I have never been a pessimist but I always recognized the advantages of pessimism. If things turn out as bad as you expected, you at least get the satisfaction of being proved right. If not, you enjoy being pleasantly surprised. Conservatives tend to be pessimists. Unfortunately for us all, they are now enjoying the first and not the second brand of satisfaction.
This was confirmed this weekend by two newspapers that have been staunchly liberal in the past. The Badger 14 receive a recall from the Chicago Tribune.
With their showy boycott, though, the Democrats are merely doing what countless lawmakers of all political persuasions, at all levels of government, have done less explicitly for decades: They have run away from the mathematical certainty that this much revenue can pay for only that much spending.
The consequences of their boycott will ratchet up early next week. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that a refinancing of state debt must be accomplished by then to free up $165 million. If the Legislature fails to approve that, it will have to come up with more budget cuts.
The Wisconsinites should go home. So should the Indiana lawmakers who abandoned their Legislature in copycat fashion. They need to show they can be responsible stewards of the public purse.
Well, that's the unfortunate truth. This much spending can't be covered by that much revenue. Sorry. "It stinks," as Governor Christie said, but that's reality.
The Los Angeles Times also sees notices that the ship is listing.
The housing bubble and subsequent Wall Street collapse wreaked havoc on the nation's retirement savings, as many pension funds and 401(k) plans suffered losses of 30% or more. State and local governments are now facing huge unfunded pension liabilities, prompting policymakers to scramble for ways to close the gap without slashing payrolls and services. But a new report from the Little Hoover Commission in Sacramento makes a more troubling point: Many state and local government employees have been promised pensions that the public couldn't have afforded even had there been no crash.
More unfortunate truth. Across the nation state governments have made promises to public employees that they couldn't keep and that they had every reason to know that they couldn't keep. One might add that the same is true of our flagship social programs like Social Security and Medicare. In the U.S. at every level, as in Europe, big government bought constituencies by ignoring the "mathematical certainty that this much revenue can pay for only that much spending."
My cherished interlocutors, A.I., Donald, and Dave can ignore this when I say. They can ignore it when Chris Christie says it. Can they keep ignoring it when the Chicago Tribune and the L.A. Times says it? Maybe.
Reality doesn't care. Worrying about collective bargaining for the teacher's union in Wisconsin is like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. The Wisconsin Democrats who fled the state are trying to flee the facts. We may be looking at ten or twenty years of bad news. It may be the kind of bad news that no economic recovery can remedy. Maybe, instead of calling Governor Walker a fascist, we might out to open our eyes.