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Ron Kaye: Being the solution, rather than the cause

April 07, 2011|By Ron Kaye

A few years back, a profile in LA Magazine described me as an “accidental anarchist” — a label that I never really understood until now.

As I look at what is going on in the nation’s capital, the state capital and in Los Angeles, I am starting to wonder how government ever worked at all.

In Washington, Democrats and Republicans are playing a game of “chicken” that is pushing the country to the brink of defaulting on our staggering $14 trillion in debt, a sum that grows by $125 billion a month and will reach the cap on borrowing next month.


That makes California’s mere $25-billion budget deficit seem like chump change, but the impact of Sacramento’s perpetual political gridlock and gamesmanship is big time in terms of dangerous felons freed from prison, tens of thousands of teachers fired, aging infrastructure deteriorating.

Cities like Burbank and Glendale have their own financial problems and are at least trying to develop long-term strategies — unlike the mega-city next door, where Los Angeles officials still believe in the fantasy that good times are just around the corner.

It isn’t going to happen.

We don’t generate wealth anymore. We consume it in the form of manufactured goods made in China and India and Argentina and dozens of other faraway nations.

We don’t create good jobs anymore. We create low-paying service and retail jobs.

For the last two decades, middle-class people of every race have been exercising their power to exit the L.A. region for better lives in communities with better schools and healthier neighborhoods, even as the cities compete ferociously to steal business from each other to bolster their own economies.

It is a futile exercise that doesn’t create more jobs. It only moves them around, leaving the regional unemployment rate far higher than that of the nation or state.

Nearly 10% of stores in malls and strip malls across the country are vacant as major retail anchors like Circuit City, Blockbuster, Borders and many others fall into bankruptcy and close their doors.

For the last decade or longer, many people have preserved their standard of living by living beyond their means with credit card borrowing and home equity loans. The bills have come due, resulting in vast numbers of people being under water on their mortgages and a housing market hopelessly glutted by foreclosures and short sales.

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