Is the Political Class Economically Incompetent or Simply Bought and Paid For by the Elite?
By: Mike Shedlock
Dec 08, 2010
Inquiring minds are reading an interesting article in Forbes by writer Charles Kadlec regarding the Economic Incompetence of the Political Class.
The sovereign debt crisis now threatening Europe, as well as major American states and cities, discloses the sheer incompetence of a political class that has over-promised, under-delivered and squandered vast amounts of their citizens’ wealth.
Greece, Ireland, Spain, Portugal, California, Illinois, Los Angeles and Chicago are simply the poster children for what happens when elected officials engage in reckless and irresponsible management of their economies, their banking system or their respective government’s public finances.
California’s budget deficit has soared to $25 billion, or more than 25% of total spending. And, according to a recent study, the City of Chicago’s unfunded pension liabilities total $45 billion, or more than $40,000 per household.
Politicians may not be solely responsible for this fiscal mess. But they are responsible for using borrowed money to pay for current expenses until they had borrowed more than they now seem able to pay back.
The European strategy of enabling more borrowing while imposing austerity plans, including higher tax rates, on overly leveraged countries may prove counterproductive. Increasing tax rates slows growth, reducing GDP, employment and the tax base necessary to service the debt.
At some point, there is a risk that one or more European countries may be unable to avoid a de facto, if not de jure default on their debt, requiring a complete restructuring. And that creates the risk that the European Central Bank will be forced to bail out the political class by buying that country’s sovereign debt and devaluing the euro–hence the current weakness of the European currency.
The sovereign debt crisis now encircling Europe may well prove to be a preview of what lies ahead for the political class in the U.S. Like their European counterparts, they may be participants in an end-game in which capital markets force a reassessment of debt-financed government spending, especially on transfer payments, government pensions and wealth-destroying investments in bridges to nowhere, green energy and other government boondoggles with negative rates of return.
There is much more in the article so you may wish to give it a closer look. It’s very rare for me to completely agree with anyone but I find no faults in what Kadlec wrote.