In a round the room conversation at the our house yesterday, we were discussing the latest round of proposed cuts to the fire department here and a statement came up that I thought a lot about last night.
We were discussing the possible closing of fire companies (and possibly stations) and one of the guys said that he was talking to another friend higher on the chain. They both agreed that things were getting bad. Morale was dropping below an all time low and the overall job satisfaction and desire was plummeting. One of the guys said that he was talking to another friend in Detroit about what had happened to them years ago, and that what was happening there was happening here and if things weren’t done to correct it, Memphis would be “just like Detroit.”
I wish I could say he was wrong. But I can’t.
Our tax base is dwindling as Memphis has become a victim of the welfare system. No one owns anything and hence, no one is responsible. Things are going along as if no one is in charge. And that’s probably correct. The few taxpayers that remain will eventually be tired of having to pay property taxes out the nose (Tennessee by law outlawed any payroll tax or income tax, and Memphis city has the highest property taxes in the state) and leave. When that happens, I only see it happening one way:
The city will collapse under it’s own weight. Tax revenue will shrink and in response the city will raise and levy MORE taxes on businesses, which will them leave. The city will virtually dry up. Crime and poverty will swallow up the remainder of those unable to leave. The Police and Fire Department will be cut to the bone as the city levies it’s heavy handed tactics against it’s own people, without first cutting their won salaries. The politicians will get richer but everyone around them will get poorer. This happened in France one time, and the arrogant and defiant Queen, Marie Antoinette said “let them eat cake.” The rest is history.
Those employees that have no marketable job skills will be trapped. Those with skills will flee to greener pastures or to other lines of work, never to return. Lay offs will claim those that can’t escape, furthering the cycle of poverty.
Fire stations will close, EMS will be so short staffed that it takes forever to see a response. Streets once guarded by the police will be reclaimed by the gangs. Those firefighters, paramedics, and police officers that remain will fight the good fight with no chance of help ever coming. There will be blood in the streets so deep you will need hip waders to get from your door to the parking lot. That is, if you can ever see the streets due to lack of basic sanitation and street repair.
It would be the most heart breaking thing ever seen. A city once hailed as the jewel of the Mississippi Delta will burn out, with no firefighters or police officers to stop it.
It would be like Detroit.
I can assure this, that those of us that remain will do what we can with what we have for as long as we can.
But even we have breaking points.