Tuesday, October 12, 2010

How It All Begins

As I've posted earlier on CF, stuff costs money. That's true whether you're an individual, a family, a city, state, or country. Shit…just costs money. I mean, sure, you could posit some Randian valley, a utopia where everyone lives and contributes and trades in kind: my composition for your canned vegetables. But, really, most of us don't/can't live that way. We work, and for our work we're paid, and with our pay we buy shit.

So. When money runs out? You stop buying stuff. And when so little money comes in that you not only can't buy stuff, but can't meet your regular financial obligations? Well then, my friend, you are. In a world. Of shit. Such is the case with a local township here where I live. Turns out, they're broke. According to a news article this week, in September the township board had to decide which bills to pay and "which ones would have to wait" (translation: which ones to default on), and there won't be any money coming in until winter taxes are paid. The township supervisor ACTUALLY SAID "We knew this was coming…we just didn't expect it so soon."

And I believe this is how it all begins: with little warnings, and smaller entities going broke, until the whole shebang snowballs and pretty soon EVERYONE is broke, and then? We're ALL. In a world. Of shit. I mean, that's how creepy movies always start, right? Shaun of the Dead, The Day After, The Birds…there's always some little thing happening in the background that our main characters aren't really paying attention to…and then *BAM!* they're right in the thick of it. This is how our current house of cards is going to crumble: one village, one city, one township at a time, first just being reported in the local news, then the occasional national story, and eventually it'll be Chicago. Or New York. Or America, defaulting on its bills.

Or, we need to up our income. When you're a person, if you find yourself falling behind on bills, you increase your income, right? You find something. You eBay some shit, or you sell plasma, or you get handyman work doing drywall or painting or something. You teach lessons, mow some lawns, try to find a part-time job. But, you get it done. Or at least bust your ass tryin'. What does a township do? Well, in this case, the township in question is putting a 2-mill ballot proposal on the upcoming election. The news is very, very careful not to call this a tax increase. Nowhere in the article are those words used together. But…that's what it is. Just 'cause you don't call a thing "a thing," doesn't mean that it ain't. A sparrow is a sparrow, whether you call it a "songbird" or whatever else.

The article goes on to state that a board member warned of this insolvency back in 2005, stressing the "dire situation" during her "remaining time on the board" (translation: when she was voted out of office for spreading those nasty Rome-buring rumors), but the situation "just kept getting worse." Yes, folks, that's what happens when you ignore problems: they generally just keep getting worse. Oh, I suppose you could ignore a cold and it'll fix itself, but I've never seen a flat tire spontaneously fill with air. Cancer, once detected, doesn't go away on its own. And peeling paint never manages to miraculously reattach itself to the house. You need to TAKE CARE of these problems, before the solution is so wretched that it's nearly as bad as the apathy.

I think we're there. I think we've ignored financial problems in this country for so long, we're at that point where the solution is undigestible, and there's a certain inevitability with our apathy. Do nothing: maybe it'll go away. Cut spending: until all that's left are the un-cuttable obligations, and then pretty soon you can't meet them either. This is the end result of the empty promise of infinite tax cuts: pretty soon, you don't have enough money for even the things that MUST be paid for. We're there. At least in this local township, we're. There. You can blame some bad decisions, but announcing that blame is Monday-morning quarterbacking at its worst. Can't be fixed now; move on. Try not to make the same mistake again; but MOVE. ON.

I wonder…what will the end look like? I'm actually quite fascinated. Like watching a horrible car crash happen…in slow motion. The thing that could most easily have been prevented…playing out with a gruesome inevitability. Me? I'll fiddle.


Blogger Gknee said...

Wouldn't it be a wonderful place if city/state/federal budgets were handled like family budgets? Or heck...even companies? Why give people bonuses even if the company performed poorly. Really? we are rewarding you for bad results? That always amazes me.

3:34 PM  
Blogger Animal said...

Yup: just like families. You use the money that you have…and then, if you don't have enough, you find a way to get more. And it certainly is amazing that people who perform their jobs poorly are kept on…and on…and on…

4:17 PM  

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