All politics is local — even wars halfway around the world in Iraq and
Afghanistan. The point comes home with force as we watch our elected
officials at every level grapple with a third year of massive budget
deficits that are forcing drastic cuts in public services, sharp
increases in fees and taxes where they can and causing tense conflict
with public employees who face loss of their jobs or reductions in
wages, pensions and benefits.
It isn’t a pretty picture, and next year and the years after are certain to be even uglier.
The causes are many.
Sweetheart contracts with public employees
who now feel entitled to what they won at the bargaining table in the
form of lucrative pensions, retirement at early ages, heavily subsidized
premium health care, even shortened work weeks for some.
economic meltdown triggered by reckless government policies and
practices by Wall Street and the too-big-to-fail bankers who cashed in
on our obsession with material things — even if we couldn’t afford them,
even if they were all made in China and drained our society of its
But the overriding cause of our national crisis is the
cost of war, the damage it has done to our national psyche, the stress
it has placed on our economy.
Ten years of unceasing war has
caused tragic loss of life and pain to many, including the men and women
who serve in our armed forces, and sent our national borrowing soaring
to dangerous levels, much of the debt held by foreign nations like China
whose interests are not necessarily the same as ours.
and Republicans have stopped speaking the same language as if our fates
were not bound together, as if a nation divided against itself could
long survive without paying a terrible price.
The price is to cut
discretionary funding to the states and the poor. No less gridlocked by
ideology, our own state cuts funding to schools and confiscates funds
for local programs, hitting everyone hard.
All politics is local,
and that’s where the bills are coming due, even in relatively
well-managed cities like Burbank and Glendale.