San Bernardino, CA, isn’t where I grew up, but we lived there for 12 years, my kids grew up there, and we have a lot of friends and good memories in that city.
The city’s collapse over the past year didn’t surprise me, based on the problems it faced and was trying to navigate when we lived there. The economic collapse brought on by the bursting of the housing market bubble in 2006-07 hit San Bdo particularly hard.
What’s especially outrageous is the degree to which the people most deeply harmed are the vulnerable people the government policies were ostensibly intended to help. No government can indefinitely provide the high level of direct public assistance and expansive government employment, epitomized by San Bdo, without running the risk of failure when the private economy can no longer support it.
Now the politically connected groups who control the system of government in California have set out to make sure they and their members are financially covered, regardless of the damage inflicted on those who count on a functioning city government. It’s ironic when the powerful government often seen as vital for the common good turns out to be another system for people with power to extract wealth from others.
It’s a bleak future in store, as W. R. Mead so evocatively describes the situation there: “Interest groups fighting over scraps in the ruins—this is where the blue model leads.”