Friday, March 16, 2012

What Kind of Country, or "This American Life Presents..."

With the downturn of the global economy in 2007-2008, Americans were quickly faced with fiscal austerity decisions in their local and state governments. With less money on their books, cities like Trenton, NJ and Colorado Springs and, yes, even old homesteads like San Francisco and San Jose were forced to acknowledge  new realities that they could no longer afford the same kinds of services and benefits that were once routine. While cities, counties and states - and eventually even the federal government - grappled with technical tweaks to revenue streams and budgets cuts, residents began to confront expectations about what their governments could and should be doing. By the time we were fighting about healthcare reform in the US, it was apparent that these issues were digging at something deeper - questions like what is government, and what is the public community that we live in? Who belongs in it? What do we want from it? What does it want from us? We all began arguing about political philosophy (though not always well).

In a recent episode "What Kind of Country", Public Radio International's "This American Life" explored what these question mean to us through three stories from the across the US of how reforms have, and sometimes haven't, taken residents where they hoped.

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