Two years ago Chicago Tribune editorial board member Kristen McQueary was savaged by liberal critics around the country for writing that she wished — literally, critics claimed — for a catastrophic storm to wake Chicago up about its financial problems.
“The most evil op-ed writer ever,” wrote one critic. “Cheerleading for Katrina-like disaster to strike confirms paper’s bankrupt journalism,” tweeted state senator Lou Lang (D-Skokie). “Insensitive…racist,” wrote plenty of others.
Well, this summer’s hurricanes back her up.
Puerto Rico is going back to the drawing board on a plan to relieve it from its impossible debt burden. Hurricane Maria washed away any unrealistic hopes for creditors. As reported in Bloomberg last week, Puerto Rico’s federal oversight board has given the island about seven weeks to revise its financial recovery plan to adjust debts more realistically.
In Houston, Hurricane Harvey is set to reshape pension reform efforts. As reported by Forbes, those efforts potentially had included issuance of $1 billion of pension obligation bonds. Pension obligation bonds are borrowing to pay for borrowing — trading unfunded pension liability for bonded debt. Just another form of can-kicking, in other words. Illinois issued about $17 billion of them under Governors Blagojevich and Quinn. They are rarely sensible, and Houston’s plan to issue them is now on the rocks.
Cruel shocks sometimes have a mitigant, in other words — realism. Chicago and Illinois aren’t there yet.
McQueary’s critics, by the way, were either illiterate or dishonest. Her wish was obviously metaphorical and not literal. “I can relate, metaphorically, to the residents of New Orleans climbing onto their rooftops and begging for help” is what she wrote. “Envy isn’t a rational response to the upcoming 10-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.”
But for those who read it literally, I’ll share some inside details. I’ve already lined up my old colleagues in the vulture capital business to buy up all the broken down properties after the storm. We’ll rent them back to those unwashed ingrates at exorbitant rates. Not much needed for an advertising budget because Putin will be helping out on social media. Pottersville would never have been so great. Moohoohahaha.
–Mark Glennon is founder of Wirepoints. Opinions expressed are his own.