Times-Union eager to spread its recipe for disaster

By Calvin Palmer

An editorial in The Florida Times-Union calls for an end to the ‘too big to fail’ syndrome; hardly new territory for the Republican dinosaurs inhabiting its editorial board.

It’s the usual bemoaning of the fact that George W. Bush — wasn’t he a Republican? – poured billions of taxpayers’ dollars into financial institutions in order to stave off a collapse of not only America’s financial system but also the global financial system.

What would these myopic penny-pinchers have done instead – let Wachovia fail, AIG fail – and then watch other banks get sucked in and fail also?

It is a measure of how out of tune with reality these people are, preferring their political dogma even if it ends up in the destruction of the very economic system they hold so dear.

The Tea Party Set on the editorial board think nothing about the millions of people who would have had their lives ruined by a banking and insurance collapse. It escapes me how these ultra conservatives would have remained immune from the dire consequences. Their Palinesque mind-set did not think that one through.

All this free-enterprise rhetoric would be fine if it were not for the fact that The Florida Times-Union seems to be enjoying a similar perk of being too big to fail.

The readership of the newspaper is in decline and advertising revenue has fallen in the past 18 months. A well-run business would have sufficient resources to weather the storm, but Morris Publishing Group, the parent company of The Florida Times-Union, is in debt to the tune of $417 million.

That debt means the free market is exercising its influence and The Florida Times-Union is failing. It is not difficult to understand why when it peddles a daily diet of Republican propaganda and is so hopelessly out of touch with a large section of its potential readership.

But it cannot bemoan the government bailing out the banks and General Motors, while the banks are effectively doing the same for them by not calling that massive debt in. No doubt that is different in they eyes of The Florida Times-Union.

The newspaper, a slight contradiction in terms, would also appear to employ more than its fair share of buffoons. Only the other day, columnist Phil Fretz was telling the City of Jacksonville how to run its affairs in order that he and others like him do not have to pay one extra cent in taxes.

Fretz said:

 “I’ve never run a business. But I’ve worked for them my entire adult life and that’s given me some insights that somehow seem to have eluded the mayor and the council.”

Some of those insights must have come during his time at The Florida Times-Union, so he has witnessed business practices that have run up a $417 million debt.

The worth of Fretz’s advice is on a par with getting sailing lessons from the captain of the Titanic.

He has also seems to have forgotten the adage “You can say nothing and let people think you are stupid or open your mouth and prove them right”.

I have watched countless NFL games but I would not have the temerity to offer any advice to a coach as to how he should be running his team.

Fretz certainly lives up to his name. He is continually fretting about having to pay tax and thinks city councils and government can keep providing the same level of service without ever raising taxes.

In the ultra-conservative parallel universe he inhabits, obviously inflation does not exist.  But Fretz could not care less if, in the absence of tax increases, the city council has to offer a reduced level of service; his newspaper has been doing that for years and just look where it is — $417 million in debt.

It behoves The Florida Times-Union and Phil Fretz to get their own house in order before dispensing advice on how government, at any level, should run its affairs.

In a civilized society, it is an indisputable fact that taxation is necessary to preserve and enhance the quality of life for each and every citizen.

Fretz and The Florida Times-Union would appear to know the cost of everything and the value of nothing.

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