Consider This! Archives

What the Detroit Bankruptcy Has To Say To Us

[This is the script from the latest episode of my podcast, "Consider This!"]

Detroit, Michigan, formerly the auto-making capital of the US, if not the world, filed for chapter 9 bankruptcy protection on July 18th, becoming the current capital of big cities going under in the US. What brought Detroit under water is not really debatable; declining income and spending beyond its means. What is being debated are the causes of the two.

On the spending side, I think it’s no coincidence that the city has had essentially one party rule for the past 51 years. No surprise that the party in question is the Democratic Party. Detroit’s current budget deficit is believed to be more than $380 million, and its long-term debt could be as much as $20 billion. Rather than cutting spending, Detroit ignored the common sense lesson of living within your means, embrace the Paul Krugman idea that austerity kills, and died anyway, spending like there was no tomorrow. Well, there is a tomorrow, and it’s here.

When tax and spend had to be curtailed, because of a shrinking tax base, then borrow and spend kicked in. I suppose someone like Krugman would say they didn’t borrow enough. When that wasn’t enough, President Obama said that Detroit wouldn’t go bankrupt on his watch, and he tossed boatloads of money at the union-controlled, Democrat-voting auto industry, and pronounced it, merely on the reasoning that he had written a check, that Detroit was coming back. Yeah, no so much.

Now, even the Obama administration won’t touch them. They’ve stood up for their big spending principles, in DC and in Detroit, and reality has hit them upside the head with the mother of all clue-bats, as in “get a clue”. It doesn’t matter what your intentions are. Consistently spending more – far more – than you have will one day come home to roost. And everyone – both those from whom the money was taken, and to whom the money was given – will suffer. And it will affect the poor disproportionately because the rich have the means to escape.

And they did escape, which brings us to the income side of the equation. The riots of 1967 chased citizens and businesses alike out of the city, which only accelerated and existing trend, such that in the past 60 years, it lost 60% of its residents. But the riots weren’t the only reason. With corruption, over-promising and the requisite overspending, those that could read the handwriting on the wall did what they had to do. If you can’t change the government, change your location, and they did.

And if you’re inclined to lay the blame at the feet of greedy corporations that outsource jobs, Walter Russell Mead has some information that tends to suggest a group as, or more, culpable. The city’s $11 billion in unsecured debt includes $6 billion in health and other retirement benefits and $3 billion in retiree pensions for its 20,000 city pensioners. That’s “billion”, with a “B”. But now, these folks, whose union representatives negotiated this package, and now very likely going to get less than 10 percent of that. Like I said, everyone gets hurt, ultimately, with these kinds of policies. Those who got their benefits and hit the road are not unlike the folks who start a pyramid scheme. They cash in early and often, while those who get in later either get very little return, or lose out. The pyramid in Detroit has played itself out.

Walter Russell Mead, again, has a relevant warning for those in other cities who still think such policies are a good idea, because of their good intentions.

Progressive politicians, wonks, and activists can only blame big corporations and other liberal bogeymen for so long. The truth is that corrupt machine politics in a one-party system devoted to the blue social model wrecked an entire city and thousands of lives beyond repair. The sooner blues come to terms with this reality, the greater chance other cities will have of avoiding Detroit’s fate.

I would add that the sooner DC comes to terms with this, the better, for the same reason. And, working our way back in the political process, the sooner the voters of this nation come to terms with this, the better off we will all be. It may not sound, to the untrained ear, to be very caring, or fair, or socially just. But Detroit has a 47% illiteracy rate. 60% of its children are living in poverty. Its crime rate is 5 times the national average. The murder rate is 11 times higher than New York City. Is it caring, or fair, or socially just, to pursue policies that led to that?

If you continue to vote for those policies, then what visited Detroit will be visiting you soon enough. It may already be in the process of happening. Detroit just got there first. Who’s next?

    The "Consider This!" Podcast, Episode 28

    Maybe this is why I’ve not been blogging much. Well, it’s certainly a contributing factor.

    The latest episode covers the fight of North Carolina pro-choicers against a license plate that advocates a choice, and a rundown of how well the Washington, DC gun ban reduced homicides (hint: it didn’t).

    Click here for the show notes, links to articles mentioned, and ways to get your voice heard on the podcast. You can also listen to the show right on the page, or subscribe in iTunes, Stitcher or the Blubrry network.

      Back with more topics than I’ve ever squeezed into 10 minutes or less, “Consider This!” is back with a new episode.

      A friend of mine posted a graphic of Sen. Bernie Sanders with a  quote from him extolling the results of Social Security, with the tag, “Social Security has done exactly what it was designed to do.” Well sure, in the short term, big government social programs always look good. Think of how Social Security looked in the first 5 or 10 years. People who had paid little or nothing into it got monthly checks from the government. Wonderful.

      John Hawkins at the blog Right Wing News polled conservative bloggers on who the GOP should choose at their 2016 nominee. The short answer? Marco Rubio was the clear winner. He was followed by Rand Paul, Scott Walker, Bobby Jindal and Paul Ryan. The two who topped the list of those they least wanted to see on the ticket were Jeb Bush and Chris Christie. Then John asked, want to see something scary?

      The government recently modified its determination of which states have the worst poverty rates. The new measure incorporates a controversial calculation of relative equality that demotes states that have wide gaps between wealthy people and people with less than one-third of state residents’ average income. This income gap is something that liberals have spoken out against, and believe they have an answer to. But with this new measure included, it’s interesting to see what state dropped to the rock bottom of the survey; California.

      A government report released Monday warned that a sudden increase in taxes would result in lower consumer spending next year, and some analysts wondered if the concerns about what could happen might crimp spending throughout the rest of the holiday season. Um, yeah. The Obama administration is just now figuring out what conservatives have been saying, well, pretty much for a generation. In other news, the sky is indeed blue, and math still works.

      Click here for show notes, feedback options, ways to subscribe to the podcast, or just listen to it on the web page itself.

        "Consider This!", Episode 10 Milestone

        A couple months ago I started a new project; a political and cultural opinion podcast where I say what I’m going to say in 10 minutes or less. It doesn’t require as much a time commitment from you to listen in, and I want to hear back and make it more of a conversation than a monologue.

        Today I hit a milestone; the 10th episode. There’s something of a psychological part of this as well. Folks who keep track of such things say that if you get (on average) past episode 7, that seems to be a tipping point. Podcasts that get past that generally continue on. So here I am at 10, and hopefully we’ll just roll along, with your input.

        My topics are usually varied, but this episode focuses on the Paul Ryan VP pick. Let me know what you think of that choice by either commenting on the show notes, on Twitter, Facebook, or Google+. You can even use that tried and true method; E-mail.

          "Consider This!" Podcast Episode 4

          In the latest episode of my new podcast project, I give my first look at what the Supreme Court’s decision on the Affordable Care Act (aka ObamaCare(tm)) means. If you think there are places where government should just butt out of, you are not going to like what this bill let’s the government do.

          A comment on a Facebook question posted by La Shawn Barber gives us a new perspective on how to deal with illegal immigrants.

          You know those machines where you take the next number to be waited on? The government has one. It’s costs $19 million. Every year. Really.

          And you know all those human interest stories that the media keep running to tell us that we really need ObamaCare? Do they compare to the 130,000 elderly patients in Britain that die every year so that costs can be kept down or beds can be freed up? Yup, 130,000. Every year. Really.

          Click here for show notes, and ways to listen to the podcast; through iTunes, another podcatcher, or right on the web page. It’s politics in 10 minutes or less (8 minutes and 40 seconds, this time).

            "Consider This!" Episode 2: A Cautionary Tale

            The main topic in today’s podcast is a column by Michael Fumento about why he broke from “the extreme Right”. His experience is a cautionary tale for any hyper-partisan, on either side of the aisle.

            I also look at New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg’s proposals for micromanaging residents’ food intake, and wonder, if this isn’t a slippery slope, then where would the end of the line be? If you can’t draw it, it doesn’t exist.

            Click here to play the (again, 10-minute) episode, and to find show notes, how to contact me, and how to subscribe to the podcast.

              10 Years of Blogging, Now What?

              Indeed, I’ve been blogging for a decade. Couldn’t believe it when I went to find out how long for this post. It’s been fun and interesting, though, even if most of my readers have been either friends or the occasional visitor whom Google sent my way.

              But there’s something else I’ve dipped my toe into a couple of times; podcasting. Audio programs that you can either subscribe to (usually with iTunes, but there are others programs for that) or just listen to them on their web page. In both cases, I didn’t have to deal with all the elements of the entire process (web site, getting the proper subscription feeds set up, writing and producing the show, etc.), I was just responsible for some portions and someone else dealt with the other details.

              But since the end of Shire Network News, I’ve really wanted to get back into it. So I’ve made the plunge and started this new experiment.

              Setting it up has taken some time, which is why I haven’t been posting much to the blog in the past couple of weeks, but I don’t intend to give that up. In fact, reading current events and coming up with blog posts has been the main source of material, such that I have 3 episodes written, and one that is now available.

              In iTunes. I’m actually listed in iTunes. How cool is that?

              And so begins "Consider This!", a political and cultural opinion podcast that I want to be more of a dialog than just a monologue. Click here to go to the website for the show, where you can play the episodes right on the web page, or subscribe to it via iTunes or your "podcatcher" of choice. You can also contact me in a number of ways; comments on a particular episode, e-mail, and Twitter. I’ve set this up so that this show could be one of a number of different shows in the "Consider This! Podcasting" network, but for now, it’s just the one.

              Let’s see what happens.