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February 25, 2013

DOOM: Heavenly shades of night are falling, it's twilight time


There was a time when Detroit was the very epitome of America, a scale miniature of the larger country: vibrant, productive, assertive, brash, and above all, modern. It was the world capital for the manufacture of that most modern machine, the automobile. It served the best food, it produced the best music. Its industry was a beacon calling people, black and white, from far away. Detroit was a city that perfectly modeled the nation of which it was a part. That's still true. It's just that the qualities of the country it exemplifies aren't as uplifting as they used to be. So much that was right about Detroit went wrong right around 1967, and the city just kept getting sicker ever afterwards...and it was mainly due to a lousy Democrat-dominated political class that has persisted ever since. (Proof positive that where voters and politics are concerned, ideology will trump self-interest nearly every time.)

Speaking of Detroit: about half of Detroit's citizens don't pay their property taxes. This isn't purely a cases of people being deadbeats; many Detroiters aren't paying their property taxes because the city isn't providing services. And why isn't the city providing services? Because the city is broke and can't afford them. The city has also over-assessed a lot of the real-estate in the city, relying in records that are now years out of date. Detroit has projected tax receipts based on what they thought all that property was worth, and predictably, their assumptions were way, way off.

I've spoken before about what an empty, politicized term "middle class" has become. It says nothing about how people really live, how much money they make, or what their social situation is. Democrats use it in purely class-warfare terms; Republicans use it in an archaic sense that hasn't been true for forty years at least. It means nothing, but politicians cling to the term out of a kind of atavistic fright. The no longer understand the world or the forces that shape it -- theirs is a fear-response to try and claw back a world that has passed on. (Monty's view: "the good life" is a state of mind, not a bank-account balance.)

Many former students (in this case, a veterinarian) come out of school owing the equivalent of a mortgage on a house, right out of the gate. In many cases, the student's earnings do not justify the costs of higher education -- the lost time and huge debt inflict a hit to a person's earning power that in some cases takes decades to clear. In many cases, it would be better to work a lower-wage job right out of high school; the net pay over the next ten to twenty years would still be higher. People who come out of school owing a huge amount of money also pose risks to prospective mates, which can hurt their chances at forming a family or even having stable relationships. A high debt-to-income ratio isn't simply a fiscal problem -- it's an emotional and social one as well.

If I were to give young people one piece of advice that I sincerely hope they take to heart, it would be this: Don't make going to school a career.

Nick Gillespie at Reason puts some hard truth to the young 'uns: "Hey, kids: Tonight you're young, tomorrow you're unemployed."

Europe's politicians will still put on a brave face and declare that the worst has passed as far as the financial crisis goes, but privately, they know the truth: nothing is fixed. In fact, the situation is slowly but surely getting worse. It not so much death by conflagration as by slow strangulation. And in the end, much of this can be laid at the feet of the reckless, smug politicians and "experts" who started the ball rolling so long ago.

ObamaCare and the '29ers'.

Moody's to Great Britain: BAM!

You want your scary chart-fu? I got your scary chart-fu right here.

The pension fund that ate California. A long piece, but it does a great job at explaining why California is so boned...and why effective solutions are going to be so hard to find.

President Obama angrily denounces his own idea. His Majesty the King finds it inconvenient when his previous statements are used against him.

detroit cat by cjames

"Detroit Cat" by ~cjames on deviantart.

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posted by Monty at 08:11 AM

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