The time has arrived for Greece to pay its bills. Or not. The concept of public debt is like trying to give Godzilla a jaywalking ticket while he rages through Toyko. But to say Greece is alone in its overspending welfare state ways is wrong.
An island has 3.5 million people. Its public debt burden is $72 billion. By some calculations, that means every man, woman and child on the island owes the national bankers $205,714.29. The entire national annual budget is less than $9.8 billion. The public debt is 71.3 percent of the island's gross domestic product. Officials claim they have no money to pay down the massive borrowings.
But this island is not Greece, but Puerto Rico. How a small island can rack up such debt is insane, since it relies upon tourism and federal assistance as a commonwealth. High unemployment and increasing costs to import the essentials has started to drive people out of San Juan like refugees in a foreign war zone.
The bondholders are holding firm saying a sovereign can always repay its obligations by taxing its people. But if the people flee, there will not be enough left to pay the piper.
But Puerto Rico is just the last headline in an endless broken trail of public sector debt abuse. More than half of the States have serious public debt problems, many tied to unsutainable fat public official pensions with guaranteed payouts. In some states like Illinois, no one really has an actual number because of so many state, county and local government borrowings in near default. It could be $100 billion or it could be $200 billion. But the legislature continues to spend like drunken sailors, passing a $36 billion budget that is $6 billion short of balancing (even after shifting trust funds from other agencies to pay current operating expenses in an accounting stealth borrowing without accountability).
What are citizens supposed to do? Apparently, it goes back to the government's 1950s cold war solution to everything: duck and cover.
In the macro picture of The Real News, we begin to start a small re-design of the site. Today, we emphasize the current and past issues of the RN by listed quick links to the special pages or PDF documents. Please browse through the past archive issues. Older archive editions are still available at pindermedia.com.
In the micro picture of the RN, real work and an improved social schedule has created time limitations in content updates during the last month. But in the ebb and flow of life, adjustments will be made to keep up with our take on politics, current events and cyberculture. For example, there has been a crush of Republican bridesmaids rushing into presidential election cycle which has all the elements of a drunken English steeplechase horse race.
As this is being typed, Ski is contemplating what to do with a 20 pound frozen disc of dread - - - a Chicago style deep dish pizza. Why a bachelor would purchase such a gut busting family dinner? The single brain only sees food packages as single servings no matter the actual size. It seems it needs 45 minutes in a blast furnace to cook. Again, bachelors rarely read instructions or contemplate what they are getting themselves into until the matter of truth. That moment should have been nose to refrigerator glass at the grocery store. Adding to the perplexity of the situation is the odd disclaimer on the box that any leftovers need to be consumed in 48 hours. What happens after that? Does the pie remains congeal into an alien life form like a gremlin?
If that is the only problem one has this day, then most ladies would say put on your arc welder's mask and get cooking! There are times where men need to feed their primal brain cell with wild things, like fresh bison. This is not the modern equivalent of shooting buffalo from moving Midwestern passenger rail cars. But how hard could it be?
What is better on a stormy Sunday afternoon but to create molten cheese lava in your kitchen? It seems like the premise for some 15 minute of fame YouTuber. But who has the bandwidth or insurance coverage to go live and direct?
But back to the left hand column. In retrospect, there have been already five RN issues so far in 2015, which historically is an overzealous publication output for the first five months of the year.
Now, there are plans to update the Special Pages with more current news and commentary. There has been a flurry of strange, odd and weird stories in the news that need some cynical or satirical context. But the cynical tank has not been refilled in a while because of a New Year's resolution like be positive attitude toward life in general. But one cannot sit back when another high profile Illinois politician gets indicted, the state's impending bankruptcy is being juggled by the clowns who brought about this mess in the first place, or the hypocrisy of people lecturing us on how to lead our lives while they do the exact opposite.
There is never a shortage of new material. The only shortage is time. It seems like the weeks and months are flying by; you look up one day in March, and then the next glance it is the end of May. Everyone needs to make best use of their time - - - productive but even more important, more rewarding since work just to work is work. You need to work for a higher goal and bigger picture outside the grind and deadlines of the office. Life is a balance. A quality life has the best balance possible. It takes risk to get rewards. Trust is the variable that manages risk. One needs to trust themselves to make the best decisions for themselves. Don't manage the expectations others have for you; manage your own hope and dreams. Otherwise, you will find time has past you by.
So forward we go. The oven knob has been turned on to Sun. The dozens of note cards filled with story and cartoon ideas are piled next to the computer. George Carlin once said his personal motto was that everyone should have their own personal motto. This year's new personal motto has been solidified: No Excuses, No Regrets.6-7-2015
The stock market is a downward funk as it begins June in a swoon. Major league baseball attendance is falling faster than the stock market. The Arthur Andersen Enron scandal trial is coming to conclusion. Former major league baseball players are coming to the press with accusations that 20 to 50 percent of the major leaguers are on steroids. Everyday it seems a major corporation executive is leaving for "personal reasons" as the SEC, or Justice or NY Attorney General or some other subpoena hits the corporate mailroom. There is a large collective thundercloud above each of our heads. What is the connection?
FAIR GAME. Americans are all for fairness in games. There are to be defined rules. There are to be chances that either side can win. Fair and Square. Those perched on top of the business world, investment banks or major sports leagues have lost sight of this simple proposition as the headlines jackhammer away at their Ivory Towers. If people think sports contests that are supposed to be equal competition are somehow fixed or tainted by steroid use, then they won't come and pay hard earned dollars on a suspect outcome. If business leaders, accountants, and bankers cannot give investors or shareholders straight answers on how much money did the company make last year, then investors and shareholders will not invest any more hard earned dollars on a suspect company or offering.
FAIR PLAY. Just as fairness needs to be instilled into the institutions, the concept of fair play also must be a part of the American experience. If investors believe that insider CEOs are manipulating their own companies for personal gain at shareholder's expense, then that is not fair. An investor is the last to know, and usually gets left nothing when the company hits the skids or goes bankrupt. There is a creeping funk that investors believe that the stock market is now only an insider's three-card monty game, and they are the gullible suckers. Investors don't think they can get a fair chance at making a return on their investment, if the executives running the companies a) don't know how to run their companies; b) are overpaid by criteria that rewards mostly unproductive or unprofitable performance standards or c) are blindly robbing the cookie jar. The concept of fair plan is destroyed when the public referees, or checks in balance in the corporate system, such as the independent accountants and board of directors, are not watchdogs, but lapdogs in these schemes.
So the self-preservation streak of the average person has been jilted into high gear. While the financial service economy sinks, people are putting their money into things they can touch and own-- like houses, real estate, and tangible goods. The consumer is still spending because they have no other place to park their money for a rainy day because the collective thundercloud of scandal has been pouring a monsoon of bad news on us for months.