ON the night of Sept. 8, Gina M. Raimondo, a financier by trade, rolled up here with news no one wanted to hear: Rhode Island, she declared, was going broke...Meanwhile, the OWS movement has metastasized yet again and is now showing up as malignant in Providence.
After decades of drift, denial and inaction, Rhode Island’s $14.8 billion pension system is in crisis. Ten cents of every state tax dollar now goes to retired public workers. Before long, Ms. Raimondo has been cautioning in whistle-stops here and across the state, that figure will climb perilously toward 20 cents. But the scary thing is that no one really knows. The Providence Journal recently tried to count all the municipal pension plans outside the state system and stopped at 155, conceding that it might have missed some. Even the Securities and Exchange Commission is asking questions, including the big one: Are these numbers for real?
“We’re in the fight of our lives for the future of this state,” Ms. Raimondo said in a recent interview. And if the fight is lost? “Either the pension fund runs out of money or cities go bankrupt.”
I've spent a lot of time on this blog pondering what it must be like to live in Greece where the government has bankrupted the nation through hopelessly generous social spending and public employee pay. How is it possible that the populace is rioting for yet more money when they've already spent everything they've got and all of the future's money, too? How does the human brain handle that cognitive dissonance?
Wonder no more, my friends, because the Occupy Providence movement is here to answer that question. That link takes you to their website. For the life of me, I can't make heads or tails of the thing. It's worth popping over to it and spending some time clicking around. Please let me know if you see anything even resembling coherent demands. To me, it looks like a transcript from a particularly politically-obsessed sleepover by a bunch of 14-year-olds. It's like a posh private school's Model UN gone very, very wrong.
If Occupy Providence is any guide, the answer to the Greek conundrum is just about what it seems. Decades of compassion have divorced the population from reality to the point where they think they can vote themselves money - the primary business of the nation is politics. When the money spigot gets shut off, their only answer is political action.
Good luck with that.