The drama is over. Our nation’s reputation remains intact albeit a bit tarnished by the default debate that ended earlier this week.
Those of us familiar with the recent modern history of Chelsea understand something about default.
The day before Chelsea was thrown into receivership at the start of the 1990’s, it had come to the point where it couldn’t pay its bills, or salaries for its teachers, its police officers or its firefighters. That was for starts. Had the city been allowed to go forward, it would then have defaulted on nearly every check it issued.
The city had mismanaged and misspent itself into the ground to the point where it could no longer pay its bills or meet its fiscal responsibilities.
In fact, the city’s politicians had acted so poorly and so without an eye toward the future that nearly everything having to do with the city government had come to be tarnished by the actions of its elected public leaders.
Everything that had to do with the city of Chelsea and its economic life had become polluted by the stale political actions of its leadership. In the end, the city collapsed. It went a bit beyond default.
The state put Chelsea into receivership in order to save the place and to make the government right.
The recent national debate about whether or not to default on our financial obligations to others as a nation is something many of us familiar with the economic and political history of this city can understand.
The United States escaped default but our leaders acted pitifully. The debate was over party and policy. The debate over the issues was entirely lost.
The nation’s reputation was held hostage until our reputation reached a point where it was almost entirely ruined. This has been proven by the continuing collapse of the stock market and the lack of faith in the future being shown by America’s most prominent business leaders and corporations.
When Chelsea went down, it put an end to the social, political and economic bankruptcy we faced as a city.
The sick system was replaced. The scoundrels were put in jail. The city’s economic ship was righted by breaking contracts that could not be paid and by redoing the city’s charter.
Chelsea today stands as an example of the way a municipality ought to be run.
The city is not facing default. Politics at its worst has been replaced by honest camaraderie among everyone working for the city and those elected by the people to shepherd the place.
The city has entirely remade itself during the past 20 years.
The national government so close to defaulting on its obligations could learn a thing or two about what it takes to clutch victory out of the jaws of defeat.
The default debate was an embarrassment but it was symptomatic of something much more sinister.
The national government is failing us.
The question isn’t whether or not we are going to default as a nation.
The question is when.
Joshua Resnek is the editor of the Chelsea Record.