Saturday, 20 October 2012

Bedford Falls and Pottersville

Normally, I wouldn't say anything....I'd just read the story and move on.  This bothered me.

Ken Burns....the guy who produces various documentaries for PBS....came out in the last day....to voice up support for President Obama and his campaign.  I don't fault any guy for taking any position.

What Ken wrote about though....was this vision from Frank Capra's "It's a Wonderful Life", with Bedford Falls.  The alternate world that Jimmy Stewart fell into....was Pottersville.  If you remember....Bedford Falls got renamed because George Bailey wasn't there to protect the city.

America is headed to Pottersville....by Ken Burn's account....if you vote for Romney.

Once I read this comment of trying to use Bedford Falls in this context....it came to bother me.  So let's pause here to think over the wonderful Bedford Falls that could stay under the present administration.

They’d regulate businesses to the point that most would close down, and move off down the road to the next town.

Bedford Falls would have a crisis with the local banks because they might have money, but because of regulations...they really can’t loan money out unless you have outstanding collateral (zero risk is the hint here). 

Bedford Falls would be trying to lure energy companies to relocate into the town and provide set-up capital...only to find each company failing within a year and carving out the set-up capital as profit. 

Bedford Falls would tell you that 30 man-hours a week is the new full-time level (not forty hours). So you’d flip your employees over to 28-hour weeks to avoid any unnecessary new taxes that Bedford Falls created. 

Bedford Falls would have a problem in functioning beyond the mayor’s level. Out of the nine-man city council...the mayor just won’t talk to four members under any condition. So the mayor kinda runs the city by his orders. To be honest, Bedford Falls hasn’t had a real budget agreed upon by the full city council....in three years.

Bedford Falls has the highest pension level of any city in the state, but can’t possibly ever sustain that pension.  Folks ask stupid questions about this, but the city just says it can't fix it.

Bedford Falls has high priorities for the school and library in the city...to the point that it’s consuming a huge amount of the yearly revenue collected.

Bedford Falls has a great relationship with the union guys who run the garbage business, the sanitation business, and city operations.  They all see continual positive trends in cost, which the city always agrees upon.

Bedford Falls has empty houses, which the banks can’t get rid of, and they sit mostly empty.

Bedford Falls would like to fix it's budget situation, but it generally means raising property taxes on the wealthy folks of the town.  As the mayor says....you need to pay your fair share.  After two or three rises in the property tax over a couple of years....the wealthy saddle up and leave town.  The houses get flipped over....all losing money in the process.  No one in the mayor's office can explain why property values are sinking.

Yeah, Bedford Falls might have been a neat place to live years ago...but this modern-age Bedford Falls is Detroit, and it’s crumbling around the edges of society. End of story.

Ken Burns had one great four-star series back around twenty years ago.  Since then, there's one three-star series with baseball.  Otherwise, he hasn't done much of anything else worth talking about.  PBS keeps him active and I'd take a guess that they'd fund just about any documentary that he'd want to produce.  For Ken to pick up Bedford Falls and twist it around....well....he might want to think about America today, and just forget about Bedford Falls.  It was imaginary to start with, and it's still imaginary today.

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