Thursday, July 24, 2008

California DeathWatch (Part Five)

They are beginning to reap the whirlwind out in the Golden State -

"...administration officials, who asked to remain anonymous, said that about 200,000 of the state's 245,000 workers, both hourly and salaried, will see their pay trimmed back to the federal minimum wage of $6.55 an hour, saving the state up to $1.2 billion a month. Dropping the temporary and short-time workers will save an additional $28.5 million each month..." -'Governor plans to slash state workers' pay,' San Francisco Chronicle

"...Facing a billion dollar and growing pension deficit, City officials have traded away road repair, water security, and fire prevention to pay employees more to retire than to work..." - City Attorney Analysis, City of San Diego Structural Budget Deficit

"...California lawmakers' inability to pass a budget on time is threatening the cash flow of health clinics that are funded by Medi-Cal and serve some of the state's poorest residents..." - 'Budget impasse threatens Medi-Cal clinic funding,' The Mercury News

Reslience Check

California may wind up being a significant test case for the development of "resilient communities" as a result of the coming debt default tsunami. I am unfortunately pessimistic that we'll see much resilience. The current system is "brittle" in the sense that significant portions of the population rely on direct government assistance. When the cash flow stops, the ability to deploy capital to creating a "resilient community" will dry up as well. RCs may be the wave of the future, but in a crisis, most people tend to sit on their hands and their money and avoid risk.

Fighting to completely change your community and reframe it in a sustainable mode will go up against:

  • Powerful public worker unions that want tax-paying types of development to pay their salaries and benefits
  • Entrenched laws and mindsets geared towards suburban development, strip mall construction, light service industry type of communities and these laws and the associated boards and commissions that enforce them, won't play nice with efforts to expand permaculture into abandoned property or construction of rainwater collection systems that work outside the municipal water system or efforts at biogas production or large-scale composting of wastes
  • Local violence as various gangs lose their cash flow from drug sales and turn to petty crime to fill their coffers
  • Hope will remain that "normal" will return, that the old lifestyle of big homes and big cars and big salaries will return "after this economic correction plays out" and so most won't want to fight city hall or the their local homeowners association to completely restructure life as we know it

California will lead the way. Let's hope that's a candle in the darkness we see, not the approach of an oncoming train...


Harleydog said...

They say everything starts in California and travels east from there. This is a massive shoe to drop that no one is talking about.

Hope all is well.


Flagg707 said...

Yeah, you are correct. It is going to be ugly and there are exactly zero easy solutions here.