November 20, 2012

San Bernardino's Fall

It's all sort of Decline and Fall-ish, catnip for doom & gloomers, these tales of city bankruptcies. You always wonder how they allowed it to happen, how they didn't see the barbarians coming and prepare if only out of naked self-interest.

The money quote, literally and figuratively, appears to be:
The chronic mismanagement in San Bernardino, though, is a common feature of local government in California and around the United States. Much power over municipal finance lies in the hands of those with the most at stake — city employees, elected officials and others who depend directly on government for their livelihood. And California is moving to put even more responsibility and funds, not less, in their hands.
Which seems (and that quote is from a liberal news source) to bolster Romney's argument that if you hook enough people/institutions/local governments on benefits then they'll bleed you dry. (I used to think that employees of the school district should recuse themselves from voting for levies, ha.)

The famous quote goes, "A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury.”

The attribution of which turns out to be hotly debated. I'd thought it was from the 18th or 19th century, which suggests that people are being extremely dilatory in discovering the unearth-shattering fact that they can vote themselves largesse. But according to Wiki, it was first said by someone in 1951, an Oklahoman named Elmer. Perhaps he's a prophet.

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Tangentially-related, in an item in the liberal New Yorker on the rise and fall of Twinkies, we read that unions were looked on favorably when there were a lot of union members but that now they aren't since they get perks few people get these days. Which might also be read as saying that as more people get dependent on government, people dependent on government will be looked on even more favorably:
"The real issue here is that people’s image of unions...seems to depend quite a bit, in the U.S., on how common unions are in the workforce. When organized labor represented more than a third of American workers, it was easy for unions to send the message that in agitating for their own interests."
And perhaps similarly now if perhaps a third of Americans are dependent on government, it's easier to sell the message that Democrats are agitating for their own interests.

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