Today's Coming Crisis Movie

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Debt Crisis? Bankruptcy Fears? See Jefferson County, Alabama

A few hundred miles north of here, politicians are fighting over debt. It is a spirited debate, full of discussions about what kind of country will be left for future generations and pledges not to kick the can down the road.

But one does not have to go far to see that possible future. Welcome to Jefferson County. This is the end of the road, where the can cannot be kicked any farther.

There are lessons for everyone here, and they are all painful: lessons for those who are not concerned about the prospect of mounting debt, for those who insist that steep cuts can be relatively painless, for those who think the bill for big spending can safely be put off into the future, for those who have blind faith in the market and for those who think the government can always be relied upon to protect the interests of the people.

All of these beliefs have led to a place where the government can no longer borrow and the little cash on hand is being demanded by creditors, where the Sheriff’s Department cannot afford to respond to traffic accidents and hundreds of county workers are sitting at home, temporarily or possibly permanently out of work. They have also led to a widely held conclusion among residents that no one is on their side.

“I get tired of them dumping on the little people,” said Deb Passmore, 58, who had to shut down her Laundromat several years ago when the sewer and water bills reached $500 a month. (more)