Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Even Michael Kinsley Gets It

I guess I'm starting a series where erstwhile liberals are seeing the light on the key issues facing our nation, state and city. My earlier entry concerned local Democrat, and candidate for City Council district 6, Howard Wayne. Yesterday I called out issues such as the debt, excess spending and pensions as key issues facing the nation. Today, HotAir alerted me that Michael Kinsley, noted liberal commentator appears to be reading my blog, no way. But here are some quotes from The Atlantic by Kinsley:

The biggest peril Americans now face isn’t Islamo-fascism. It’s our own inability to live within our means. It would be nice to give our country the wisdom and self-discipline to stop running up the credit card. And we should try.
. . .
There are a dozen ways to look at the national debt and the annual government deficit, and they all lead to varying degrees of panic. What’s especially scary about our fiscal situation is that everybody knows the facts and concedes the implication, but nobody is doing anything about it (except for grinding out books and reports and long articles in magazines like
The Atlantic, complaining that everybody knows about it but nobody is doing anything about it).
. .
And the national debt is just a fraction of the problem. State and local governments, unlike the national government in Washington, cannot print money, and many states have constitutions that forbid them to run a deficit. Nevertheless, they will be losing, together, about $140 billion this year. They’ll make up the money by “disinvesting”: firing teachers, putting off maintenance on public buildings, shutting libraries. We’ve been delaying maintenance on our public infrastructure of highways and schools and, yes, airports since at least the 1980s, and the shabbiness is really starting to show. Delaying maintenance is like borrowing against the future. Debt is everywhere you look. Here’s a short inside piece in The New York Times Magazine about state and local unfunded pension obligations for retired employees. They add up to between $1 trillion and $3 trillion. Until that article, I had given no thought whatsoever to shortfalls in state employee pension funds. You? Now we can only say, “Add it to the pile.” Then there is all that consumer debt—those underwater mortgages, those credit cards. And you can pick almost any number you wish, for what Medicare and Social Security will cost above and beyond their alleged “trust funds.”
Sorry about the length of the quotes, but Kinsley is a better writer than I am, and the fact that he is on the left but acknowledges the severity of the crisis is telling.

1 comment:

  1. Michael Kinsley... tea partier. Gotta nice ring to it.