By Tom Kando
Polls predict that most of the six ballots measures on which we (at least some of us) will soon vote, will be rejected. Proposition 1F is the only one likely to pass. That’s the one which will punish elected officials, by denying them salary increases whenever the state budget has a deficit. Fine.Things are tough. The global economy is in the toilet. California is in some ways worse off than many other places. Our economic conditions are aggravated by the fact that we cannot govern ourselves. People are mad, and so they are going to vote against anything, no matter what. Or they won’t vote at all. Anger is the only thing people know. They blame politicians. Why not? You have to blame someone (although I prefer to direct my wrath at Wall Street, AIG, and corporate gangsters like Bernie Madoff).
Reminding the electorate that California’s problems are systemic and structural is like whistling in the wind. For one thing, we have this asinine two-third majority requirement. 47 of 50 states pass their budgets by simple majority, but California requires a super-majority. And most years that process doesn’t work. Additionally, California governs by referendum. Year after year, the electorate is asked to make momentous decisions. Without realizing the consequences, the electorate passes ballot measures such as prop 13 which freezes property taxes, prop 98 which freezes education funding, and so forth. And after decades of such thoughtlessness, the State has painted itself into a corner. Its legally mandated commitments far exceed its receipts, even during the best of times.
The problem is simple: the electorate wants to have its cake and eat it too. It wants all the services, but it doesn’t want to pay for them.
So, at the risk of re-stating the obvious, let me remind you why it would be good if the remaining propositions also passed on May 19: Because without them, the state deficit will be even larger, i.e. it will grow from $16 billion to $22 billion.
Without going into the details of Propositions 1A, 1B, 1C, 1D and 1E (check out http://www.voterguide.sos.ca.gov/ for a summary), let me sum up by saying that some of them would require a modest amount of “revenue enhancement.”
But the electorate has been brainwashed by America’s plutocracy (a.k.a. the Republican Party, Wall street, the Chamber of Commerce, the Business community) into knee-jerk opposition to ANY tax increases. An overwhelming majority of public opinion now agrees that when a state budget has a deficit, the solution must consist ENTIRELY of cuts in spending, NEVER of revenue enhancement.
But where is it written that our taxes are too high? Where is it written that a modest increase in taxes will hurt business? Have people compared the quality of life and of public services in low-tax countries and jurisdictions with those in countries and places with higher taxes?
On May 19, the electorate will take another giant step towards starving the beast (the state, the government). As a result, there will be a further deterioration in services (education, health care, corrections, law enforcement, transportation, etc.), more hardship for the millions who depend upon the state’s safety nets, a further decline in California’s overall quality of life.
I am sorry to have to tell you this, folks, but politicians aren’t the problem. You are. Keep it up. Soon California will be a Third World place similar to most countries south of the border.
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