Almost every night on local TV there's another story about the dire fiscal condition of Los Angeles city, accompanied almost always by various employees or union officials protesting loudly against anything like layoffs to cope with the budget crisis. Mayor Villairagosa has shown much more in the way of trying to instill a sense of reality than I thought he had in him. He called for laying off 1,000 workers last week and is saying this week that it might require 2,000 more layoffs. (I'm fascinated that there are as many as 3,000 people working for the city government in the first place and suspect that most of them make work for each other more than they "serve" the public.) But the desire for denial is strong. In many ways it resembles Washington DC, an Sacramento, where almost all the officials blithely proceed with spending plans as if the respective capitals were not alrady beyond broke.
It strikes me as symptomatic of a declining empire. As the structures of the institutions crumble about them, the officials find ways to pretend none of it is happening and they can maintain their extravagant ways forever.