I might have an analysis of the the Iranian nuclear deal later, or I might now, depending on how my taxes are going…
National Journal has a piece up by moderate lefty John B. Judis on all the problems plaguing Chicago.
Perhaps more than any other major city in America, Chicago is facing a truly grave set of problems—problems that are essentially more extreme versions of the challenges confronting city governments across the country.
But there’s a vital piece of information omitted from that sentence: “problems that are essentially more extreme versions of the challenges confronting city governments across the country run by the Democratic Party.” Though Republican cities are not immune to such problems, make no mistake that the very worst examples are cities run by the Democratic Party, most for a very long time (Detroit hasn’t had a Republican Mayor since 1962, Chicago since 1931), and most are in states with solid (if not overwhelming) Democratic Party majorities.
The failure of America’s bankrupt cities is a microcosm of the failure of the Blue model of big government liberalism. And the reason I have spent so much time on covering California and Greece is that they are part of the same story: The failure of American liberalism is a microcosm of the bankruptcy of the welfare state, and the bankruptcy of the welfare state is a subset of the failure of socialism.
The quandaries begin with Chicago’s dramatic social divide. To an even greater extent than is the case in, say, New York or Philadelphia, Chicago has become two entirely separate cities. One is a bustling metropolis that includes the Loop, Michigan Avenue’s Magnificent Mile, and the Gold Coast, as well as the city’s well-to-do, working-class, and upwardly mobile immigrant neighborhoods. The other Chicago consists of impoverished neighborhoods on the far South and West Sides, primarily populated by African-Americans. These places have remained beyond the reach of the city’s recovery from the Great Recession.
As we have known since Charles Murray’s Losing Ground in 1984, welfare programs don’t lift the poor out of poverty, but keep them ensnared in it. Indeed, a cynic might observe that welfare programs are designed to create a voting clientele for the welfare state and the liberal party that runs it.
The problem, as Mark Steyn put it, is that “the 20th century Bismarckian welfare state has run out of people to stick it to. In America, the feckless insatiable boobs in Washington, Sacramento, Albany and elsewhere are screwing over our kids and grandkids. In Europe, they’ve reached the next stage in social democratic evolution: There are no kids or grandkids to screw over.”
As Steyn further noted:
A government big enough to give you everything you want isn’t big enough to get you to give any of it back. That’s the point Greece is at. Its socialist government has been forced into supporting a package of austerity measures. The Greek people’s response is: Nuts to that. Public sector workers have succeeded in redefining time itself: Every year, they receive 14 monthly payments. You do the math. And for about seven months’ work – for many of them the workday ends at 2:30 p.m. When they retire, they get 14 monthly pension payments. In other words: Economic reality is not my problem. I want my benefits. And, if it bankrupts the entire state a generation from now, who cares as long as they keep the checks coming until I croak?
The story of Detroit’s current bankruptcy is the story of Chicago’s coming bankruptcy, and the similar problems of California. All are dealing with bloated public sector pensions that are making their cities insolvent. All promised and spent money they didn’t have against their decedents, not realizing (or not caring) that the debt burden will ruin the worlds of those decedents before they could ever pay it off.
The theme with all is that deficit spending destroys, and the only cure is to force governments to pare back the welfare state and stop spending money they don’t have. As the example of Greece shows, there reaches a point in welfare state dependency at which actually curtailing welfare state spending, even at the point of financial ruin, is politically impossible. The looting of the public treasury cannot be stopped because that looting is the only thing that holds left-wing coalitions in power anymore.
One of the many reasons the Tea Party exists is to hold American politician’s collective feet to the fire to make sure the terminal phase of the welfare state Greece is now enjoying never gets that bad in America. (To this end, they’ve had the tiniest little glimmer of success.)
Chicago is Detroit is California is Greece is, eventually, America. It’s all part of the same story, and one any voting public ignores at its peril.
(Hat tip: Instapundit.)
After a huge outcry over a proposed ordinance to limit BBQ smoke in residential areas, the Austin City Council has decided to punt:
A proposed resolution that could have forced barbecue restaurants in the city of Austin to install smoke scrubbers on their smoke stacks will come before the full city council this summer. That’s what council members approved during Friday’s meeting, after hearing from restaurant owners and neighbors who say the smoke is ruining their quality of life.
The resolution now goes through a stakeholder process, meaning the city will hear from people who have a direct stake in the issue. Then it will go to the economic development and health and human services committees before coming before the full council again. That’s scheduled to happen after July 31.
So they could still kill the golden goose and fulfill Dwight’s longing to see an entire city council tarred, feathered, and run out of town on a rail. But the delay also gives them time to quietly kill the proposal after realizing how many orders of magnitude more BBQ-eating voters there are than people supporting the ordinance…
Time for another Texas vs. California roundup. The Texas House passed a budget, but I haven’t had a chance to look at it in any detail yet…
The California rule distorts what the salary/pension mix would otherwise be, given employer and employee preferences, and given the tax code as it is. Because underfunded pensions are a popular form of deficit spending, public employee compensation may already be too pension-heavy, and the rule makes it more so by freezing pensions in times of retrenchment. The incentive effects of the rule, given the political economy of government employment, may well exacerbate this tendency. And the possible theoretical reasons for preferring a pension-heavy mix don’t go very far in justifying this particular distortion.
This is one of those rare April Fools jokes that works as both a joke
In tandem with his plan to foster technological innovation at the Texas General Land Office, Commissioner George P. Bush today announced an agencywide ban on the use of the font Comic Sans in all agency documents and correspondence:
“As land commissioner, I am committed to making the GLO a technological leader in state government. While this unrefined font is appropriate for early childhood instruction in our Texas schools, the use of Comic Sans is not befitting when conducting business on key matters concerning the state of Texas. Comic Sans has no place at an agency positioning itself as a technological pioneer.”
And the tell a bit further down:
“Current agencywide substitute font recommendations are Helvetica, Times New Roman, or even Arial,” Elam said. “Any of the standard ones really. Except Papyrus. It’s terribad.”
After the grand jury failed to indict him, Wallace Hall fired back at Texas House Speaker Joe Straus:
“The campaign by Speaker (Joe) Straus, Representative (Dan) Flynn and Senator (Kel) Seliger to criminalize my service as a Regent constitutes abuse of office,” Hall said in a statement. “Their use of the levers of political power to cover up wrongdoing by legislators should now be investigated, and those exposed for their abuses should be driven from office.”
The piece also points out the numerous vested interests of people who have weighed in against Hall.
That should be the headline as yet another establishment attempt to punish UT regent Wallace Hall for the crime of actually doing his job fails. Or, if you prefer: “Wallace Hall: More Honest Than a Ham Sandwich.”
But chances are good that you’ve seen headlines like “Jury Criticizes Wallace Hall” or “Wallace Hall should step down,” based on four pages of “recommendations” from the Travis County jury. The lack of an indictment is important, the non-indictment condemnations are just dicta, statements of opinion that have no force of law. We do not let grand juries establish public policy for the same reasons we don’t have legislatures indict random citizens for crimes: it is not among their enumerated responsibilities.
Those trying to bury UT’s admissions scandal have thrown everything possible at him, but Hall has been proven right time and time again. After the latest grand jury shenanigans, Hall is still standing while UT President Bill Powers was forced to resign in disgrace.
Further attacks on Hall will only continue to prove that his critics are spiteful, petty defenders of corruption.
Austin has one of the nation’s best barbecue joints in Franklin Barbecue. So how does the city celebrate that fact? If you’re the People’s Republic of Austin, you see if you can kill the goose that lays the golden eggs through over-regulation!
A proposed city council resolution could threaten Austin’s continued status as an international destination for Texas barbecue. District 3 council member Sabino “Pio” Renteria is spearheading a code change to limit barbecue smoke in residential areas, as reported by KUT. Pitmaster Aaron Franklin tells Eater if such a code were to pass, it could force Franklin Barbecue and many other barbecue joints in Austin to go out of business.
The proposed code change would require any restaurant or food truck using “a wood or charcoal burning stove or grill” within one hundred and fifty feet of residential zoning to install an exhaust system known as smoke scrubbers. Franklin estimates the cost of such a system would run between $15,000 and $20,000, which he says is not an option for even his hyper-successful business. “Cost aside, the barbecue would not be the same—it would modify how the cooker smokes,” Franklin says. “If this resolution passes, we would be forced to close or move. It would destroy Austin barbecue.”
Yes, because so many normal people (as opposed to radical vegetarians) hate the smell of barbecue.
Franklin has threatened to move if the ordinance passes. Mr. Franklin should feel free to move up to Williamson County, where people appreciate barbecue and he won’t be hassled by The Man…
There’s a Joe R. Lansdale story called “The Pit” where two prisoners are forced to fight each other to death in a pit for sport. The story details suggest it takes place somewhere in the deep south. Who could have imagined that a real-life version of the story (thankfully minus the “to death” part) would take place in San Francisco?
San Francisco sheriff’s deputy Scott Neu is accused of leading a ring of corrupt jail guards who coerced prisoners into gladiatorial combat with threats of rape and violence.
Neu serves at County Jail No. 4 at 850 Bryant St despite having settled claims that he raped a woman prisoner and two transgendered prisoners while working at the jail. He sports a tattoo reading “850 Mob,” believed to describe the name used by the corrupt deputies to describe themselves. At least four other deputies are implicated in the program of sexualized torture.
Neu and his co-conspirators gambled on the outcome of fights. One fight pitted the smallest inmate in the jail against the largest, and the fighters say they were threatened with rape and beatings by the guards if they didn’t spar. Neu is also said to have coerced prisoners into training for the fights with threats of rape and violence. Neu has a reputation for sadistic practices overall, including making prisoners gamble to receive their food, clothes and comfort items. Even when prisoners won the games Neu forced on them with the red dice and the deck of cards he carried, he would sometimes take away their “winnings” and give them to other prisoners.
Well, just sounds like a lovely fellow all around, doesn’t he?
Of course, these are just accusations, and Mr. Neu has not yet been proven guilty in a court of law. Maybe his attorney will offer up evidence of his innocence.
The Deputies’ Union attorney Harry Stern claims the Public Defender is making a big deal out of nothing. He says that the prisoners were encouraged to “wrestle to settle disputes about who was stronger,” and were “encouraged” to work out. He dismissed the entire affair as “little more than horseplay.”
Holy crap! When a guy’s defense attorney starts out essentially admitting the basic charge against him but dismissing it as “horseplay,” you’ve got to think the guy is guilty as sin.
And he doesn’t even have the excuse of being in a “high stress, low pay” job since this is, after all, California. According to public records, Scott Neu pulled down a cool $150,912 in the 2012-2013 timeframe (and I’d bet more last year).
Evidently paying unionized public employees more than the market demands doesn’t lead to a higher quality of employee…