things got that bad, the masses would just stop paying their taxes and the whole country would implode.

backseatdriver
Nov 12, 2011 - 1:35pm

Politics are gone

There is no hope in politics. Both parties feed the same monster. It is like pissing into the wind. The system is smashed and completely fractured. Answers will have to come from elsewhere at this point. Where? I am not that pretentious to even think I have the solution. Like Brotha Bob said, it is truly, truly sad and pathetic.

BSD

Dexter Morgan
Nov 12, 2011 - 1:45pm

Good point

God forbid they lay off a few worthless non-producers to keep the lights on. The 3 richest counties in the US by median family income are in the Washington Metro Area per forbes.com. Check out Wikipedia under Washington Metro Area. The 3 counties are over $100k median family income with the entire 5.5 million population area at $72.8k. There is no recession in DC. Can't make this stuff up!

Don't forget, median is different from average, with half of families over and under median. Just go to craigslist under Washington, DC and check out the want ads from common labor. They are killing it! Of course rent and real estate are higher because the economy is rocking, but you can get $15 for an auto parts deliver job and one company is looking for multiple part and full-time employees. $12-20 per hour to pet sit. $15.75/hour for a receptionist plus medical and tuition benefits. Can't make this stuff up while Walmart is biggest employer in my state of Arizona.

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Key Economic Events Week of 10/14

10/15 8:30 ET Empire State Fed MI
10/16 8:30 ET Retail Sales
10/16 10:00 ET Business Inventories
10/17 8:30 ET Housing Starts and Bldg Perms
10/17 8:30 ET Philly Fed MI
10/17 9:15 ET Cap Ute and Ind Prod
10/18 10:00 ET LEIII
10/18 Speeches from Goons Kaplan, George and Chlamydia

Key Economic Events Week of 10/7

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10/9 2:00 ET September FOMC minutes
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Key Economic Events Week of 9/30

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10/1 10:00 ET Construction Spending
10/2 China Golden Week Begins
10/2 8:15 ET ADP jobs report
10/3 9:45 ET Markit Service PMI
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10/4 8:30 ET BLSBS
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Key Economic Events Week of 9/23

9/23 9:45 ET Markit flash PMIs
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Key Economic Events Week of 9/16

9/17 9:15 ET Cap Ute & Ind Prod
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9/18 2:00 ET Fedlines
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9/19 8:30 ET Philly Fed
9/19 10:00 ET Existing Home Sales

Key Economic Events Week of 9/9

9/10 10:00 ET Job openings
9/11 8:30 ET PPI
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9/13 8:30 ET Retail Sales
9/13 10:00 ET Consumer Sentiment
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Key Economic Events Week of 9/3

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9/3 10:00 ET Construction Spending
9/4 8:30 ET Foreign Trade Deficit
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8/27 10:00 ET Consumer Confidence
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8/30 8:30 ET Pers. Inc. and Cons. Spend.
8/30 8:30 ET Core Inflation
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Key Economic Events Week of 8/19

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8/22 9:45 ET Markit Manu and Svc PMIs
8/22 Jackson Holedown begins
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Key Economic Events Week of 8/12

8/13 8:30 ET Consumer Price Index
8/14 8:30 ET Retail Sales
8/14 8:30 ET Productivity & Labor Costs
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8/14 9:15 ET Ind Prod and Cap Ute
8/14 10:00 ET Business Inventories
8/15 8:30 ET Housing Starts & Bldg Permits

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