I am not normally a fan of plugging NYTimes stories, but this one has to be read. Danny Hakim has written a terrific article laying out the plight of cities and counties in the state of New York. He recounts one story after another of impending municipal bankruptcies. In every case, the cause is the same -- bloated public employee expenses -- mostly public employee retirement and health care.
Normally in recessions, the costs of running government agencies slows down since there isn't any reason for employment costs to rise. But, not so with pension and health benefits. They rise astronomically regardless of the economy.
This problem is not confined to cities and municipalities in New York. California faces the same situation for almost all of its large cities and counties. Many other states are in the same boat, especially where unions have major political clout -- Illinois, for example.
So, for those who think Europe has problems, just relax. European debt problems are coming to your neighborhood soon and for pretty much the same reason -- absurd expenditures on retirement and health care programs.