You Can’t Rely On Anyone in the Aftermath of Generation Greed
From the New York Times: “Harry Nespoli, president of the Uniformed Sanitationmen’s Association, said the problems late Sunday underscored how the city could not rely on outside contractors to help with snow removal and other jobs in such storms, particularly during a holiday weekend. ‘You can never count on the privates, because they don’t have to show up,’ he said. ‘What obligation do they have? The mayor can’t order them out. The commissioner can’t order them out.’” From the New York Post: “Selfish Sanitation Department bosses from the snow-slammed outer boroughs ordered their drivers to snarl the blizzard cleanup to protest budget cuts -- a disastrous move that turned streets into a minefield for emergency-services vehicles, The Post has learned… ‘They sent a message to the rest of the city that these particular labor issues are more important,’ said City Councilman Dan Halloran (R-Queens), who was visited yesterday by a group of guilt-ridden sanitation workers who confessed the shameless plot.’”
Now let’s get one thing clear. There are no Sanitation Department budget cuts. There are no cuts in most agencies, except for the usual suspects like parks, libraries, the Administration for Children’s Services and public higher education. If there was, taxes would be going down, and no one is suggesting that. What is happening is a huge shift of resources from people providing services today (public or private) to debts run up by Generation Greed, and retirement and senior health care that they had promised themselves but chose not to pay for (or, in another factor, cut a deal to retroactively enhance). And this is just getting started.
So what are people to expect? I’ve written about this here before. Less and less, you will be able to expect the police to protect you, or the fire department to rescue you, even as you pay more and more in taxes for police and fire. The share of New York City children who receive an actual education had temporarily gone up, but will go way, way down since the NYC teacher pension plan is among the most underfunded in the country – and the retired, the near retired in seniority jobs, and the bondholders have first dibs one whatever money can be extracted from the serfs. Those “at or over 55” will get their hip replacements and take their cruises. Those coming after had best hope for medical marijuana followed by legal assisted suicide.
And anyone in charge had better be prepared to do nothing but take blame. Because only insiders will be in charge, and those insiders who want to stay in charge will hardly want to point the finger generally.
So people had better be prepared to make do and cooperate. Driving on the streets, getting stuck and blocking whatever plows were out there is not cooperation. Having everyone (or most people) get out and shovel is cooperation. Let’s not forget how much the actions, inactions and attitudes of millions of people – those with the greatest sense of entitlement – contributed to this. As for what to expect from social institutions, things have not really even started to get bad yet – though that may be approaching.
If you want to fix this, you’ll end up as frustrated as I have become, because this is not a technical problem. What we have is the legacy of Generation Greed, and Generation Greed is still in charge. We’ve had years of “from each according to their stupidity, to each according to their greed” and as the bills come due and more and more people refuse to pay them, we are heading for an institutional collapse. And what happens in such a collapse? According to a popular, half tongue in cheek presentation on the institutional collapse of the Soviet Union and a purported “collapse gap” that would make the U.S. worse off in similar circumstances, “We definitely should not expect any grand rescue plans, innovative technology programs, or miracles of social cohesion.” Well, people will either have to hang together or they will definitely hang separately. I wouldn’t be making the charges now appearing in the press without one hell of a lot of proof. But if what the press is saying about the response to this storm is an omen, it definitely is not good.
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