Is America the Greatest Country in the World?

The first step to solving a problem is recognizing there is one.

Why did Forbes Magazine put Stockton at the top of its “most miserable cities” for two years in a row?

The Broken City of Stockton

The Broken City of Stockton

Stockton is home to the University of the Pacific, where jazz artist Dave Brubeck once studied; it is situated in the Central California Valley, with a strong agricultural economy in what has been called the nation’s most productive agricultural region; Stockton even has a thriving port built on a channel that comes inland from San Francisco Bay. It has locally owned banks that didn’t give out loans to people who couldn’t pay them back, and these banks even remained solvent all through the downturn. With all that is positive going for it, why is Stockton a broken city and why is it on the verge of bankruptcy?

There are those in the city trying to declare bankruptcy. In the Private Sector when a company goes bankrupt it can wriggle out of not only its its debt, but its pension obligations and perhaps this looks like an attractive option. Up until now municipalities have not been able to o this but Stockton spends $30 million a year to pay its pension liabilities, money going to workers who are now long gone.

What concerns Grandma is that it is the Taxpayers that are expected to fund this liability.

Here is a true story:

In late 2008 Grandma & Grandpa were visiting Stockton for a mobile gallery staying overnight at a motel. In the new morning Grandpa returned to the motel room with his eyes as big as saucers.  “The van is there,” he said, “but the trailer has gone.”  Criminals had cut the trailer from the van and stolen it in the early hours of the morning.

Grandma asks you to look at  Stockton as the microcosm that represents the macrocosm that is America today.  Is what is ruining America a strange kind of mindset that demands something for nothing?

The Picture Lady Home Products in the trailer were unique and couldn’t be found in Stockton. This had been established by survey.  Then, too, all the products had been photographed there was a full (in color) photographic record of the inventory in the stolen trailer. It should have been easy for the police (if they were doing their job) to locate the stolen goods. Grandma with the help of a friendly clerk had these photos put on the police Intranet.

Then she called the supervisor in charge of the case (theft of the trailer)

The supervisor didn’t bother to call back.  After several failed efforts to reach him, she finally got him on the phone. . Explaining the situation, she told him all he had to do was  go to the swap meets on the weekend where it would be easy to identify the stolen product – it was after all different.   This would lead him to the stolen trailer and the criminal.

“Can’t be done,” said the supervisor.

Grandma’s eyes narrowed “and why not?”

“I don’t work on the weekend.”

“Excuse me!”

Grandma was flabbergasted.  She was in the private sector working 24/7 which she had done for twenty years. She was also over seventy years old.

“I work only Monday through Thursday,” he said smugly.

So Grandma contacted the Stockton chief of police hoping that he would get his junior to do his job.

“I am so sorry I can’t help you,” said the chief. His tone indicated he was not sorry.

“You don’t have anybody handling stolen goods.”

“Not any more, Mam., they had to close the department,” he said. “Taxes are down.” It was a make wrong.

She was close to tears. Losing all that inventory was likely to close her business down.

She asked just one last question,” “As a matter of interest, what are your hours Sir? I have been trying to reach you also for a couple of weeks.”  (Not much luck, for she knew that after all this delay the inventory would be long gone)

“You can always reach me but only on a Tuesday to Friday,” he said smugly.  “I also don’t work on the weekend.”

City employees have a cushy job that is funded by the taxpayers contributions and they have this while they are working, but it gets even better after they retire. Municipal pensions are typically 50% or more of the salary they were earning when working. The average pension paid out per ex city worker per year (including those working for much less than a full career) is a generous $31,653; and then they also get Social Security after age 65.

Grandma tells this story because she wants you to see the similarity to the nation. With a lot still so much that is positive going for it, why is America on the verge of bankruptcy?  Is it the free-loaders that are taking America down? It seems to Grandma that the rich and the idle poor now both live off the efforts of the middle class producers.  Of even bigger concern is how long we and our children will enjoy freedom if too many of us have lost the will to work?

Take three minutes out of your busy life and watch this video: 


 Quote of the Week

“The first challenge to solving a problem is recognizing there is one.” Carla Sequist