Sunday, December 26, 2010

What's Ahead in 2011?

2010 was not all bad, by any stretch.

Probably the best news of all was that problems that have been swept under the rug(s) for generations have now surfaced and are regular conversation topics. It is now quite apparent that the Western economies' love affair with entitlements may be coming to an end. They now know, as they should have known earlier, that there is simply no way these entitlements are affordable. That discussion is now front and center. That's good.

Public employees are finally coming under scrutiny as virtually every one of the 50 states in the United States faces bankruptcy under the weight of the benefits that have been promised to these public employees. Teachers, for one, have long been showered with guaranteed job security and extremely generous pension and health care benefits. All of these public employee benefits are now in play. Unions are in the middle of this because almost all of union organizing successes in recent years has been in the public employee sector. Unions are not really a factor of any significance in the private sector, since everywhere they have had a major presence, the companies have gone bust.

This is all good news, because failure to notice the impending disaster of entitlements and public employee largesse was moving the US and its 50 states into certain bankruptcy. Now, there is truly some hope. No solutions, but hope.

Other good news is that President Obama seems, at long last, to have awoken to the fact that his economic policies are a serious impediment to economic recovery. The tax agreement forged between the President and Senate Republicans was a foolish package, but better than the alternatives. For the first time since January, 2009, there was some recognition in that compromise that business matters. Finally!

So, there is hope that 2011 will be a better year than 2010. There will be continual reminders as 2011 unfolds that virtually every Western European nation will eventually default, in some manner, on their public debt and that several states in the United States are headed in the same direction. But, bankruptcy can be therapeutic; bailouts are never therapeutic.

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