Sometimes Ira Glass Scares the Crap Out of Me

You guys listen to Ira Glass's This American Life? I'm a big fan, but sometimes, well...see the title of this post.
I listened to the most recent episode of TAL while I was working out the other day. The first part of this story was about the ongoing budget crisis in NY, my home state. Now, I'll admit I knew there was a budget crisis going on but at this point I, like alot of people I think, are so used to hearing about a state budget crisis that they kind of become like background music.
Then I listened to Ira....

Apparently, we here in NY are the proud owners of budget deficits that will reach 60 billion in the next 5 years and--best of all!--there is no plan in place to deal with this. None!  Experts are saying this crisis will actually be worse then the ones we saw in the 70's because we're currently living in a time when our economic reality is changing faster than our politics can change to deal with it. 

Basically, we're so locked into partisan squabbles and outmoded thinking that our politicians either don't see it or simply can't muster the political will to do the first thing about it. Cutting services if off the table. Raising taxes is off the table. Doing anything that may hand the other side a victory is off the table. So what do they do? A time-tested mixture of nothing and the occasional budgetary trick that papers over the problem so we can get from one year to the next while solving nothing. Yippee!


And the thing is, this isn't just going on here. There are similar issues going on in the federal government, in Arizona, in Illinois and California and Hawaii and any number of states. There are riots in Greece over similar issues.

I really try hard not to be alarmist, but in the last few months it seems like we've convinced ourselves that the worst of our national budget crisis is over, but is that just wishful thinking? Is there really a bomb ticking away in our future and we're just running full speed towards it? 

As you all know I wrote a post-apocalyptic book recently. I don't mean to be dramatic but it's hard not to think about that when I hear this stuff. Is this how we go down? Not because of a bomb or a virus or an asteroid from space, but because we sit twiddling our thumbs and looking the other way while our government grinds to a halt and then slowly crumbles around us.

It's easy to imagine a time in the near future when all of us are wearing some very puzzled looks on our faces as we realize that all the things we came to take for granted are gone because there's no money to pay for them. The police and the firemen are not coming. Your social security check is not coming. The schools are not open. The roads are not fixed. The water does not flow. Your drugs and your food are not inspected. The garbage and the sewage does not disappear as if by magic.

We think it can't happen here. We think we're above things like that. We're the USA! But that kind of thinking invites complacency and disaster. It begs for it.

If you listen to the second story on the show you hear the tale of what happened when the island of Barbados had problems like this. What did they do? Like the good adults they were, management joined together with labor and they hammered out a fair deal that made things a little tough on everyone equally for awhile while they did things to improve their situation. They're booming now. 

So I guess what I'm asking is, are we not capable of the same?

What do you guys think? We've never gotten political before so please assume that everyone has the best of intentions and is not an evil Commie/Fascist and comment away. 

I would also be more than happy to hear that I'm out of my mind and everything's going to be ok! Talk me down out of this tree if you can! Please!