"Things are getting worse in San Bernardino. The city filed for bankruptcy earlier this year, but its financial situation has continued to deteriorate. And now with what promises to be a heated court battle over payments to the state pension fund in the offing, further cuts are likely.
"Things are getting so bad that at a recent city council meeting, the city attorney advised residents to 'lock their doors and load their guns' because the city could no longer afford to keep up a strong enough police force."
Consider also this Reuters story from Greece:
"For hours the leader of the Greek journalists' social security fund had been chairing a meeting about disastrous losses on retirement savings caused by the country's economic collapse. 'She tried to present herself as the fund's savior and asked (members) to double contributions to 6 percent of salaries,' said one of those present that night at the Titania hotel. Spanopoulou, 58, did not succeed.
"When she rose to leave around midnight, enraged fund members first swore, then waded in punching, kicking and tearing at her clothes, according to witnesses. A bodyguard managed to bustle her out of the room, but another group caught her just outside the hotel and gave her a second beating. She spent the night in hospital.
"It was a brutal sign of the fury many Greeks feel at the way the country's debt crisis has dashed hopes of a comfortable old age. Greece's pension funds - patchily run in the first place, say unionists and some politicians - have been savaged by austerity and the terms of the international bailout keeping the country afloat."
When governments cannot pay their current employees because they've gone broke paying pensions to previous employees (among other obligations), you don't get a "fiscal cliff," or even a bad recession. You get the unraveling of civilization.
That is how Republicans should present the stakes in the budget impasse when speaking to the press. So far, John Boehner has described the president's proposals as "unserious" and Mitch McConnell has let it be known that he laughed in Tim Geithner's face. Does either of those responses convince the average voter that something is at stake here beyond Republicans protecting their wealthy friends?