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Map - 31 states have addressed or have projected shortfalls for next year
31 States Project Revenue Shortfalls for FY 2012
(States Continue to Feel Recession's Impact,
Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, June 27, 2012)

In 2001, a gentleman by the name of Grover Norquist (the titular head of Americans for Tax Reform) once (in)famously quipped that his quarter-century goal, which he described as "reasonable," was to "get government down to the size where [conservatives could] drown it in the bathtub." In furtherance of that (ig)noble goal, ATF sponsors and, to date, nearly 500 legislators holding federal office in the United States, have signed the "Taxpayer Protection Pledge." This pledge commits them to refuse under all circumstances to vote for any tax increase of any kind unless it is offset by an equal tax cut. Ever.

Since Norquist let us all in on his destitute government wet dream in 2001, folks have at least tried to be vigilant in documenting the shrinking boundaries of the federal government’s fisc. Unfortunately, by focusing on the feds, we missed the Norquist ball soaring over our heads into the net, scoring (if something dramatic does not change pretty damned soon) the game-winning goal of drowning "the government"—by destroying the ability of state and local governments to provide for their citizenry.
Few, however, have noticed.

(Continue reading below the fold)

Three years ago, when the first celebratory news about the "end of the recession" was being touted by pundit and blogger alike, this quiet little news from a quiet little Alabama county (actually, the state's largest county) called Jefferson might have caught your eye:

It is hardly unusual these days for a government building to forgo a fresh paint job or regular lawn care to cut costs. But last week, the director of the Jefferson County public nursing home was told that the county could no longer afford to bury indigent patients.

Across town at the juvenile detention center, the man in charge was trying to figure out how to feed the 28 children in his custody when the entire cafeteria staff is let go. [...]

In July, the county asked Gov. Bob Riley, a Republican, to declare a state of emergency. Mr. Riley declined, delicately explaining that his authority extended to tornadoes but not to tsunamis of red ink.

Fast forward three years—to find the name "Jefferson County, Alabama" on the short list of municipal bankrupts. And to find the name "The Honorable Governor Robert Bentley" of the great state of Alabama (the state that ranks dead last in terms of state and local tax revenue collections) on the roster of those who signed ATF's "Taxpayer Protection Pledge." Don't let the media spin fool you: While pundits have been happy to chalk up Jefferson County's bankruptcy to malfeasance relating to public works, those who actually pay attention to what goes on in Alabama (Alabamians) are quite honest about the impact of basement level public (tax) revenues on the ability of Jefferson County to provide even basic services on an ongoing basis.

Basic services like burying our dead elders when there is no family who can afford to pay.

All Republican bleating about how much the federal government is supposedly paying for all our needs to the detriment of America aside, the vast majority of services to the American people are provided at the state and local level.  And paid for with funds (fees and taxes) generated at the state and local level.  Yet increasingly, cities, counties and states find themselves with no money to pay for those local and state services. This fiscal crisis is not just because federal money is drying up. It is because state and local money is drying up too.  States facing increasing costs in the face of decreasing local revenue and decreasing federal assistance have been forced to balance their budgets (as is required by law in 49 states) by slashing the services they provide.

It's unclear whether this is an accident—or by design.

Recall the "Taxpayer Protection Pledge" that I mentioned above? Did you know that more than 1,200 state officer holders have ALSO made the same promise?

It does make you wonder. Since the most recent recession began in 2007, the following US cities and counties have filed for bankruptcy under Chapter 9:

Gould, Arkansas (April 2008)
Vallejo, California (May 2008)
Westfall Township, Pennsylvania (April 2009)
Village of Washington Park, Illinois (July 2009)
Town of Moffett, Oklahoma (October 2009)
Prichard, Alabama (October 2009)
Boise County, Idaho (March 2011)
Central Falls, Rhode Island (August 2011)
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania (October 2011)
County of Jefferson, Alabama (November 2011)
Stockton, California (June 2012)

This is a depressingly impressive list. These 11 governments stand out because there have only been 33 municipal or county bankruptcies filed since 1988. Put another way: Within the past five years, there have been half of the number of municipal bankruptcy filings from the preceding 19 years.

Two of the last three of these have state and local governmental officials at least partially responsible for their fiscal health (Alabama's Gov. Robert Bentley and Pennsylvania's Gov. Tom Corbett) that are signatories of ATR's taxpayer protection pledge for fiscal year 2012.

Yet this list is also deceptively short. Perhaps this is because municipal bankruptcy is, by all accounts, a "last resort." Private businesses routinely seek Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization, almost as a business strategy, given that it allows them to escape their debts while restructuring their business to account for their latest and greatest market strategies as "debtors in possession." In contrast, governmental bankruptcy is chosen only after all avenues of cost-cutting and revenue generation to stave off the reaper have been exhausted.

Certainly, that was the case for Jefferson County, Alabama, which was having trouble burying its indigent dead a full three years before it finally gave in to the inevitable.

And the case for Stockton, California, which had to engage in mandatory mediation with its public and private creditors as a precondition of having access to the bankruptcy courts.

Stockton's current title as the largest municipality to file for bankruptcy protections may not last long, however, given what is on the horizon: more and more cities being forced to take a similar route to save themselves, financially. For example, one of the nation's great metropolises, the City and County of Los Angeles, having staved off the wolf for years now, may be on its last finger hold before slipping over the precipice.

This is consistent with what is being reported nationwide. In a recent white paper,"States Continue to Feel the Recession's Impact", the Center for Budget Policy and Priorities (CBPP) noted that there is increasing financial distress in our nation's states even as the recession is officially over. With somewhat obvious consequences.

Graph - Largest State Budget Shortfalls on Record
Largest State Budget Shortfalls on Record
(States Continue to Feel Recession's Impact,
Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, June 27, 2012)
In states facing budget gaps, the consequences are severe in many cases — for residents as well as the economy. To date, budget difficulties have led at least 46 states to reduce services for their residents, including some of their most vulnerable families and individuals. More than 30 states have raised taxes to at least some degree, in some cases quite significantly.

If revenues remain depressed, as is expected in many states, additional spending and service cuts are likely. . . While data are not yet available that would show the mix of state actions to resolve their budget gaps for 2013, the data through 2012 show that states have enacted more and more spending cuts every year since 2008. Federal aid and state tax increases have played diminishing roles in addressing the gaps, as the emergency federal aid ended and the elections of 2010 changed the political leadership in a number of states.

Spending cuts are problematic during an economic downturn because they reduce overall demand and can make the downturn deeper. When states cut spending, they lay off employees, cancel contracts with vendors, eliminate or lower payments to businesses and nonprofit organizations that provide direct services, and cut benefit payments to individuals. In all of these circumstances, the companies and organizations that would have received government payments have less money to spend on salaries and supplies, and individuals who would have received salaries or benefits have less money for consumption. This directly removes demand from the economy.

Tax increases also remove demand from the economy by reducing the amount of money people have to spend. However, to the extent these increases are on upper-income residents, that effect is minimized. This is because these residents tend to save a larger share of their income, and thus much of the money generated by a tax increase on upper income residents comes from savings and so does not diminish economic activity.

Things are so bad that we are at the point where it is surmised that even if nothing gets worse, it will be at least until the year 2019 before things will get better at the state level where their budgets for services are concerned.

Why haven't we noticed? Well, perhaps because most of us are not economists or economy wonks. Most do not follow stock and bond news with baited breath each day. So perhaps that is why we may never have heard of a woman named Meredith Whitney. Ms. Whitney is, to hear it told, one of the best financial analysts in the game. Now, Ms. Whitney doesn't usually write for the 99 percent—her raison d'etre always been providing investment analysis and advice for those who actually have disposable money to invest. Apparently, Ms. Whitney predicted a municipal bond crisis last year that never came to pass, so she has a bit of egg on her face these days where many of the movers and shakers of capital are concerned. Yet, it appears that Ms. Whitney may yet be vindicated—because she was in the vanguard when it came to raising (quiet) hell about the increasing weakness of state and local government budgets and a looming crisis. Today, more than three years after she first raised the alarm in 2009 about the long-term impact of the recession on state and local governments (and the fallout that would accrue to actual people were that to come to pass), folks who took a bit of a piss at Ms. Whitney's expense last year are nonetheless admitting as they watch the Jefferson County, Harrisburg and Stockton bankruptcies that the other shoe that Ms. Whitney said was going to crush state and local governments might till yet drop. "She got the analysis of the situation right, in terms of budgets and the fiscal stress on local governments."

A strong case could be made that this is all part of the plan, the true end game of Grover Norquist's fantasy. After all, the elimination of the ability of state and local government to provide services to a citizenry that cannot afford to pay for them means that only those who can afford to pay for them actually get served. That's just another step along the way of securing what appears to be a return to the age of peonage. But to get most of America there, it's not enough to take the jobs, take the housing, take the sense of security and prosperity. The movers and shakers must also make the inability to pay for anything meaningful enough to truly frighten the average person.  Arguably, this is done by eliminating the government structures created in large measure to cushion the fall when individual lives fall victim to circumstance. Perhaps this is why, despite the obvious answer to our problems of "taxes are too low", the one percent have made sure that the American dog of public opinion is laser focused on only a few squirrels. Squirrels such as the remaining pensions of every American public worker, the 401K boondoggle having already left most American workers with any savings breathless on a regular basis watching the vagaries of the investor class playing with their money.

Public pension reform has thus now become the battle cry. As the media whose mission focus is on the financial health of the investor class have gleefully told us with increasing repetition this past six months, what really needs to go if local and state budgets have any hope at all is the last bastion of public worker security in retirement.  After all, how can local government survive when it is on the hook for $2 trillion in unfunded liabilities?

The bondholders (aka the "investors in government") say this is so.

The really depressing part is that regular folk believe this: "Public pensions have become a flashpoint in elections around the country." Hell, even those supposedly on our side report the situation in terms that reinforce the narrative of "greedy rich public employees are killing our country," unquestioningly providing a platform of quotes for people who refer to things such as healthcare for retired firefighters (you know, those folks who go out and risk getting burned up to keep YOU from burning up in a wildfire or house fire) as a "Ponzi scheme."

And, just to make sure we can't figure out what is happening even if given enough time to think, those who set the narrative are now considering changing the definitions so that it is crystal clear precisely how much public pension funds owed to those who served the public are really the reason that local and state government is going broke (as opposed to all those crap investment strategies that were supposed to make everyone rich):

Moody's is seeking public comment through the end of August on four major changes it plans to make in how it treats pension liabilities. The negative impact of the modifications - which will start taking effect in the fall - will hit local governments such as counties, cities and towns, as well as school districts, most heavily - unless Moody's significantly alters them after reviewing the public comments.

"Moody's expects the proposed pension adjustments to result in rating actions for local governments where the effect is outsized relative to their rating category, but no state rating changes are expected solely as a result of pursuing the adjustments now under consideration," it said.

Cities and counties are likely to see downgrades, Blake said.

It seems that if things continue unabated, it will not be long before local and state governments—the ones closest to their citizenry and on the front lines of providing basic services such as fire, police, medical and housing services—will be unable to do what governments do: issue bonds to balance their own fiscal houses.

So, as goes Stockton so perhaps goes LA, and the rest of the nation, becoming the paradigm for our struggling cities, breaking the promises to its workers and its retirees so that it can satisfy the investor class, the "new normalcy," much the way that suddenly five percent unemployment became structural, instead of the really bad news it used to be back in the day when the promise of the American Dream, with an honest job at its core, actually still meant something.

With the result that Colorado is on fire, the appellate courthouses are shuttered unless you have money to pay for your own court reporters down below, and if you're a victim of domestic violence even in a state that gives a damn about you, good luck hiding out from your batterer on the run sleeping in your car because there is no shelter to take you and your kids to any more.

Oh, and there may not be any public library either.

If that happens? Just don't forget to turn off the (public street) lights to half the city, like they planned to do just a few weeks ago in Detroit, Michigan. Yes, that Detroit, Michigan. The Detroit, Michigan that was once the wealthiest city in America, the crown jewel in American manufacturing but today has only 60 percent of its fire trucks operational because it can't afford to fix them. That Detroit's local government is in such dire straits that its governing body was willing to plunge half the city into darkness to save money lends a frightening significance to the right-wing meme du jour that only 50 percent of Americans should be entitled to services because only 50 percent are really "taxpayers."

If the news is to be believed, places like Detroit and Stockton are just the beginning of the possible end—the drowning death—of many of America's cities.

Whether they are little towns, like Port Townsend, Washington; mid-sized towns, like Scranton, Pennsylvania; or towns the size of small states, like Los Angeles, California.

Places like Detroit, Michigan (which has too many "we're fuckin' broke" problems to list; but it's just 1 of 100 cities in Michigan that are broke, and therefore subject to the Emergency Manager Law, which makes the Taxpayer Protection Pledge look like a walk in the park on a sunny day).

Not to mention entire states, like Michigan, Illinois, California and even Wisconsin (with no small assist from Gov. Scott Walker , another signer of the Taxpayer Protection Act), as Grover Norquist proudly announced after Wisconsin's failed recall election.

The list of struggling localities could go on, inclusive of names familiar and unfamiliar such as Camden, New Jersey (which dismissed half of its police force in 2010); San Diego, California; and Chicago, Illinois.

We are, frighteningly, seeing only the tip of the iceberg if the Meredith Whitneys of the world are to be believed.

Maybe the true end game of the Taxpayer Protection Pledge and those who believe in such nonsense as gospel always was control of the distribution of services at the most grass roots levels of state and local government all along, with the resultant dependency on the largesse of those who believe in things like the Taxpayer Protection Pledge. Maybe the fight for federal government control was just the distraction. Or the enabler. There's some evidence to support that theory, at least to hear it told by some.

It certainly seems that everything happening to our states and cities is all just as the signers of the Taxpayer Protection Pledge would have it. To hear them tell it, it's a principled thing, this drowning of government. Only then will we as Americans truly be "free." Only then.

But in their world, free appears to mean freedom to sleep hungry under the stars. With no government-of-last-resort blanket to shield from the cold. But don't worry—even when our cities are dead busted broke and we are truly on our own, the bondholders (aka the investors aka the one percent) will still get make sure those truly in charge of the public fisc, the bondholders aka investors in government, get paid. Even if it means that the few lawyers with the skill and knowledge to shepherd the government through the bankruptcy process that tens of thousands of for-profit businesses voluntarily choose as a business strategy (to the applause and increased shareholder returns) don't get paid and, therefore, don't help.

But that's what pro bono lawyers are for. After all, the charity services method works for poor people with legal problems, so it should be good enough for poor governments too, right?
Oh. Wait. It actually doesn't work all that well for poor people (only 20 percent of poor people can find a lawyer, pro bono or otherwise, when they really need one). Maybe it is because the elite law firms that do things like represent an entire city government pro bono (albeit providing quite thorough advice comparable to that provided to their paying clients—credit where credit is due, after all) are the same ones that represent the private investor class that allows those firms to do pro bono only when it doesn't conflict with the "mission" of its very corporate, very well-off, paying clients.

And here we all were just worrying about ALEC.

Now, there is some good news: It appears that, like a stopped watch, even a Republican may be right twice a day. If I believe the news, some Republicans seeking national office are actually refusing to sign the Starve the Beast aka the Government Drowning aka the Taxpayer Protection Pledge. And, however feeble rhetorical efforts have been, a couple of national Democratic folks have also tried to highlight the enslavement of all Republican rationality (an oxymoron, some might argue today) by the Taxpayer Protection Pledge.

We even had one media person try to raise the alarm.

Yet comparatively few stories have raised the alarm to the shrillness that is required.
Certainly, none hae examined whether the end game of the right's normalization of the Taxpayer Protection Pledge as a condition of getting support for running for public office might be part of a larger strategy of starving not just the federal government, but state and local government too.

Certainly, this has not been a campaign theme that I have discerned coming from Democrats in this critical election year.

It may all be moot anyway at this point. The damage to the foundation of our union—the states and cities—may already be over the tipping point, since even without the Taxpayer Protection Pledge the mindset that it evinces is well entrenched. For example, bankrupt Stockton, California is represented partially by State Rep. Bill Berryhill—who isn't a signatory of the Taxpayer Protection Pledge. But he doesn't need to be, since his rabid anti-tax bona fides were already well established, and Stockton was doomed anyway from the moment that Gov. Jerry Brown did the will of Republicans who conveniently managed to forget the benefits their wealthy cities had earned abusing redevelopment in the '70s and '80s when screaming for its elimination last year and killed the vehicle of redevelopment using local property tax increment funding (and the related local bond financing secured by them) for poor, largely minority, struggling towns like Stockton that had turned to them to, God forbid, actually try to do things like clean up toxic waste and build affordable housing. When a supposedly liberal governor takes a sledgehammer to the only meaningful vehicle available to poor cities to fix their problems (using those cities' own tax monies) in the name of trying to fix the state's economic crisis with NO mention to repealing the one thing that has bankrupted this state, the anti-tax mentality has truly taken hold. Pledge signing or no pledge.

All this is occurring largely without any meaningful discussion of the human cost of our cities and states falling further and further into the financial abyss. Charity is optional. Eating isn't.

So, the man who 11 years ago envisioned drowning government in a bathtub appears well on his way to accomplishing his end game. (This was really the end game of that great American Saint Ronald Wilson Reagan.) Unfortunately, most of us have been spending so much time obsessing about the least important part of government in Real People's™ lives—the federal government—that we overlooked the importance of holding the line closer to home. Home where, quietly, our towns and cities and states are being starved to death, with the acquiescence if not enthusiasm of many of those who took oaths to serve the public. It is undeniable that on their watch and largely while our backs were turned, more and more of our cities started drowning. Our states, theoretically charged with jumping in the water to save them, are being pulled below the surface slowly by the undertow themselves. But make no mistake: There is no longer any big rescue boat—no federal government—willing to save either any more. Not when it now costs a billion dollars just to do a decent campaign for president (which simply ain't going to be raised at local bake sales).

What's the solution? Who knows what the solution is? But here is an idea about what a solution might be:

Dedicate some of the energy we invest into worrying about whether national politicians (the folks who are the most removed from the day to day needs of Americans) get elected into making sure that representation at the local, regional and state governmental level is not grounded in folks beholden to the investor class, to the "freedom class" (freedom to make money class, that is), but grounded in people who will pay attention to what is being done to life in America for the average American because they themselves are average enough to suffer the consequences themselves. It seems clear that any strategy developed to try and hold the line on a decent standard of living in our American towns and cities is in for a fight of a lifetime if we don't increase our ground troops on the ground—locally and regionally, where it matters the most:

We're fighting a vast faction with a mighty war chest bent on taking over this country by making our own government work against us. The proof is out there, practically in neon lights that Republican governors of many of our states have signed up for the takeover.

They follow an agenda set out for them by right-wing organizations fully capable of fighting the battle for the states all the way to the end, and they're determined not to stop there. They've forced nearly every single Republican politician to sign a pledge never to raise taxes or their funding will dry up as quick as dung in the desert sun. It's the Grover Norquist plan, and even though Grover Norquist has no real credentials, he is the front running Republican rule-maker and nobody in his party ever seems to wonder who died and made him king.

The diabolically clever part of the "never raise taxes" plan is that it can be used to effectively kill any program the Republicans are against. Any social program, any essential safety net, can die an unnatural death by defunding, underfunding or outright abolishing, thanks to the new rules set in place by the likes of Norquist, ALEC, the Koch cabal, the Supreme Court Citizens United decision, and various Tea Party newbies in the House who have promised to shed real red blood if necessary in order to honor the edicts of the monied right wing.

So we need to start talking about what to do—and how best to support those, like the fearless local advocates who have risen up and are rising up in Chicago, Detroit, Wisconsin and elsewhere against what they see on the ground every day, without regard to Washington politics. We need to do it now. Before it's too late. Because, in case you haven't noticed, those crazy kids (Taxpayer Protection Pledge signers or not) are coming to school boards, state boards of equalization, and other state-based folks who really control the flow of money for the local and county services that you, me and everyone (with the possible exception of Mitt Romney) needs to survive, near you. There is nothing sacred in the face of the absolutism shown by those who would even consider signing something like the Taxpayer Protection Pledge or joining onto its agenda even without signing.

If we don't truly look at what needs to be done in a systematic, nationwide, grassroots effort to save our cities and states (and actually start doing it), the many stories that I could have quoted and linked here about dying cities and towns but didn't will simply continue, with real people in the end being those who suffer from the loss. And when that happens—whether or not their legislators have signed the Grover Norquist loyalty oath abandoning their sworn duty to legislate in the public interest—the investor class will be the last ones left to turn the lights out in our hometowns when they fold for good.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I would question calling (32+ / 0-)

    Norquist a "gentleman"

    1.a man  of good family, breeding, or social position.
    2.a civilized, educated, sensitive, or well-mannered man

    Even though I am disappointed at some of his actions, I am thankful every day that Barack Obama is President and not George Bush and certainly not John McCain.

    by gritsngumbo on Sun Jul 08, 2012 at 09:36:17 AM PDT

  •  At least... (29+ / 0-)

    ..flesh out your Norquist biography with the facts:

    In 2001, a gentleman by the name of Grover Norquist (the titular head of Americans for Tax Reform) once (in)famously quipped that his quarter-century goal, which he described as "reasonable," was to "get government down to the size where [conservatives could] drown it in the bathtub."  Norquist was 12 freaking years old when he came up with this bullshit.

    Rob not the poor, because he is poor: neither oppress the afflicted in the gate. ~ Proverbs 22:22

    by wyvern on Sun Jul 08, 2012 at 09:39:00 AM PDT

  •  It may have occurred more than………………. (13+ / 0-)

    once; but I recall that the Rethug Leader of Kentucky’s Senate, David Williams,  made a big deal a few years ago of having that POS Norquist  into the state to “bless” the Commonwealth’s budget which met Norquist’s “no increase in revenue” standard.  I still wonder who elected this twerp and put him in charge of all our lives.

    The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation--HDT

    by cazcee on Sun Jul 08, 2012 at 09:41:07 AM PDT

  •  Shanikka great diary (28+ / 0-)

    Very detailed - and glad to see you on the front page...

    We need a strategy to fight back against this. The Republicans figured out if they could pass tax cuts first, we would have a hard time taking them back, and that would ultimately force budget cuts.

    I often see us on the defense saying "oh we are only going to raise taxes on people above $250,000." We need a tax reform bill that will work for us. We also need to begin explaining why Keynesian economics works - one person's spending increases another person's income. If the government reduces spending it decreases someone's income, if that person then reduces spending, it decreases yet another, and it becomes a chain effect.

    I get frustrated - how many people need to be poor before the poor have a voice?  

    As a member of Courtesy Kos, I am dedicated to civility and respect for all kossacks, regardless of their opinions, affiliations, or cliques.

    by joedemocrat on Sun Jul 08, 2012 at 09:41:18 AM PDT

  •  Why? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JeffW, shanikka

    State and local government spending, as a percentage of GDP, have risen strongly over the last 50 years, while federal spending has held approximately steady.  Why is that?

    •  state and local has been flat since 1975 (6+ / 0-)

      13% of GDP in 1975, and 13% of GDP in 2012.

      On what planet is a flat value for 35 years "rising strongly?"

      •  According to the San Fran Fed (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        State and local spending in 1970, its peak, was around 16% of GDP and now lags at 11%. But your basic point iosw valid. The myth of increased governmwent spending because of livberal excess has filled the ether and people who should no better are wringing theoir hands over the debt, the least of our worries.

        "State and local governments are a sizeable component of the economy.  For instance, the share of consumption and investment by state and local governments in real gross domestic product (GDP4) has been about 11 percent since 2005, although this share has been declining steadily from the peak of close to 16 percent in the mid-1970s.  In terms of employment, state and local governments account for 15 percent of U.S. payroll employment. This has been steady since the mid-1970s.5"

        "If I pay a man enough money to buy my car, he'll buy my car." Henry Ford

        by johnmorris on Sun Jul 08, 2012 at 03:56:46 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Thank you! (21+ / 0-)

    Congratulations on your first FP piece Sis Shanikka
    rec’ed !(and a tip in the jar that isn't there)

    no longer a virgin ;)

    I often worry about the fact that we focus so much on sweeping national issues - that we have completely forgotten about the importance of local - city/county concerns.

    amen for this

    If we don't truly look at what needs to be done in a systematic, nationwide, grassroots effort to save our cities and states (and actually start doing it), the many stories that I could have quoted and linked here about dying cities and towns but didn't will simply continue, with real people in the end being those who suffer from the loss

    "If you're in a coalition and you're comfortable, you know it's not a broad enough coalition" Bernice Johnson Reagon

    by Denise Oliver Velez on Sun Jul 08, 2012 at 09:41:30 AM PDT

    •  Thank You Sis! (10+ / 0-)

      I appreciate your support so much.  This is a little scary.

      And just getting this thing up was a challenge - I definitely forgot about the tip jar trick. =(

    •  The monied interests have their hands (13+ / 0-)

      everywhere.  Like magicians, they have been able to distract us with BS while accomplishing their goals hidden from view or attention.  And now they have a corporate media compliant in either supporting or hiding their actions as well.

      They've succeeded in reducing federal aid to states and states, in turn, have reduced aid to municipalities.  It started showly, but now it's become an avalanche.  And in places like Wisconsin, RWNJ Scott Walker has devastated state aid to cities leaving many municipalities even forced to reduce the minimum number of firefighters per firehouse shift to save a few bucks.

      You'd think that all this cutting would at least affect the tax burden of the working class, but it hasn't.  Taxes remain fairly stable for workers.  It's only the 1% that have seen the "benefit" of all that tax cutting - tax relief coming to those who need it least by cuts who need it most.  So, in keeping working peoples taxes up, they will continue have a large number of voters to support the tax cutters without realizing whose taxes will really be cut.

      The game is rigged by money, supported by money in a system where politicians are bought and sold like commodities.  Even if we get the money out of our elections, there's still the largess that comes from corporate junkets and the promise of post-elected office empoyment that keeps elected officials and their staffs beholden to the same monied interests that already have everything going their way.

      Unless there is change, we're one disaster away from torches and ptichforks time when peple wake up and realize what has been done to them.

      There already is class warfare in America. Unfortunately, the rich are winning.

      by Puddytat on Sun Jul 08, 2012 at 10:17:59 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Maybe it will really come to that. People are (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        marina, shanikka, Eric Nelson

        getting very angry, and this heat is going to start causing people a very short fuse.

        If they are dessimating public services like police and fire, what is going to happen when people start coming out of these destroyed and darkened cities like Detroit looking for some vengance?

        People seem so mystified that these groups of kids come into Chicago from poorer, surrounding projects and start raising hell.  This is just a small symptom of the anger brewing.  Maybe this kind of thing is what it will take to stop these ciphers and destroyers of democracy.

        The diarist sets clearly sets out the whole domino effect that "NO TAXES" wreaks.  Norquist is a cancer on our society, and I don't know why and how he is tolerated and why what he is doing isn't considered financial terrorism or sedition.

        I predicted years ago that the oligarchs would come after public pensions, and unhappily, it has proven to be a correct prediction.

        If the plutocrats begin the program, we will end it. -- Eugene Debs.

        by livjack on Sun Jul 08, 2012 at 11:40:21 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  I know that and you know that (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    shanikka, jacey

    but how can local governments increase taxes without causing businesses to move to lower-tax jurisdictions?  

    Article about Wall Street jobs being "outsourced" to Florida and North Carolina.

    •  Promise modern infrastructure (10+ / 0-)

      Fiber optics, modern reliable power grid, snow removal, public school provides well educated employee pool, Oh, Oh, and our state has ACA!!!!!!!

    •  Perhaps (15+ / 0-)

      We should stop worrying about whethen can move, quite so much.  I believe that business has played local and state governments against each other for a very long time just this way - with the result that all of them are held hostage to a revenue strategy that increasingly does NOT allow them provide meaningful service to the public.  Which is their primary mission.

      Governments are actually allowed to talk to each other in ways that private citizens and businesses are not when it comes to planning for the future.  Setting aside that those loonies truly committed to starvation through taxation as a way of furthering their right-wing agenda, those politicians aren't the majority YET.  Our job is to see that they will never become so, in part by highlighting thngs such as those raised by the article you link (which I thank you for.)

      (BTW, the method of interstate outsourcing to reduce salaries described in the article is how the commercial law biz is also engaging in outsourcing of things that can't be shipped overseas outright - with the blessing of the American Bar Association, no less.)

    •  Conservatives see the world as a zero sum game ... (10+ / 0-)

      that is "What you gain, I lose."

      That is NOT necessarily correct.  We can GROW the PIE and we can ALL gain.  But that takes work, and is not the mindset of people who do what amounts to betting.  

      When you bet, the size of the pot determines all that there is.  For the pot to grow, somebody has to put in more money.

      In business, by comparison, people MAKE things or GENERATE services.  That is not ZERO SUM.


      "The battle, sir, is not to the strong alone; it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave." -- Patrick Henry

      by BornDuringWWII on Sun Jul 08, 2012 at 10:08:30 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I May NOT Be Rich... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        ...but I've got more than you.  How pathetic is that attitude as the US augurs into the ground becoming a true third world country?

        Time is an enormous, long river, and I’m standing in it, just as you’re standing in it. My elders are the tributaries, and everything they thought and every struggle they went through & everything they gave their lives to flows down to me-Utah Phillips

        by TerryDarc on Sun Jul 08, 2012 at 03:27:04 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  The article says low- and mid-level jobs move (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      shanikka, jacey, TerryDarc

      the "fat cats" have to be in NY (so that they can control and justify their oversized compensation).

      The low- and mid-level workers are replaceable, so those jobs can get moved to low cost areas, and can be worked over the internet.  

      I am only surprised that they didn't send them to India or other foreign countries that have a significant English-speaking population with a modicum of education.

      "The battle, sir, is not to the strong alone; it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave." -- Patrick Henry

      by BornDuringWWII on Sun Jul 08, 2012 at 10:19:45 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Love Your Sig Line (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Patrick Henry? Good 'un! Rec'd.

        Time is an enormous, long river, and I’m standing in it, just as you’re standing in it. My elders are the tributaries, and everything they thought and every struggle they went through & everything they gave their lives to flows down to me-Utah Phillips

        by TerryDarc on Sun Jul 08, 2012 at 03:28:31 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Not every business takes that attitude (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      and if a business in my state jumps ship or threatens to because of a possible tax hike, I say don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out .

      liberal bias = failure to validate or sufficiently flatter the conservative narrative on any given subject

      by RockyMtnLib on Sun Jul 08, 2012 at 12:39:59 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Go back one step to California and Prop 13 (18+ / 0-)

    Howard Jarvis the anti-tax pioneer led the way with that jewel, which I understand a lot folks in Cali wish they could make disappear today.  I remember when it passed, and thought "jeez, who pays for essential services if not taxpayers?" All my republican co-workers were convinced that be changing the tax climate business would flock to the fertile tax-free ground and do what?  Not pay taxes, of course.  

    Now we see what happens, and it's not pretty.  I guess the folks who don't want to pay taxes will be happy to pay private companies for police, fire, sewer etc... and just fall in love with their corporate overlords every time they raise their rates because well, FREEDOM!

    A celibate clergy is an especially good idea, because it tends to suppress any hereditary propensity toward fanaticism. -Carl Sagan

    by jo fish on Sun Jul 08, 2012 at 09:42:30 AM PDT

    •  I say this over and over again, but Proposition 13 (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Utahrd, shanikka, jacey

      was a solution to a real problem at the time.  Unfortunately it was glommed onto by people with a bigger agenda.

      With property values increasing at an enormous rate in the 70s, 80s, and 90s, without Proposition 13 people would have been effectively priced out of their homes.  Especially those on fixed incomes, hell we are all on fairly flat incomes these days.

      The loopholes corporations have drilled out of Proposition 13 have to go as well as the supermajority for the raising of taxes, but the basics of Prop 13 were put in place to solve a real problem that the legislature refused to address back then.

      "I watch Fox News for my comedy, and Comedy Central for my news." - Facebook Group

      by Sychotic1 on Sun Jul 08, 2012 at 09:50:24 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I wish someone would ask (23+ / 0-)

    Mitt and his merry band of followers to please name the nation where their model of low to no taxes, less government, no gun restrictions, and letting people be reliant on themselves is working? The progressives can name many that rank in  higher longevity, education, transportation, happiest, healthier, lower infant mortality rates, higher taxes, and solvent.. Scandinavia, the Netherlands, Canada all come to mind.. but the only country that actually fits THEIR model is Somalia. I would love to see their response.

    •  Good Point (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      shanikka, jacey
    •  They often mention... China, ironically. (14+ / 0-)

      Not for its social policies, of course--the Chinese government routinely forces women to have abortions, oppresses various non-official flavors of Christianity (and other faiths as well), and a few other things that would make US right-wingers squirm.

      But Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich, among others, have praised China's economic model.

      China.  The fucking People's Republic of China.

      What they know, as does any observer of China, is that Marxism/Maoism in China was shot and buried several decades ago.  It  still makes an appearnace in official propaganda, of course, as the CCP continues justifies its monopoly on power with a combination of Marxist slogans and appeals to Confuscianism.  But the modern Chinese economy is crony capitalism on steroids.  The social safety net is next-to-non-existent (and utterly unavailable for anyone who relocates from their hometown).  Progressive taxation is unheard of; basic services are provided on a fee-for-service model.  Corruption is rampant.  Regulation non-existent and easily bypassed with bribes.  Private labor unions are banned--under "communism" the state assumes the function of representing workers' rights (and guess how weil that works out)?

      The GOP plan for raising employment in the US, of course, is to dismantle the safety and regulatory net HERE, so US workers can (once again) have the "right" to work for shit wages in company towns.

  •  It's more than that. (4+ / 0-)

    When the Republicans are in power, there is no end to the largesse - to Republican seats of power! The intent here is NOT to starve the states forever; only until the powerful regain control and can selectively feed the states that will support them.

    (And all the "liberals" who fail to actively support the Democrats are simply feeding the would-be oligarchs of the world. It does no good to whine about how they're just as bad as the Republicans.)

  •  From 1937 to 2008 there were fewer than 600 (7+ / 0-)
    municipal bankruptcies. As of June 2012 the total is now around 640.

    Recent Chapter 9 filing counts
    Year    Filings
    2006    5
    2007    6
    2008    4
    2009    12
    2010    6
    2011    13
    1st half 2012    7

    Präsidentenelf-maßschach"Nous sommes un groupuscule" (-9.50; -7.03) "Ensanguining the skies...Falls the remorseful day".政治委员, 政委‽ Warning - some snark above ‽

    by annieli on Sun Jul 08, 2012 at 09:44:22 AM PDT

  •  They didn't just pledge not to raise taxes (17+ / 0-)

    in California, the 'Governator' killed an existing tax that had been suspended in good times in lieu of sending out rebate checks.  When the VLF was not returned to its previous state, the General Fund was forced to make up the difference in transfers to cities and counties.  This difference is over $2 billion per year.  If you multiply that by the number of years since it was suspended, one can see that it is the source of California's current deficit.  Yet here we sit again, with state workers taking a 5 percent pay cut for the next 12 months.  This is on top of our increased retirement and medical contributions.  

    Many workers who have been in the same position for years are taking home far less than they were four years ago.  Essentially wages are not just stagnant for state workers, they are declining.

    "I watch Fox News for my comedy, and Comedy Central for my news." - Facebook Group

    by Sychotic1 on Sun Jul 08, 2012 at 09:44:34 AM PDT

    •  Motive: keep Obama from 2nd term (7+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JeffW, shanikka, judyms9, SuWho, jacey, JanL, Eric Nelson

      I believe the effect you outline has become a nationwide model.  When city, state and local workers get pay cuts and layoffs this eats away at Obama's base.

      Folks like McConnell and Boehner have nothing to lose by stalling and filibustering Obama.  Both are sucure in their state and district so they have nothing politically to lose from stalling Obama.

    •  Oh I Remember (11+ / 0-)

      When the idiot governor suspended the VLF.  I don't agree with you that it is "the source" of California's current deficit (IMO that honor still goes to Prop. 13 - and we have been experiencing the downside of that since the recession began because homeowners are entitled to downward revisions of their assessments to account for lost equity, assessments whose amounts already were suppressed by the 2% cap unless someone bought right at the peak of the market.)  But it is definitely a factor.

      State and city workers are definitely hurting.  Except for police departments - whose percentage share of budgets are growing because nobody wants to get tagged with not taking care of "public safety." =(

      Although the budget guy in LA has made clear that if the city gets any closer to broke, public safety is going to take a hit. At least on his watch, it is.

      •  The right wing is making the police departments (9+ / 0-)

        their personal enforcers.  Blackwater/Xi/Whatever is not yet up to speed to take on all the local uprisings that are both anticipated and assured.

        Romney went to France instead of serving in our military, got rich chop-shopping US businesses and eliminating US jobs, off-shored his money in the Cayman Islands, and now tells us to "Believe in America."

        by judyms9 on Sun Jul 08, 2012 at 10:11:23 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  That And Their Hideously Regressive Sales Tax (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          Minimum 7.75%. Friends recently bot a computer over the border in Oregon where we have no sales tax but pretty high prop and personal income taxes.

          The sales tax hits everyone, all the time and cuts down on retail sales. Not only do Republican hate America, they hate retail businesses, too, it seems.

          Time is an enormous, long river, and I’m standing in it, just as you’re standing in it. My elders are the tributaries, and everything they thought and every struggle they went through & everything they gave their lives to flows down to me-Utah Phillips

          by TerryDarc on Sun Jul 08, 2012 at 03:44:08 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  i am a municiple worker (0+ / 0-)

        for nearly 20 years...and there is NO doubt that we at the local level are hurting badly.  

        i'm in the middle of contract negotiations (so I can't say much)...but it's been difficult, to be sure.  we've had about 15 layoffs in our employee unit alone in the last few included, thanks to the elimination of redevelopment. (though I'm "lucky" and got demoted back to a job i held 13 years ago...but with the same employer, so keep my benefits and a livable wage...thankfully, i'm okay)

        i have no grand ideas and my 'fight' is being beat down...sadly.

        With congrats and kudos on your great first post, unfortunately reading this makes me feel even more defeated and depressed...not energized to fight.  the vilification of public employees of all sorts is insane...and hurtful...and dangerous.  99% of us (there are ALWAYS EVERY business!) work our @sses off because we believe in what we do...because, get this...we're "public servants" dammit!  AND many of us chose to stay here when the rest of the world was making hand over fist in salary and benefits...because it was steady and something that would ALWAYS be in business, with some decent benefits that made up for the lower wages comparatively. that's far from the truth these days.  

        i figuratively bash my head against the wall some day with the insanity that has gotten us here...wondering how far down are we really going to go.  it scares me to think about LA going the way of Stockton & Vallejo...for oh, so many reasons...and having a sister working as a firefighter there is a personal one.

        sigh...anyway...blah blah...venting...blah.

        right now...i think i need to just go treat myself and have a slice of the banana bread i just made...only my 2nd loaf ever (had some old bananas, thought I'd give it a go!), hope it tastes as good as it looks...

        "If I can't change the world, I'll change the world within my reach" - Catie Curtis & Mark Erelli

        by Heather in SFBay on Sun Jul 08, 2012 at 07:53:06 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  California Should Demand It's Share ... (6+ / 0-)

      ... of Federal taxes.  From 1990 to 2009 California has paid $336B more in Federal taxes than it got back.  $336B over 20 years averages out to $16.8B a year. Meanwhile, all those "fiscally responsible" Red States take in much more than they pay in, i.e. Welfare States.  California would not be in near the financial trouble it is today if it got its share of money back from the Federal government.

      Poor man wants to be rich. Rich man wants to king. And the king ain't satisifed until he rules everything. B.Springsteen

      by howd on Sun Jul 08, 2012 at 10:54:57 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  We got mugged in the energy issue (4+ / 0-)

        some years ago.  Up until that point we were running a surplus, which is why we had reduced the Vehicle Licensing Fee, because we were not allowed to run a surplus.

        Enron completely screwed us, along with that fine old friend deregulation.

        "I watch Fox News for my comedy, and Comedy Central for my news." - Facebook Group

        by Sychotic1 on Sun Jul 08, 2012 at 01:20:38 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Californians Get Back 78 Cents On The Dollar... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        howd, peregrine kate

        ...while we in Oregon get 98 cents (woohoo!) and Washington get 88 cents. Bottom line is that the left coast and blue states in general gets screwed.

        ALTHOUGH! Chris Christy's state of NJ gets back a whopping 61 cents. Nice going, Chris!

        Red states do particularly well in federal largesse. We might consider an amendment to the constitution to give back exactly what the states pay in. Shortfalls in education and unemployment insurance and other fairness issues could be dealt with ad hoc.

        Time is an enormous, long river, and I’m standing in it, just as you’re standing in it. My elders are the tributaries, and everything they thought and every struggle they went through & everything they gave their lives to flows down to me-Utah Phillips

        by TerryDarc on Sun Jul 08, 2012 at 03:52:45 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Red States (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          peregrine kate

          Red states get more federal money than they put in.  They get more Congressional representation than their population would dictate and they bitch about how the Blue States are ruining this country.  What a joke.

          Poor man wants to be rich. Rich man wants to king. And the king ain't satisifed until he rules everything. B.Springsteen

          by howd on Sun Jul 08, 2012 at 07:32:03 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Wow, what a great analysis of what the real (12+ / 0-)

    issue will be for the next President.

    We would not have an employment problem if Civil Servants and government contractors were not being laid off.  Unemployment would be in the low 6% range.

    So what has Norquist's pledge done for us?  Ensured a continuing depression.  And whether or not Mitt Romney is the next President, we will continue to face this devolution of costs to the smaller and smaller scale.  It was the inevitable result of the Bush Tax Cuts.  

    So what is at stake in November is whether the next President will veto the extension of the tax cuts.  Not just for the middle class or upper class.  Veto those tax cuts for everyone.   If we do not pay for the services we want and the wars we didn't want but still have to pay for, the US will be in a debt crisis which will force European style "austerity".  

    Remember it is only austerity if you are in the 99%.  I was just in Greece and there are still Ferraris rolling around on the twisty roads.

    The Muslim said "I wished I had met Christ before I met the Christians" - Rev. Marvin Winins

    by captainlaser on Sun Jul 08, 2012 at 09:45:46 AM PDT

  •  restore local budgets, cut Nat'l waste-budgets (9+ / 0-)

    local budgets help us, national budgets generally are funding star-wars and other idiocy.

    Build a bike path & sidewalk, not another tank.

    80 % of success is showing up

    Corporate is not the solution to our problem

    Corporate is the problem

    by Churchill on Sun Jul 08, 2012 at 09:46:56 AM PDT

  •  Here's a Noval idea for states. (11+ / 0-)

    Quit giving away tax revenue to business through tax credits and incentives..  

    •  Corbett in PA is a great/terrible example (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Corbett had already promised Shell that it didn't have to pay state or local taxes for 20 years to put in a NG refinery in western PA. Suddenly right before the budget was passed we found out that he was also going to give them $67,000,000 a year for 20 years as 'incentive'.

      Oh, and the taxpayers would pay for the pollution clean up on the site they want to place this plant. But the clean up costs have never been assessed so no one knows what that will cost. But we do know it is a very polluted site. The company that is there now is still in business but it appears they are to be let completely off the hook.

      Corbett also happened to cut a little over 67 million from a program to help the disabled. After all you have to keep your priorities straight.  Money to help disabled people keep their homes or money to give to one of the richest corporations in the world for no reason.  Easy decision.

    •  Except... (0+ / 0-)

      ...I think you do want to encourage certain businesses, temporarily. Big Pharma, big oil and big agriculture could go fish but alternative energy and things that might produce the next gee-whiz device creating thousands of jobs could be given 5 year proving periods, maybe.

      Time is an enormous, long river, and I’m standing in it, just as you’re standing in it. My elders are the tributaries, and everything they thought and every struggle they went through & everything they gave their lives to flows down to me-Utah Phillips

      by TerryDarc on Sun Jul 08, 2012 at 03:54:57 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  sounds like 'serfdom' not 'freedom' (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    shanikka, happymisanthropy, jacey, a2nite, JanL

    serfdom to the corporate structure.
    I've often thought what they think they'll get with 'less taxes'.
    Especially after living here under 'gubmint control' with things like Social Security, medicare and medicaid, police/fire depts, public works, etc...
    Stay with Grover and they will be groveling...

    "We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them." - Albert Einstein

    by pickandshovel on Sun Jul 08, 2012 at 09:49:41 AM PDT

    •  you always have to think directly opposite with (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      shanikka, marina

      the GOP.  Whatever word or term they use that sounds positive, choose the polar opposite word or term, and you've exposed their real agenda.

      They have even managed to do this with the word "freedom."  

      Horrible, evil agenda.

      If the plutocrats begin the program, we will end it. -- Eugene Debs.

      by livjack on Sun Jul 08, 2012 at 11:47:30 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  ATF (5+ / 0-)
    In furtherance of that (ig)noble goal, ATF sponsors
    Fast and furious?

    "I'm sculpting now. Landscapes mostly." ~ Yogi Bear

    by eXtina on Sun Jul 08, 2012 at 09:51:44 AM PDT

  •  Good but missing the other half of the story (17+ / 0-)

    Jefferson county was the result of a massive fraud by J.P. Morgan.   It is fairly complicated but essentially they took $300 million through various means for themselves and stuck the county with bonds that were about as bad as possible for the municipiality (and took fees for the privilege.)   When the bond offerings failed (nobody bought the bonds because they didn't look like a good investment) clauses in the offering turned them into loans at %10 interest.    

    The county’s downward spiral began in earnest in 2008 when the auction rate securities market collapsed.  As mostly everyone knows, the investment banks serving as auction agents on the bonds had been propping up auctions for months as investors were becoming increasingly skeptical of the liquidity of their holdings, but the banks eventually had to withdraw their support.  In January, the credit rating agencies went on a rampage downgrading bond insurers, including FGIC and XL Capital Assurance, which insured Jefferson County’s debt.  Jefferson County’s auctions failed, leaving the county paying the penalty interest rates stipulated in bond documents, as much as 10%.  (This was happening to all issuers in the ARS market by February.  Whether the penalty rate was even remotely affordable depended on how bond documents were drafted and whether the penalty rate was a fixed rate or based on an index plus a spread.)  

    Read more:

    So the banks lied to the buyers of the bonds by artificially propping up their prices, and when that could not be sustained they pulled out and collected "penalty rates" that made the county even more in debt.  

    The upshot is that the bondholders (just by chance, I'm sure) ended up owning the sewer system.   The sewer system, which was built with public money, has been privitatized by default.

    Exactly what Nordquist wanted.

    •  The Bain Method! n/t (11+ / 0-)

      Float like a manhole cover, sting like a sash weight! Clean Coal Is A Clinker!

      by JeffW on Sun Jul 08, 2012 at 09:57:58 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  A Lot of Attention (8+ / 0-)

      Has been paid to the malfeasance-in-office/fraud aspects of the Jefferson County story.  I don't think that's accidental - I think it's a squirrel thing; easier to focus on corrupt officials than on structural deficits which lead folks to engage in corrupt deals to generate revenue.  Too little attention has been paid to the fact that the bonded tax stream which ultimately went nowhere sent people to jail represented 25% of the county's budget.  Which should never have happened - and but for starvation of other revenues likely never would have happened with a county council that wasn't already desperate by the time this deal came along.  I by no mean to excuse JP Morgan Chase by not discussing them, however.  Frankly, Jefferson County should go after it, if it hasn't already (especially since the only folks that are even surviving motions to dismiss when it comes to securities fraud issues are large institutional investors.)  However, this piece is about the larger trend - and most states, counties and cities do not have the same problem when it comes to malfeasance that Jefferson County.

      •  As somenone who used to invest in munis (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        shanikka, jacey

        I would not be too sure about the last statement.   (Does Greece ring a bell?   That was Goldman's doing, about the same way.)

        Jefferson county was an extreme case, probably more bribery than normal and less revenue.   Take the same thing in Seattle and it disappears in the wash (although brightwater nearly rose to this level.)   Seattle is about to do the same thing with a basketball stadium bond, by the way.    

        Jessie James robbed banks because "that is where the money is."   Today the only reliable money is in municpalities.   Jefferson county is a lot more common than people think.

  •  The Solution Is Demand (11+ / 0-)

    Federal government must unleash a storm of stimulus spending, targeted at infrastructure, to put people back to work on the things that we need to create a new future for ourselves. This spending will stimulate demand and therefore growth, which is the only way that states will start to dig themselves out of the current hole.

    I don't see any other possible -- or any less politically probable -- solution.

    "I'll believe that corporations are people when I see Rick Perry execute one."

    by bink on Sun Jul 08, 2012 at 09:54:00 AM PDT

  •  "Something for nothing." (16+ / 0-)

    We hear that complaint a lot from the Tea Partiers and short-sighted Republicans.  They bitch about people who want something for nothing and don;t pay their fair share.

    Of course, these same people are often the first to complain that their street didn't get plowed soon enough (like first).  They complain that it takes too long for electricity to be restored when their is a system failure.  They bitch about traffic jams resulting from overburdened roadways in areas with inadequate or non-existent public transit options.  They expect schools to take on a large share of what used to be basic parenting.  And yet they don't want to pay their fair share to address these problems.

    They want something for nothing.  

    dissent not only welcome... but encouraged

    by newfie53523 on Sun Jul 08, 2012 at 09:55:08 AM PDT

  •  Thanks Grover, Louisville KY has 5 public pools (13+ / 0-)

    As a budget cutting plan, Louisville closed all but 5 public pools three years ago.  Great news for Grover, bad news for kids baking in 105 degree heat.  If you're not rich enough in Louisville to belong to a private swim club, you have no place to swim.

    Thanks Grover.

  •  A hearty welcome to the Front Page,... (18+ / 0-) friend. Two key phrases from your excellent piece need reiterating:

    • the fallout that would accrue to actual people

    • even those supposedly on our side

    Making even modest progress to reverse this disaster will require us to focus intensely on those two.

    We get the news, when we get it, in statistics. Behind them are real, live people, real Americans, clubbed by the Norquistian agenda.

    And some of our "friends" have signed onto not the Norquist pledge but onto the propaganda juggernaut that has nearly disarmed us in the fight to shield those real, live people from the cudgels and go on the offensive. Too many have bought the arguments of the right in this matter of budgets.

    Kudos for this analysis, shanikka.

    Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

    by Meteor Blades on Sun Jul 08, 2012 at 09:59:33 AM PDT

  •  Why have government: Feudal Solutions (9+ / 0-)

    Why have a local government at all?

    Get rid of all administrators, all bureaucrats all employees. Then ask some local billionaire to act the feudal lord and with his largesse deign to help out here and there where needed, with clean water supplies, fire hazard prevention, and oh, that little thing called crime. (The ultimate outcome of Ron Paul's ideology.)

    Why not just divide up the country according to local billionaire lords? And bow to them while you plead, once a year, for some assistance.

  •  A few thoughts... (8+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    judyms9, shanikka, Chi, cazcee, 3goldens, SuWho, jacey, JanL

    Stockton CA went bankrupt rather than pay its pensions. We will soon forget the name of the municipality where it started, because it will happen all over. (Stockton is larger than Cincinnati, Anchorage, Saint Paul, Toledo, and Newark. Its is about the size of Lexington, Pittsburgh, and Corpus Christi.)

    Call your Senator and ask if he/she signed the pledge. If so, tell your Senator that he/she has betrayed you and you cannot support Grover Norquist.

    Call your Representative and ask if he/she signed the pledge. If so, tell your Representative that he/she has betrayed you and you cannot support Grover Norquist.

    Call your Governor and ask if he/she signed the pledge. If so, tell your Governor that he/she has betrayed you and you cannot support Grover Norquist.

    Call your Mayor and ask if he/she signed the pledge. If so, tell your Mayor that he/she has betrayed you and you cannot support Grover Norquist.

    I'd like to see "taking the pledge of allegiance to Grover" as the damning issue on every level of the 2012 election.

    Oh, Grover says they took the pledge to the American taxpayer, not to him. BUT that is a lie, because I pay tax and I never demanded such a pledge be made to me.

    Grover backs up his threat by saying his group will destroy the politicians financially if they DON'T pledge.

    That is blackmail, political extortion.
    It is the same as a deadbeat parent enriching him/herself at the expense of the one he/she is charged to administer.

    THIS IS IT. This is the end of the pledge. Call your elected officials and tell them they're safe to break the pledge. That there is no longer a terrorist's gun to their head (Grover's threats to drive them from office) forcing them to violate their civic obligations.

    [Vote them out anyway, the cowards!!!!!!!!!!]

    Mitt Romney has no idea what he stands for. Do you?

    by Says Who on Sun Jul 08, 2012 at 10:03:44 AM PDT

    •  I like this idea........................... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      SuWho, shanikka, JanL

      it is the kind of thing that needs to go viral on the social media. The mainstream media sure as hell will not help promote it.

      Post the names of all the officials that kiss that POS Norquist's ass who, BTW, has never run for office and faced voters.  Then give people who actually vote the means to tell these elected public servants how the feel about their fealty to a destructive, political/economic concept developed by a snotty 12-year-old.

      Finally, I found something interesting when researching that Norquist has never run for public office. I wonder how many Tea-baggers, Evangelicals, Xenophobes and other assorted hard core right wingers would be happy to know that Grover married a Muslim (my personal belief is that there is nothing wrong with that)? Is the No Tax Pledge a move toward sharia law?.

      I know it might be considered dirty politics but we are quickly running out of options.

      The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation--HDT

      by cazcee on Sun Jul 08, 2012 at 11:03:28 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  If we could somehow get rid (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    shanikka, jacey

    of the balanced budget requirements in the states we'd be able to climb out of this hole much quicker.

    The people have spoken and they're both named Koch. - Andy Borowitz

    by Red Bean on Sun Jul 08, 2012 at 10:12:13 AM PDT

  •  Dear Grover Norquist (7+ / 0-)

    You say we should run the government like a family and then tell us how you would run the government.  So I decided to run my family the way you say we should run the government.

     First I decided my family should be small enough to drown in a bathtub. Something bothered me about this but I said what the heck, all these conservative family oriented theories can’t be wrong can they?

    So the way you say we should do this is first to cut revenues so we can drive up our debt giving us an excuse to make some long needed cuts

     So I went from full time work to part time and started running all my bills off of my credit card.  Before long I had tripled, quadrupled and tripled again all my debts.  Yesterday I had to call all the kids together and gave them the bad news. “Kids”, I said, “the family can no longer afford you, I’m so sorry but we’re going to have to let you go.  We’ve outsourced your positions offshore to foreign children we'll never have to look at; Sally Struthers subcontracted us five kids for only pennies a day.” This morning my wife volunteered for an early retirement. "You cheap a** b*st*rd I can't believe you really did that", she said.   I mean god forbid I should TAX myself with a full time job.

     Now that my family is small enough,  I think I’ll just go drown myself in the bathtub..

    Where there is no vision, there is no hope. George Washington Carver

    by Amayupta yo on Sun Jul 08, 2012 at 10:12:50 AM PDT

  •  Epic story, thanks for the hard work! (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    shanikka, ybruti, jacey

    What are people doing about this?

    How did Supreme Court decision ACA help the 23 million still uncovered? Ask the 18,000 Doctors of PNHP -- they're not waiting, FORWARD now to pass H.R. 676, the “Expanded and Improved Medicare for All Act .

    by divineorder on Sun Jul 08, 2012 at 10:15:58 AM PDT

    •  Pulling these devious control freaks out of the (5+ / 0-)

      shadows is a beginning, Grover, the Kochs, Lords of Wall Street, Adelson, etc. and exposing their agendas and contempt for average Americans is what is needed.  Point out the profits they squeeze from the unwary and the delight they take in sending our kids off to destroy and rebuild nations with contracts for them and with financial market gyrations that would shame the Kama Sutra.  Finally, hype the fear card:  The shootout will be coming to your neighborhood, because it certainly will be.  Civilization is build in increments and erodes in the same way.  Grover, et. al. are just spreading the lye and the lies around to keep us from noticing the palm-rubbing delight these power merchants take in playing us all for fools.  The erosion began some time ago with the Southern Strategy.  Nobility was the first layer to go.

      Romney went to France instead of serving in our military, got rich chop-shopping US businesses and eliminating US jobs, off-shored his money in the Cayman Islands, and now tells us to "Believe in America."

      by judyms9 on Sun Jul 08, 2012 at 10:28:14 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Dedication To Full Employment Use To Be Part (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    shanikka, ybruti, jacey

    of the Democratic platform. It is Economics 101. Government deficit spending during tough times and surpluses during boom times. the balanced budget legislation on the state level is a killer and is part of the reason recoveries now are so lackluster.

  •  Pretty much the entire problem (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    shanikka, jacey

    is "unfunded liabilities" . . . the habit of passing off present obligations to the future.  There would not be a municipal pension or retiree health care "problem" if investing in an appropriate and sufficient pension fund had been taken as a current expense.  Despicable though he is you cannot blame Norquist for passing on to future taxpayers past and present debt . . . that was a choice that the now bankrupt cities and counties made all on their own.

    Funding government operations through debt (and "unfunded liabilities" are just another kind of debt) is bound to fail . . . it doesn't work on the city or county level, and it doesn't work for nations, either.  As the unsustainability of these "obligations" becomes obvious (of course it has always been obvious if you thought about it) we're going to see more and more of these government defaults, and there is no "easy" way out . . .

    Fake Left, Drive Right . . . not my idea of a Democrat . . .

    by Deward Hastings on Sun Jul 08, 2012 at 10:31:49 AM PDT

  •  Something to consider ... (7+ / 0-)

    The 'pensions' angle fits within so many of the RWSM/future-destroying mafia's rhetoric: there is some truth to the discussion.

    There are communities where there is perceived fraud in disability programs for public workers and where there are very generous retirement programs set up decades ago that seem out-of-whack with 21st economic realities.  Thus, there are real stories

    The real problem, much more serious, is the opening the drain via minimizing government revenues.  

    There are too many who refuse to acknowledge that their taxes pay for the roads they drive on, the police that protect them, the teachers who teach their kids (or at least the people their kids will live / work with in the future), the parks their kids play in, etc ...

    Traveling to Hait, what struck me as the stark contrast between the wealth and quality of infrastructure of the elite's walled compounds and the lousy infrastructure and stark poverty of naked children just on the other side of the walls.  

    Too many of Norquist's devotees aspire for a gated American future that results in a Haiti-like environment.

    We need to send more people on vacations to Libertarian paradise.

    Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart NOW! for a sustainable energy future.

    by A Siegel on Sun Jul 08, 2012 at 10:34:00 AM PDT

  •  More info, please (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    You quote the Reuters article that says 1) there is now $2 trillion in unfunded pension liabilities and that 2) looking back at 2010, governments misstated their liabilities by over 200%.

    But I don't see anything here that says that these figures are incorrect. If the numbers are right, what kind of taxation will be necessary to adequately fund these pensions?

    •  To Me (5+ / 0-)

      The more appropriate question is not how much taxation will be required to fund the unfunded liabilities (the question the right wants us to ask, because it has trained us to be worried about the possibility of "high taxes" before anything else).  The question should be whose head(s) should be on a pike for lying by omission to all of us over the decades of deliberate underfunding of this well-known in advance liability, i.e. by failing to point out to us that all that "lower taxes!" rhetoric and its success was going to screw us royally when the promises we made to government workers actually came do.

      They are more than happy to talk about future liabilities when it comes to these workers because after 3 decades private workers have not only been cowed into submission and can't count on ANY secure future in retirement, but they have been trained like seals to be jealous about something that they SHOULD have had  (remember, this attack on public pensions comes only after decades of destroying private-employer ones was basically finished.)

      •  Heads on pikes (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        shanikka, terrypinder

        I live in NYC—I know precisely who lied to me, and they are virtually all now out of office. And FWIW, they were both Republican and Democrat. Some of the names are Cuomo, Giuliani, Koch, Dinkins, Pataki ...

        But let me assume that we track them down and bring them to justice (on what charge, I don't exactly know; do you?). We will, still, I presume, owe the pensions. So, where is the money going to come from? Or are we not interested in that problem?

        •  The Money (4+ / 0-)

          Will, obviously, come from all of us.   To the extent of our means.  And yes, it will hurt.  For a while.

          The question is whether we actually believe what we lecture everyone else about when it comes to "personal responsibility" or whether the mere prospect is enough to have us say "Screw 'Em!" when it comes to the workers we made promises to, and now want to abandon since it's time to pay the piper.

          But what the hey - the feds have tried to renege on their promises to veterans, I guess public workers shouldn't complain /sigh.

          •  Eggzackly. (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            shanikka, terrypinder

            It musta seemed like a great day to those municipal pension fund managers who first realized, "Hey!  I can take this money and play the stock market, and make enough in 6 months to cover a whole year's worth of pension liabilities--then whatever I kin make in the other 6 is pure surplus!  The city will never have to raise taxes to cover pension obligations again!"

            And it was good.

            Until it wasn't.

            Would love to know how many municipalities, having got out of the habit of funding those liabilities, just stopped paying in altogether when the free money dried up.  And some don't even seem aware that it has--as late as last October NYC was proposing to consolidate all muni pension boards into one monster outfit to make it easier to siphon off that sweet, sweet moolah.  Twas only announced yesterday that the plan's being withdrawn--

            It ain't free speech if it takes cash money.

            by Uncle Igor on Sun Jul 08, 2012 at 03:43:25 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  the Norquist ball soaring over our heads (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I think that ball was kicked in 2008, then landed in 2010.

  •  Great 1st front page diary shanikka! (7+ / 0-)

    As I've been shouting for years, with the exception of Howard Dean's "50 state strategy days" progressive in far too much of the country have taken their eyes off the ball when it come to fighting local battles.

    I often tell people that who would of thought taking control of a school board in Texas could effect 1/3 of the text books sold in this country? Conservatives did, they are much better at using initiative and state level fights to help define the national agenda, than progressives are. Out side of Pacific coast, Colorado, and North East, liberals are far too absent from local battles. Luckily it seems that in the Midwest we're starting to see an awakening of state level progressive action.

    -1.63/ -1.49 "Speaking truth to power" (with snark of course)!

    by dopper0189 on Sun Jul 08, 2012 at 10:52:15 AM PDT

    •  Excellent Comment (3+ / 0-)

      And yes, we ignored the local school boards in favor of worrying about who was going to sit in Washington, to the detriment of the educational quality of 1/3 of the children in the country.

      I agree that the midwest is showing us all the way - if we are smart enough to follow.   I still have a huge warm fuzzy over Wisconsin.  -)

      •  Agreed--have posted this warning time and time (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        shanikka, Denise Oliver Velez, JanL

        again here:  local school board candidates being elected under the false promise of "fiscal responsibility,"  who have a very specific agenda to "dismantle public education."  They are slithering in at the very lowest level, and infecting all levels well below D.C.

        One got on our local board, and amazingly was pressured to resign once her true agenda became apparent.  What was really scary is that she looked and acted just like Sarah Palin.  Shudder.

        If the plutocrats begin the program, we will end it. -- Eugene Debs.

        by livjack on Sun Jul 08, 2012 at 12:01:37 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Grover (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SparkyGump, shanikka, basket, jacey, JanL

    In a just country, he would tried for sedition.

    He has called for the disruption and dissolution of government.

    How much do I hate this treasonous bastard of a troll?

    I would gladly bark the orders to a firing squad if he was their target.

    How many people have died or died before their time because of the power and influence he wields?

    The fires of hell are not nearly hot enough for Grover.

    •  I think we need to start using exactly that word (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      oxfdblue, basket, shanikka

      and make it start sticking.  Grover Norquist is a seditionist.

      It's been so long since someone attempted this crime against country, it seems no one is willing to pull it out of the dust.  But I think it is time to do just that.

      If the plutocrats begin the program, we will end it. -- Eugene Debs.

      by livjack on Sun Jul 08, 2012 at 12:05:25 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  just read a comment by LaPage (6+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ferg, shanikka, Calamity Jean, jacey, JanL, marina

    the part I found interesting was

    According to the House Ways and Means Committee, the IRS will be adding 16,500 new auditors, agents, and other employees to “investigate and collect billions in new taxes from Americans.”
    when you read the linked article, it quotes that report from the idiotshouse committee but leaves out the rebuttal
    "That is a made-up number with no basis in fact," IRS spokesman Dean Patterson said in an email. "The 2012 budget calls for about 1,200 employees for the IRS to implement the (Affordable Care Act), and the vast majority of those employees are needed to build technology infrastructure to support payments like the new tax credits for individuals and small businesses."
    Gads, what great reporters we have
    •  Same strategy as Mitt's. Lie. (0+ / 0-)

      Mitt is only following the house's and before them, the t-party, and before them, FOX.  The GOP has figured out that with all the budget cuts to actual news reporting and investigative journalism, essentially destroying it, there's not enough people left to do it.  

      What's new is that that they've figured out that if you lie frequently enough, they can never really know what's going on.  AND, if you make the lie a good headline, no stenographer/reporter is going to hesitate to use it!

      Would we be so happy to have a military that dwarfs all others combined if it was a line item deduction on our paychecks next to FICA."

      by Back In Blue on Sun Jul 08, 2012 at 10:04:54 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Glad to see you posting (5+ / 0-)

    ... on the FP.  Worthy opening salvo (unless I missed one - entirely possible, that.)

    Grab all the joy you can. (exmearden 8/10/09)

    by Land of Enchantment on Sun Jul 08, 2012 at 11:08:41 AM PDT

  •  Very good article. (6+ / 0-)

    Our local government is making up their budget shortfalls by raising our property taxes; three years in a row now. I'm disabled and my wife hasn't received a raise in five years. We're simply running out of money. We're economizing as much as we can but it's not enough.

    Instead of handing money to people who are already rich hoping the trickle down on us, we should be investing in our infrastructure and education. It's a shame when we build schools in Afghanistan and fire teachers in Ohio or when a kid in France has a better shot at college than a kid in Texas. America's middle class is disappearing while Norquist and his republicant stooges are making more money than ever.

    And they have the gall to call themselves patriots.

  •  Elect Obama & Democratic House & Senate 2012 (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    shanikka, JanL

    Yes, local and state elections matter. Republican governors and mayors cut taxes in good times in order to cut services in bad times. They especially enjoy throwing teachers out of work and trashing the economy in this presidential election year.

    But the federal government is the only game that matters this year, because if R's win, it will not matter what local governments try to do. Only Federal action can stimulate the economy enough to End This Depression Now! (Krugman's newest book, great exposition of Econ)

    BTW, Moody's probably wants to downgrade state and local bonds to push up the interest that bond holders get, there's been a lot of whining about low interest rates from bond holders. Feel free to give them public comment to the effect that changing their rules is political, and perhaps rating agencies who made such a mess of things recently need to be regulated, especially in their rating of government debt.

    That might give them a moment's pause.

    •  All of the Above (3+ / 0-)

      I don't agree that the federal game is the "only one that matters."  But for the foundation for catastrophe laid at the state level, what the federal government does or does not do could have only limited impact comparatively speaking.

      I agree with you though that Moody's is doing what it plans to do to make money.  That doesn't obviate the bonus of muddying the waters of understanding though.  I like your idea of encouraging people to take the opportunity it has given us for public comment, though.  Folks should take those opportunities wherever possible.

    •  Teh Stupid is giving me a pain in the nads... (0+ / 0-)
      BTW, Moody's probably wants to downgrade state and local bonds to push up the interest that bond holders get, there's been a lot of whining about low interest rates from bond holders.
      So, first off, why should Moody's give a damn what interest rate bond holders get?  They are a rating agency and the measure of their performance is the percentage of bonds with each rating that have credit events.

      Secondly, you really don't understand how bonds work, do you?

      A down rating doesn't get higher interest rates for existing bond holders - they already bought the bonds and their interest rate is locked in.  What it does is it reduces the market value of those bonds, potentially losing the bond holder money if it choose to sell its bonds before maturity.  Now, why would bond holders want that?

      Finally, if you think Moody's is somehow captured by bond buyers (strange - after all, it gets paid by issuers) then you have to explain how it would be captured by future buyers (who would like higher rates and lower prices) versus current bond holders (who would prefer credit upgrades so they could sell their bonds early and capture gains.)

      and perhaps rating agencies who made such a mess of things recently need to be regulated, especially in their rating of government debt.
      So government will regulate the companies that rate government debt.  I am sure that will increase confidence in the credit ratings of government bonds!  

      The actual result would almost certainly be a decrease in the confidence of buyers in the ratings of government bonds, thereby increasing interest rates for bonds with high ratings and moving their rates closer to those for bonds with low ratings.

      You really don't know much about this market, do you?

  •  Excellent diary... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    ...even though I may be more inclined to see less of a national role than I think you're suggesting. Cities so need to ride through this mortgage crisis to its miserable end. Some cities will die and then there will be renaissances. Stockton was poorly managed and there are probably more Ca cities that deserve to go broke and evolve how they want to live and spend their hard working citizens' dollars besides on developers and bankers.

    The banksters have been gaming municipal budgets for years and that needs to be addressed.

    Everything else seems to come back to health care and retirement funding. We need a single national solution replacing the inequitable and inefficient mish mash of unions, trades groups, employee benefits, and have nots. State and city budgets can adapt to demographics and regional economies but no entity can survive the out of control rising health care costs from individuals to public employee retirement plans.

    The issues that scream for national reform, IMO, are social insurance - health, retirement, disability, unemployment - and energy. The rest - police, firefighting, education, utilities - are local. Remove uncontrollable health costs from public and private budgets (e.g., Medicare for All, single payer) and the systemic problems are mitigated, huge variations in equity are removed from the equation reducing bias against taxes, and there's breathing room.

    50% of my NJ father's relatively secure fixed income goes to health care (regardless of his Medicare) and the other 50% to property taxes.  NJ is a great state in many ways, far better situated than most, and they pay for it with the highest total state taxes, which is a good thing, but my dad is a typical home owner...Boomers won't need Norquist to convince them not to want to pay 50% of their retirement into state taxes.

    The good news is that our problems  - corruption and resource allocation - are easily solvable, we have all the money and resources we need. We just need the will.  

    Eliminate the Bush tax cuts Eliminate Afghan and Iraq wars Do these things first before considering any cuts

    by kck on Sun Jul 08, 2012 at 12:15:41 PM PDT

  •  Thanks for the info, mission accomplished for evil (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    The radical Republican party is the party of oppression, fear, loathing and above all more money and power for the people who robbed us.

    by a2nite on Sun Jul 08, 2012 at 12:20:12 PM PDT

  •  San Bernadino using eminent domain... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BikingForKarma, shanikka, TerryDarc take underwater mortgages - I'd love to hear your thoughts on that when you get a chance (WSJ, SFGate, LAT)

    Eliminate the Bush tax cuts Eliminate Afghan and Iraq wars Do these things first before considering any cuts

    by kck on Sun Jul 08, 2012 at 12:21:54 PM PDT

  •  Great, great piece. As a local gov't worker (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Eric Nelson, shanikka, where4art

    in CA, hits close to home.

    BTW, add a 12th to your list: Mammoth Lakes, CA.

    The most violent element in society is ignorance.

    by Mr MadAsHell on Sun Jul 08, 2012 at 12:26:41 PM PDT

  •  what it's actually like in jeff. county ,alabama (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    friends have told me how every dmv there requires multiple hours of waiting just to renew one's tags. even california isn't quite that bad,  and we have more people in LA than live in the entire state of bama.

    in jefferson county, a security guard told me about a school that was shut down due to budget cuts, then mere weeks later the school was stripped for copper wire, and the a/c units on top of the school were stripped for parts.

    it's like zombieland in alabama these days. they charge taxes on groceries there in order to keep property taxes near nothing.

    been here, left, and might come back.

    by BikingForKarma on Sun Jul 08, 2012 at 01:24:12 PM PDT

  •  Great Front Page Post. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Eric Nelson, shanikka

    More like it please.

  •  Ever since I heard of Grover... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    ...I've wanted to find a way to shrink him until he's small enough to drown in my Grandmother's silver thimble.

    "The Future of Man" [... ???] Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

    by dharmasyd on Sun Jul 08, 2012 at 03:17:19 PM PDT

    •  Couldn't We... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      dharmasyd, shanikka

      ...just drown his ass regardless of its size? (No threat intended, of course.)

      Time is an enormous, long river, and I’m standing in it, just as you’re standing in it. My elders are the tributaries, and everything they thought and every struggle they went through & everything they gave their lives to flows down to me-Utah Phillips

      by TerryDarc on Sun Jul 08, 2012 at 04:12:14 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  the single most effective tool for selling the (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    shanikka, Forward is D not R

    idiotic govt shrinking BS has been talk radio on the national and local levels. norquist's pledge enforcers are on the radio. he couldn't have done shit without RW radio.

    b ut there is  still NO organized coordinated movement on the left to address the radio problem.

    This is a list of 76 universities for Rush Limbaugh that endorse global warming denial, racism, sexism, and partisan lying by broadcasting sports on Limbaugh radio stations.

    by certainot on Sun Jul 08, 2012 at 04:03:17 PM PDT

    •  There's a reason for that and you know (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      what it

      The right is much more likely to push propanganda as their corp masters pay handsomely for doing so.

      Whatever the Foxteapublicans say, the opposite is the truth.

      by Forward is D not R on Sun Jul 08, 2012 at 04:56:06 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  control and money's their ultimate goal but radio (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        largely pays for itself now, after the initial subsidized monopolization

        RW radio is their most important tool for getting what they want and it's basically free and problem free because the left ignores it.

        This is a list of 76 universities for Rush Limbaugh that endorse global warming denial, racism, sexism, and partisan lying by broadcasting sports on Limbaugh radio stations.

        by certainot on Sun Jul 08, 2012 at 05:42:16 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Wow, that's enough for a book ! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Forward is D not R, shanikka

    Can't quite go through it all in one scoop. But the bit I have read scared me already enough to study it over and over.

    So glad to hear your voice. Are you needed ? Yes. Badly.
    Thank you, Shanikka. Looking so much forward to follow you on the front page.

  •  This is a crucial, and often overlooked aspect (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Forward is D not R, shanikka

    of the progressive struggle. Great job, Shanikka, for shining a light on this.

  •  Republican Governors (0+ / 1-)
    Recommended by:
    Hidden by:
    Lost and Found

    In 2010, influenced by the Tea Party and its focus on fiscal issues, 17 states elected Republican governors. And, according to an analysis, every one of those states saw a drop in their unemployment rates since January of 2011. Furthermore, the average drop in the unemployment rate in these states was 1.35%, compared to the national decline of .9%, which means, according to the analysis, that the job market in these Republican states is improving 50% faster than the national rate.

  •  I recommend the context provided by (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    peregrine kate

    Bill Moyers Full Show: How Big Banks Victimize Our Democracy
    June 22, 2012 | Moyers & Company on PBS
    Matt Taibbi and Yves Smith discuss the folly and corruption of both banks and government. Also, Peter Edelman on fighting U.S. poverty

    It is all one universe. Just learning about Jefferson County and the ongoing disaster there as discussed as an example was so terrifying. And Peter Edelman's analysis of the real challenges if we don't pull together as a humanity of concerns.......well, check it out.

    Thanks for this diary.

  •  "the last ones left to turn the lights out" (0+ / 0-)

    And that's when they actually would leave the country, their locust bellies full.

    I don't think it's entirely accurate to say Republicans are against government, though. They're against good government.

  •  Glad to see your FB debut, shanikka, on a vital (0+ / 0-)

    topic. National politics are obviously important, and yet we must also attend to the increasing agony on the state and local levels. There are no safe havens in the long run.

    Besides--the debacle of 2010 also led to some terrible redistricting of federal districts, which in and of itself ought to have demonstrated how essential it is to elect strong Democrats wherever possible to the state legislatures.

    I'm pledging myself to be working on behalf of solid state-level candidates as well as for several key national campaigns.

    Thanks for this diary, and best wishes for many more to come!

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