“What’s new?” I asked Big Freddy as I joined him for coffee and whatever.
“What’s new is running for cover in Washington,” Freddy said. “It’s been coming on strong since the health care bill became law and they’re still trying to sort out how to pay for it. But it’s more than that.”
“I thought the economic downturn had been improving,” I said.
“Depends on who’s looking at what,” Freddy said. “Private incomes? It’s a mixed bag. Wall Street. More comfort areas.
“The haves have been doing better than somewhat, and the feds have been taking care of the have nots, but that’s changing.
“Wage earners are in the middle of the sink hole. There are more of them, and their purchasing power has been dropping steadily for the past six years.
“Cities and towns are making do as best they can in most cases, but they’re more dependent on state and federal government than they were when we were half our age. Most are struggling to keep up.”
“Budget overrides are never popular,” I said.
“Because cities and towns are where state and federal benefits and edicts hit the road,” Freddy said. “Laws are made from on high, but they have to be executed as required where we live.
“It’s like bad weather. Storms always come from someplace else but wind up tearing up a city or town thousands of miles away from where they came.”
“I take it you’re saying Washington’s the source of what we have to deal with locally,” I said.
“More than it was at the beginning,” Freddy said. “We send our choices for service in Congress to Washington. The unions, corporations, every organization needing a presence down there sends the best that money can find to do well for them.
“Don’t knock it. We have a representative form of government. No one ever said it could not send other than those elected to represent their interests, and no one claimed it would be cheap. They’re trying to either do, or to object to doing something that effects their interests.’
“Money can be a voice of the people,” I said.
“Yes,” Freddy said. “Voices include those of corporations because that’s how the Supreme Court ruled.
“Now everybody’s looking at how not to get along with one another in an upside down political stalemate in Congress at a time when we’re on a slide to nobody really know’s where.”
“So Congress ducks into a sequestration -- putting off until tomorrow what they couldn’t get done,” I said.
“Naturally,” Freddy said. “Politics are always about consequences, and what they’ve just done is to forego fundings that had been counted upon for forty years.
“It’s one thing for a mayor to cut costs in the city’s budget for services, and go head to head with unions over it. You have to ask why anybody would run for mayor, especially in big cities like Boston and New York.
“Talk about sticking your chin out with the unions to cut local taxes? Go talk to mayors who have done that.
“But what Congress has done is to pull the rug out from those dependent on Federal funding of Medicare.
“Among them? All hospitals. Coast to coast and border to borer.
“Health care? Health Care Less is more like it.”
Bill Plante is a Newbury resident.