All politics is local — even wars halfway around the world in Iraq and Afghanistan. The point comes home with force as we watch our elected officials at every level grapple with a third year of massive budget deficits that are forcing drastic cuts in public services, sharp increases in fees and taxes where they can and causing tense conflict with public employees who face loss of their jobs or reductions in wages, pensions and benefits.
It isn’t a pretty picture, and next year and the years after are certain to be even uglier.
The causes are many.
Sweetheart contracts with public employees who now feel entitled to what they won at the bargaining table in the form of lucrative pensions, retirement at early ages, heavily subsidized premium health care, even shortened work weeks for some.
The economic meltdown triggered by reckless government policies and practices by Wall Street and the too-big-to-fail bankers who cashed in on our obsession with material things — even if we couldn’t afford them, even if they were all made in China and drained our society of its wealth.