Stockton’s “moral deficit”

Steven Greenhut, the Sacramento-based vice president of journalism at the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity, says Stockton’s bankruptcy filing is immoral.

“Suppose you go on a spending spree, purchasing luxury items on credit such as a vacation home and new cars,” he writes in City Journal. “Part of you knows the good times won’t last forever. Nevertheless, you decide to buy things you can’t afford, convincing yourself that you need and deserve them. In the process, you make some investments that don’t pan out. When ends don’t meet, you go to the bank and take out loans to pay off your older balances. Now deep in a financial hole, you hit upon a plan to climb out: simply default on your new loans by declaring bankruptcy and propose that the court let you do so without selling off most of those new toys you bought.”

This comparison is simplistic. A free-spending person has only himself to blame. The city was fiscally devastated by the foreclosure crisis — which, incidentally, was caused in large part by Wall Street. A city also has statutory obligations to protect its citizens’ safety. A city with a violent crime rate in the top 10 nationwide cannot cut its police force to the point of anarchy. On top of that, it must, by law, balance its budgets every year. If the lifeblood of its core functions is going to debt, the debt must be restructured.

All of these factors are omitted from Greenhut’s invidious analogy. As is suffering. His free-spending person never pays for his foolishness. Stockton is paing dearly in everything from international ridicule to record homicides.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment

Post a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.

We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Rules. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or fill out this form.
  • Blog Author

    Michael Fitzgerald

    Mike Fitzgerald is The Record’s award-winning metro columnist. His column runs in the paper three times a week. Born in San Francisco, he was raised in Stockton. His column covers diverse beats including, sometimes, the offbeat. Read Full
  • Categories

  • Archives

  • RSS Related Content

    • Exit plan: Who wins, who gets skinned
      The bankrupt city of Stockton has gone public with its Plan of Adjustment - that is, who gets skinned for $1.1 billion in debt and who does not. […]
    • Stockton, asparagus now best of buddies
      Stockton celebrates asparagus now, but back in the 1950s, the San Joaquin County district attorney almost prosecuted asparagus growers for creating a public nuisance. […]
    • Tracking Stockton footprints of Muir
      No one has ever researched the subject of John Muir in Stockton - as odd a historical omission as if no one had ever researched Mark Twain in the Mother Lode. […]