The unsaid. During the Bloomberg Administration the “Budget Summary” document had included summary tables that showed how much money was spent on each agency for wages and salaries, how much for pensions, how much for other benefits, how much for interest, how much for lawsuits, how much for other non-personnel costs such as contracts and supplies, and how much of each function is funded by the city, and how much by other layers of government.
Last year DeBlasio provided that table for his budget proposal, but not for past years. But I was able to make a comparison with that table from prior years and write this post.
Paul Theroux is a travel writer and novelist. I was introduced to his work decades ago by a colleague at the Department of City Planning, who knew of my interest in trains and transit and other countries. I read several of his early books: The Great Railway Bazaar, The Old Patagonian Express, Riding the IronRooster. He branched out from trains, walking the whole coast of Great Britain in The Kingdom by the Sea. Theroux has been all over the world, and in particular all over what had been called the Third World, and then the Developing World, and more recently the Global South, generally mingling with and writing about the ordinary people there, but also meeting with writers and intellectuals like himself.
Now age 75, he did something recently he had never done before: wrote a travel book about his own country, Deep South. The book, for me, provided several big surprises. In light of recent events I’ve included extended excerpts and other commentary below. It’s a long post I suppose, but not to those of us who read books.
Who will you be voting against this November? That’s really what it comes down to, doesn’t it? The fact is, however, that this poor choice has been a long time coming. All you have to do is look down a level, or two levels, or three levels in politics to see that there is no there there, and the rot has now reached the top of the ticket. You see the same rot at the state and local level, in business, in the non-profit sector. It is the rot of a self-serving generation or two, now running the show in its own interest. And the United States is facing a Presidential campaign that will likely be a rehash of the social issues of Generation Greed’s youth, rather than an honest discussion of the diminished realities it is leaving to those coming after. In public policy, in the economy, even in many families. Scapegoating is likely to be the only discussion of this reality anyone hears about. The candidates will likely prefer to talk about something, anything else otherwise.
For decades my rule of thumb has been don’t vote for any Republicans at the federal level, on generational equity grounds, as since 1980 the Republican Party has been waging a financial war on everyone born after 1957. Don’t vote for any Democrats at the local level, because they are controlled by the producers of public services – the public employee unions and contractors – whom they have continually enriched at the expense of increasingly less well off consumers of public services. And don’t vote any incumbents of either party holding office in the State of New York, which is the worst of the worst. Is there any reason to change?
It is once again time for a major federal election, and I am once again doing my best to avoid listening to the nonsense being spoken by the Presidential candidates. I have not watched any of the past debates, and based on what I hear don’t want to watch any future debates either. Despite our nation’s challenges, the candidates are promising to hand out more goodies, and promising the people who would benefit would never pay for them. Bernie Sanders claims that everyone can have everything, and the only people to pay would be the rich. Ignoring the fact that the Bush tax cut for the rich has already been repealed, and we are still facing a national fiscal disaster. Republicans are once again promising tax cuts for the rich, and promising that the only people who would face sacrifices would be the poor and those in younger generations. The same people Republicans have made worse off in federal policy for the past 35 years, with no acknowledgment of that fact.
Only Donald Trump speaks as if he realizes how much worse off the younger generations following in the wake of Generation Greed actually are. But he doesn’t really explain it, almost certainly doesn’t understand it, and instead panders by creating scapegoats, blaming the Chinese, Mexicans and Muslims for all of the nation’s problems instead. The way the poor, immigrants and those living in older central cities were blamed 20 years ago. And he promises that all people have to do is elect him, and the unsustainable consumer debt-driven phony economy that floated his casinos, before they went under, will somehow return. None of this has anything to do with anything any of them actually would, or could, do if elected. So rather than listen to what they say, I have once again tabulated some federal budget data to what the federal government has actually done over the past 35 years-plus. To see how the choices of the past have affected our real future.
“The unexpected rise of a self-avowed socialist and a bellicose billionaire who can’t seem to shake supporters no matter how outrageous his comments have the Republican and Democratic establishments worried. One notable moderate, business tycoon and former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, is concerned enough that he is reportedly exploring the idea of jumping into the race himself.”
But unless Bloomberg were to say and do something completely unexpected, such a candidacy would be little more than a one-man ego trip. On policy, “maintain the status quo” is hardly a winning battle cry for an outsider candidate, one likely to attract little if any grass roots support and to bring few if any new people into the political process. Meanwhile those in on the game will always throw their support behind those mostly likely to win, the two major party candidates, to protect their prerogatives. As things stand Bloomberg would have a hard time matching the impact of former independent presidential candidates John Anderson (1980) and Ralph Nadar (2000), and would have no chance of matching the impact of H. Ross Perot (1992).
The Trump and Sanders campaigns are symptoms of a diminished future that has now arrived as a result of a 35-year party by Generation Greed. These men cannot explain it, don’t offer a forward-looking alternative, and do little other than identify scapegoats and promise that the party can resume if they are elected. The same may be said of the other candidates. But unless Bloomberg is willing to talk honestly about the future those age 55 and younger have woken up to, he might as well save his $billions and stay home.
In September 2012 it was reported that the death rate was rising, and life expectancy falling, for middle-aged White women who had not completed high school. In March 2015 a subsequent study showed that life expectancy was falling for middle-aged White women in general, as I discussed here.
Now a new study has found a surge in mortality, and thus a decrease in life expectancy, for all White people age 45 to 54. All of these studies have been greeted with shock and disbelief, but they are no surprise to me. I predicted this years ago. This is just the tip of the iceberg, and sooner or later people will have to face the fact that what is happening isn’t about gender, or education, or race, or middle age. Those age 45 to 54 today are the first generation of Americans to be worse off economically than prior generations had been at the same age. The generation that was in childhood when the divorce and single parenthood wave hit, and thus the first to be affected by it. The first of a series of generations that have been disadvantaged in public policy. The first of the generations to follow in the wake of Generation Greed.