I and a lovely group of KTBB listeners just got back from a week touring London and the English countryside. Turns out our timing was good. Because absent a breakthrough in the next few hours as I write this, hundreds of thousands of public employees in the U.K, including customs and border control officers at London’s unimaginably busy Heathrow airport, are going out on a one-day strike.
Air travel in England will seize.
The issue: proposed changes to public employee retirement benefits. It seems that asking civil servants in the U.K. to defer retirement to age 65 is simply a bridge too far. Never mind that England, like America, is broke, is facing budget deficits into the indefinite future and is even more mired in recession than we are.
The fact that Britain doesn’t have the money to pay the retirement benefits it has promised is cutting no ice with its public employees. They simply refuse to hear it. The civil unrest earlier this year in Greece, the protracted fight over public employee unions earlier this year in Wisconsin and now a crippling strike in London during the holiday season all serve to illustrate a very important truth.
Once the government starts handing out goodies, it’s hard to stop.
Witness, then, America’s future. Since this time yesterday, the United States borrowed nearly $4.5 billion to pay for the goodies it has promised. No politician has the courage to stand up and say, “We’re going to have to cut back on the goodies.” Instead, debt commissions and super committees and double secret sub-committees will get formed in order to “study the problem” and “make recommendations” and propose “real, enforceable reductions in spending.”
But spending will continue apace and the government will borrow at this rate around the clock day after day until the day comes that no one will lend.
If you think shutting down Heathrow airport for a day is chaotic, wait until Uncle Sam maxes out the credit card.
Glad you made it back and missed the travel chaos to ensue.
I hope we can avoid becoming Greece or England or France or Italy, but it looks like we need a miracle.
Sometimes, one must fall to the bottom of a well and wallow in the mud before they finally wake up…such is the case with drug addicts and alcoholics before they finally wake up to the fact that they and ONLY they can stop the cycle of dependence. We, as a nation, are no different from the drug addicts and alcoholics out there. ONLY when we fall into that well and have to wallow in the stench we have made for ourselves, will we finally wake up and see that it is up to us to change. America has not reached the bottom yet, but it is getting there just as Europe has reached the bottom. How long they have to wallow in their misery is up to them. Here, we have a choice, just as a drug addict or an alcoholic has the choice to inject that drug or take that drink or not. There are instances where the addict or alcoholic sees the danger BEFORE reaching bottom and takes the proper actions to stop the destructive habit before reaching bottom. But for most, that is not the case. Are we, as a nation, going to recognize our destructive habit or are we going to have to hit absolute bottom before we wake up? It is OUR choice.