Some of you might be keeping track of the economic trouble in Harrisburg, PA. It is something like a Shakespearean tragedy. The city is more than $300 million in debt. Why? Because of an incinerator. Fans of irony take note. They bought an incinerator, leveraged it massively, and then then "financially" incinerated the city. I think that they are in worse shape than Bangladesh. The former, long time (Republican) mayor Stephen Reed is reportedly in receiving counseling for "spending addiction". People might (and should) go to jail because the last few loan infusions were done basically to pay the people who were trying to get the city out of the mess. The special debt ninja that they brought in to fix everything resigned in a fiery impromptu news conference on the steps the capitol and is now hiding out doing bird watching. (I only wish I making this up!)
Here is the Planet Money broadcast from NPR:
It should, I guess, shock no one that today the new Mayor, Linda Thompson, announced that Harrisburg's budget will only increase by 2% next year. Cut spending? Guess not.
Harrisburg is a microcosm of what is happening in our nation. We are playing Russian roulette with debt. We have stopped believing that the borrower is a slave. We are pretending that overspending can go on permanently. We need our chain yanked. As a Headmaster, of a small Christian school, I have to manage people that manage money. I have felt the sting of bad decisions. We receive much help through donations and support. We know, however, that bailouts come with a price. If we are behind, we have to make hard choices and cut spending and make things work. That is painful, but the pain helps us to grow up. Right now, as a nation, we have decided to prolong our adolescent behavior. This sort of pushing things back through bailouts and the floating of debt has a price. The price is slavery! The slow train is coming. It speed up every day that we do nothing. It could have been stopped easily twenty years ago. It now has so much momentum that stopping it might kill or maim us. We (as a people) have our foot crushing the accelerator. The train keeps moving faster. We enjoy the breeze in our hair and imagine that our children have a future.
Classical education (and the study of history) are tools of sobriety that are so needed right now. Simple basic economic truth, logic, and math would be a helpful study. At the root of the problem, however, is the fact that we have forgotten our God and that we are denying our responsibility to future generations. Our love for them has grown cold. We want what we want now and to heck with tomorrow. This is the definition of immaturity. Slavery is its eventual price tag.