A Cautionary E-Mail to My Academy Classmates

My last Blog (The Numbers Tell All) was in the nature of a warning to others in our Class about the nature of government overspending. This a cautionary tale of the California experience, with the hope that Classmates in other states may learn.

(I have no illusions about the federal government, which is even more profligate than California politicians. “After us, the deluge.”)

In California we are in extremis. Our component parts are similarly crumbling. Orange County declared bankruptcy years ago, Vallejo is in the throes, and San Diego and Oakland are hanging by a thread. Our Legislature has passed a bill (Not yet signed) forbidding other communities from declaring bankruptcy without the express permission of a Commission.

This bill was pushed by labor unions to stop the bankruptcy proceedings from abrogating union contracts, the proximate cause of the bankruptcy chaos. It can be argued (and rightly so), that, like GM, the fault was not in union demands but in management compliance with those demands.

Whatever, and whomever was at fault, we are where we are in California – and New York, and New Jersey, and Florida and…

In California, the lesson has still not been learned. We just had a $12 billion tax increase (the largest in the state history), and we are still running a $24 billion deficit. The Legislature is proposing still larger taxes. The state has lost 1.4 million taxpayers in the past four years, but maintained our population through an increase of immigrants, largely illegal and largely tax-eaters.

The Governor says of the $24 billion deficit that the illegal alien social programs cost the state “only” $4 billion – while he proposes cutting programs that cost far less. (Other estimates run as high as $10 billion.) However much, it ain’t chump change!

The political class (Governor and Legislature combined) tried to sneak another $16 billion tax increase in through the last Propositions – only to have their faces rubbed in it by the taxpayers – liberals and conservatives, alike.

The sun continues to shine in California, but the roads are pot-holed, the infrastructure (particularly the ancient water pipes in San Diego) are bursting. Every special interest – of whom there are many – is spending like crazy on TV to keep the necessary budget cuts away from their door.

Q: Why are we cutting the programs for the poor, and for the children’s schools?

  1. Because, as Willie Sutton famously said, “That is where the money is!”

Californians are not nearly so reflexively liberal as are our political class, and it is easy to find solid examples of where we are fiscally, and to a larger extent than given credit for, socially conservative.

What we are is generally tolerant. What we are not is stupid.

The root of our problem is in state legislative districts. They were drawn to provide safe districts for both Democrats and Republicans (Republicans always in a permanent minority), and no political party has taken an opponents seat in two decades! That leaves elected officials to do as they please without fear. Both political parties are happy with their permanent seats, and the money flows frum lobbyists without fear of anyone going “rogue.”

And, we are coming to a political system near you…

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The Numbers Tell All

Want the California problem in just a few numbers?

61% of all California government workers are unionized.

Last year, according to the Sacramento Bee newspaper, $10 million spent on political causes by the California Teacher’s Association, the California Correctional Police Association spent almost $4 million, and the Service Employees International Union Local 1000, more than $3 million.

The Governor says that the Democratic Party in California is just an adjunct of labor unions.

Even this Governor can get something right once in awhile.

From Reuters: “”We are a very strong organization in Sacramento (the state
capital). They like to talk to us a lot about our opinions on issues
they like to vote on,” said David Sanchez, president of the
300,000-member California Teachers Association, considered the most
powerful special interest group in the state.”