I just love reading columns written by Robert Reich. In case you don’t know who this is, he was the U.S. Secretary of Labor under President Bill Clinton and is now a professor of public policy at that great bastion of liberalism – the University of California at Berkeley.
Most of you reading this are probably thinking that I have lost my mind and are wondering why I enjoy his columns so much. Well, here’s why I enjoy his columns so much. It’s because every time I read one of his it gives me so much to comment on and makes my columns so much easier to write.
His latest musings are about Detroit filing for bankruptcy and in his opening paragraph I thought that we would actually finally agree on something. He wrote that “It (the bankruptcy) could also be seen as the inevitable culmination of decades of union agreements offering unaffordable pension and health benefits to city workers.” I thought that he was finally seeing the light and I eagerly read on only to be disappointed.
From that very frank (and correct) observation he then turned his attention to the premise that “Americans are segregating by income more than ever before.” Now, mind you he didn’t blame anyone but Americans themselves and this statement in and of itself is factual and honest. So, I’m still not finding anything to disagree with but he just couldn’t help showing his true liberal roots when he proposed a way to fix Detroit’s problems.
His answer? Change the boundary that defines the city of Detroit to include the affluent suburbs and make them help pay to fix the problems of the city. So his solution is to make someone else pay for the problems they didn’t create because I guess it’s the “right” thing to do? Has he never heard of the word “accountability”?
And, if he thinks that the greater Detroit area should pay for the city’s problems then would he also extend that reasoning to say that the state of Michigan and even the rest of the United States should also pitch in to help? I think that’s what the rest of us are most afraid of at this point in time because Detroit is just the first of a whole line of big cities that are in trouble for many of the same reasons.
I, for one, don’t want my tax dollars going to bail out a government entity that has overpromised and underdelivered on their obligations. It’s bad enough that the federal government is spending money that it doesn’t have but do we also have to tolerate cities and states doing the same? I guess that’s a rhetorical question because it’s already happening around the country.
Mr. Reich writes about how the middle class fled the city to go to the suburbs. Now, why do you suppose that’s the case? It was probably to escape urban crime and overcrowding and to move to a better community in which to raise their families. Can you blame someone for wanting something better for their families?
I know that this is an unfortunate scenario but why does he think that people who live in another town should now be forced to pay for the obligations of another city? I’m pretty sure that the folks who live in the suburbs pay taxes in their own city and if they do go into Detroit they pay sales taxes. So why should they also have to pay additional taxes to “bail out” someone else’s problems? Do you think that maybe the city of Detroit should fix their own problems and not rely on someone else to pay for their mistakes?
The saddest part of all this is the workers whose pensions are at risk. It’s not their fault that the city didn’t live within its means. They were just doing their job and expected the city’s leaders to do theirs. Unfortunately those leaders failed.
I guess the lesson to be learned is that there is always a price to be paid and you can’t go on forever spending money you don’t have. Unless of course you expect someone else to pay for your excesses which seems to be the common thought among our more “enlightened” liberal thinkers.
Thank you, Mr. Reich, for making my job this week a little easier. But, I am scared that we have way too many people in this country that will read your column and actually agree with it.
Kevin Wilson writes a weekly column for the Daily News.