If you want to know how ingrained the dumb is within our government and the “right wing” (including the so-called “Tea Party” that utterly refuses to face the mathematics of what they’ve done), look at this:
HOUSTON – Hailed as the “Eighth Wonder of the World” when it opened in 1965, the Astrodome now sits vacant and in disrepair out on Interstate 610.
The world’s first domed sports stadium lost its last major tenant eight years ago. It hosted occasional functions afterward – a family rented the floor for a bar mitzvah party for $15,000 – but has been virtually shut down for two years. Its exterior metal work is rusting. Water stains surround the base.
It’s no longer up to code.
“It’s just sad,” Harris County Judge Ed Emmett said. “It’s beginning to look like an old ship that just kind of washed up out there.”
Harris County pays about $4 million annually just to maintain and insure it. The debt totals about $40 million on a project that cost $31.6 million to build.
If you think this is somehow unique, you’re wrong. We have an example of it right here in Niceville. The Mid-Bay Bridge, built in 1994 at a cost of $67 million, will have more than $350 million in debt laid upon it.
The traffic levels have been declining every year. And why wouldn’t they – the tolls keep increasing!
Our schools here pulled the same crap. You may remember my Ticker on the attempt to raise sales taxes “temporarily” to replace roofs and refrigerators in school buildings. We defeated it and I was leading the charge, getting a column published in the local paper. Why? That’s simple, really.
The refrigerators and roofs in question have a design life that is known when they’re installed. Prudent fiscal management dictates that you set aside funds every year in a suspense account against the replacement cost as the fractional (annualized) portion of the total known future expense. The school system did not do this, instead spending the funds elsewhere, then cried “poor mouth” when the expected cost arose right on schedule.
In a private business management would get fired over such an act. A fiduciary could be jailed for this sort of intentional mismanagement. Yet these people are fiduciaries of the people’s money, and they got….. their salaries and continued employment.
Now I’m going to challenge you to something that I bet not one reader in 100 will do, but until you do arguing that you’re a member of the public that votes for and argues for fiscal responsibility (e.g. a member of the “Tea Party”) will be met with a demand for strict proof that you have done so on a state, county and local level.
I want you to take a critical look at some of your local bond issues. Find one for a road, a sewer system, whatever. Pick a project – a street resurfacing, for example – where debt has been issued “on the come” for future tax revenues to cover it.
Look closely at the expected lifetime of the improvement to the infrastructure and compute out the total amount of tax revenue over that design life linked to the project.
You will find in virtually every case that there are insufficient funds to retire the principal on the debt. In other words, your state, local and county officials have all set up intentional pyramid schemes.
This is a Ponzi structure and it is why the promise of “we’ll pay those bonds off and then the toll road will be free” never materializes.
Now tell me – why haven’t you shown up at those county board meetings and been writing articles for the local papers demanding that these people be ejected from office and led away in irons for their raw abuse of the public – that is, their willful and intentional misconduct and the lies that they are “funding” these “improvements”?
I’ll tell you why: You believe in unicorns that crap out colored candies, irrespective of your claim otherwise. This crap is in our schools, it is in our pension plans, it is literally everywhere and it is absolutely unsustainable and mathematically bankrupt in each and every case.
Wake the hell up folks – it is exactly this sort of crap, played out over all levels of our economy, that has led to this chart:
Our economy cannot recover until we both admit what happened, take responsibility for our part of it, whatever that part was, and most-importantly stop doing it.