An Open Letter to California
We have a special election here in California on Tuesday the 19th. We all have to go to our polling places, and decide whether Propositions 1A-1F–which were put on the ballot by the legislature–will be accepted. Of those propositions, 1F, which denies pay increases for elected officials if the state’s budget is all higgeldy-piggeldy–is the only one worth passing.
The rest of them amount to nothing more than allowing the legislature to loot the revenues from things like the lottery or child health programs, that the current law prevents them from touching. But the legislature wants to loot those programs, so that it can use the money in the general fund, instead. And, the general fund certainly needs something. At this rate, there is an excellent chance that California will be out of money by July. That means no money for teachers. No money for the DMV. Or the CHP, or CDF. The state will be, well, broke.
So, who do we blame for this, California?
Some people, Like Tom McClintock, the former Republican state senator and now Congressman, blame Arnold Schwarzenegger. Indeed, McClintock says that Schwarzenegger lied to the people of California when he ran against Gray Davis in the now-famous recall election. “He promised to stop the crazy deficit spending, cut up the credit cards, live within our means. And he did exactly the opposite. Schwarzenegger increased spending faster than we saw under Gray Davis.” McClintock, of course, was one of the people who ran against Schwarzenegger during that election.
(By the way, a side note to Rep. McClintock: Barring an act of divine providence, the sun will set in a blazing red sky to the east of Casablanca before you ever become governor. You may be a great guy, for all I know, and truly committed to reducing the size and scope of government. You may be popular in little the red-state enclave that makes up your Congressional district. But the electorate at large is not going to send someone with your crazy, helter-skelter eyes to the governor’s mansion.)
But should we blame Arnold for this mess? After all, he promised to reform the budget process, and ensure that California would never, ever be in the position that Gray Davis left us in, with a massive budget shortfall. And yet, he did. In fact, the animating issue of that recall election was Davis’ proposed increase to the car registration fee, which would make the annual regiatration fee average something like $600. Now, Schwarzenegger is supporting pretty much the same thing. So, it’s certain that the Governator has been a failure.
But, you know what? I don’t blame him, California. I blame you. Not every individual one of you, of course. By “you”, I mean the electorate as a whole. We aren’t in this position because Arnold changed his mind about reforming the budget process. He did, in fact, put sweeping changes to the process before you for approval in a series of ballot propositions in a special election.
And you told him to go f*ck himself.
Not only did you kill his reform plans by sizeable majorities, you then proceed to approve nearly every state bond issue that reared its ugly head. More money for schools? No problem. More money for the CDF? Let’s borrow it. More money for a shelter for developmentally challenged kittens? Might as well slap that on the card, too.
You listened when the Service Employees Union, the California Teachers Association, and the AFSCME union for government workers told you that if we attempted to reform the budget, disaster would ensue. We’d have to slash thousands of jobs for teachers, firemen and cops. Those of us who weren’t lucky enough to be murdered in our beds or die shrieking in horrific pain as our bodies were engulfed by flame would be able to look forward only to a life shameful unemployment due to our abject ignorance, cowering under the heel of our new Chinese overlords. You believed them they told you, “education spending is being cut, and our children are suffering,” despite the fact that, while the school age population has been declining, education spending since 2003 has risen from $45 billion to $54 billion. That’s a 20% increase, at a time when school enrollment was falling.
So, when the special interests or politicians asked to spend or borrow more money via ballot propositions, you told them to go right ahead. “Spend away, Sunshine! Let the good times roll!” And that’s exactly what we did. It seems never to have occured to you that the only way the government can spend money is to take it from the economy–that is to say, you.
So, now, the state’s got nothing left to spend. But, by your votes to increase spending, and to reject any reform of the budget process, that’s apparently what you wanted to happen.And since the state has no other way to get money, Sacramento is reaching onto your pocket yet again. So, when you get that $600 bill for vehicle registration renewal, see the prices of goods get higher as the sales tax goes up, and watch your state income tax bill rise, you need to just smile, suck it up, and be a man. After all, that’s exactly what you asked for.
Now you’re getting it.