The harsh lessons of California

California is lined up, hands extended, palm up, imploring the Obama Administration to guarantee its debt –  a guarantee as inconceivable as state ownership of General Motors once was. 

 Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger projects that California will create a deficit of $23.4 billion over the next year, a deficit bigger than Georgia’s entire budget. Voters this month rejected higher taxes and borrowing from future lottery proceeds to fund current consumption, prompting California officials to go hat-in-hand to Washington.  More immediately, Schwarzenegger is proposing dramatic cuts.  He would, for example, eliminate welfare and would end non-emergency health care for illegals. He’d also whack the California version of Georgia’s PeachCare health insurance program for children in families with too much income to qualify for Medicaid.  He’s eliminating some future grants for college students,  ordering unpaid leaves for state employees, and giving one-year early releases to prison inmates who are not thought to be violent and are not identified as sex offenders.

Periodically news organizations or advocacy groups send delegations to other states or cities to take a look at growth, development, a new transportation project or housing developments. Those trips invariably lead to long accounts full of unwarranted self-criticism and place-envy to set up the question:  “Why can’t we be more like…?” 

A far more valuable trip would be to Sacramento and to other parts of California to examine the question:  Where does liberalism in governing take us?  In some cases, California is far ahead of Georgia in terms of the experiments it’s tried — in public initiatives, for example, or in setting caps on state spending.  (Proposition 8, which affirmed that marriage is between a man and a woman, was a public initiative.)  Georgia has never had public initiative and whenever the movement has started to get legs in the past, legislators resist, offering something weak and virtually impossible for voters to bring forth.  California once had real spending caps; the one voters rejected was more symbolic than real.  Georgia has never had them — and it should.

California also funds education almost entirely from the state level.  Bad policy?  Yes. It creates the expectation that somebody else is paying the tab.  It also tempts voters to exempt education from the usual spending constraints, as Californians have done.

Georgia is not yet a mature state.  There’s still time to fix our troubles before they develop.  Look to California for guidance.  Plan a trip.  What to do?  What to avoid?

180 comments Add your comment

Munch

May 28th, 2009
8:03 am

And yet again, Wooten ignores the seminal event that led California to this sorry state. The tax revolt of Proposition 13, led by the kind of know-nothing, I got mine yahoos who trumpet “Common Sense” over rational thought, has hamstrung the state government from having the capacity to respond to changing financial conditions.

Granted, the current crop of so-called legislators there – both Dem and Rep – seem to be happy with the situation, using it to cover their collective lack of spine. But make no mistake…what we are seeing now in California is the logical result of the Norquistian effort to strangle government in the bathtub.

(Much the same dynamic is underway in Florida, where the GOP stranglehold on state government precludes any meaningful tax reform.)

Mac

May 28th, 2009
8:12 am

California is drowning in riches. I drove from the Mojave, through the Tehachapi Pass and descended into a land of blue skies, bright sunshine, green fields, thriving orchards. And also in those orchards? Oill wells. This Georgia boy thought he must’ve been in heaven. During a six-month stay, I learned the people are smart, polite, conservatives and liberals in roughly equal numbers. And, I learned their local and state governments were largely broken. Too bad.

findog

May 28th, 2009
8:19 am

Dear Jim,
California is the poster child for why direct democracy does not work, not including the time of citizenship where toga’s and wine with every meal were the norm. Unfortunately Georgia is already there politically, if not legally. Our elected leaders do not lead, fearing the tar and feathers associated with taxes to pay for services, everything is done via constitutional amendment or user fees to give the cowardly political class of Georgia cover.
California is the fairy tale center where politicians learn to limber their spines so as not to have to bring honor to legislative seats. If you’re going there don’t waste your time looking at state government just visit Mickey…

Aquagirl

May 28th, 2009
8:28 am

Public initiatives (like prop 13) are often the product of irrational mob rule. They are subject to control by special interests. The founding fathers knew the dangers of democracy and chose a representative form of government. California is a sad example of what happens when you turn lawmaking over to Joe Sixpack. (Apologies to any beer truck drivers out there.)

Churchill's MOM

May 28th, 2009
8:28 am

Jim your link to the home page is screwed up AGAIN, why do I have to tell you evert day?

Redneck Convert

May 28th, 2009
8:36 am

Well, all I got to say is it’s a good thing Aquagirl apologized about insulting my customers. Have a good day everybody.

Copyleft

May 28th, 2009
8:49 am

California’s experience is a microcosm of what happens when voters pursue blind self-interest: “Give ME more services, but don’t you dare raise MY taxes to pay for them!”

Every voter instantly agrees that government spending is out of control, but when you ask them for specifics on WHICH programs should be cut, you’ll spot a surprising trend: “Cut the other guy’s stuff, not mine. Spending on THEM is wasteful; spending on ME is wise and necessary investment.”

This is why short-sighted idiots should not be driving important policy decisions. Oh, wait! We voted them out last fall! Whew.

Aquagirl

May 28th, 2009
8:54 am

I didn’t intend insult to Redneck’s customers; they’re more properly described as Joe Sixcase.

PinkoNeoConLibertarian

May 28th, 2009
8:56 am

Actually RedCon, she apologized not to your customers but to you and your fellow Saints of Suds Delivery. :)

DB, Gwinnettian

May 28th, 2009
8:57 am

Georgia is not yet a mature state

You can say that again.

Gale

May 28th, 2009
9:04 am

The CA state constitution was written to allow direct ammendments by the masses. No, it doesn’t work and they have muddled it to the point they will need a constitutional convention to rewrite it before they can unmuddle it. Oh, and the masses will need to ok that too.

Confused

May 28th, 2009
9:19 am

Is Jim actually saying something bad about a Republican Governor? Now I am really confused.

Mara

May 28th, 2009
9:22 am

I hate it when I agree with Wooten. Gah.

Hi Gale, Copyleft. :)

Munch

May 28th, 2009
9:36 am

Some perspective on the comparison of GA and CA…

State of Georgia 2007 GDP — $396.5 billion, which was 2.9 percent of the U.S. total

State of California 2006 GDP — $1.7 trillion, which was 13 percent of the U.S. total. If California were an independent nation, it would have the 6th largest economy in the world.

Che was a homicidal maniac

May 28th, 2009
9:37 am

Copyleft, if for once, you lived on your own and not in your moms trailer you’d understand that California is in major trouble due to big spending. Not private citizens. Moron

Che was a homicidal maniac

May 28th, 2009
9:39 am

Copyleft, also, you didn’t vote anyone out in California. Are you really that stupid?

California is run by democrats. Yes, Arnold is the governor but his policies align more with democrats. Hell, he married one.

alponso

May 28th, 2009
9:40 am

The California State Legislature currently has a Democratic majority, with the Senate consisting of 25 Democrats and 15 Republicans; and the Assembly having 51 Democrats and 29 Republicans. Except for the period from 1995 to 1996, the Assembly has been in Democratic hands since the 1970 election. The Senate has been in Democratic hands continuously since 1970.

Wonder what the problem is???

Munch

May 28th, 2009
9:51 am

Che and Alponso

Much as you would prefer this to be a Dems bad, GOP good scenario, you are way out of your depth.

If any one party had a 2/3 majority in both the Senate and Assembly, your “argument” might have some merit. Because any budget or tax increase requires that 2/3 vote to pass, thanks to amendments passed by know-nothing populists like yourselves. All it takes is a small cabal of posturing GOPers to derail any attempts to deal directly with the problem, as evidenced by the latest legislative session. On the other side, the Dems are happy to have the 2/3 rule so they can point to the GOP as the problem. Both sides are happy with the stalemate if only because it allows them to demagogue and get re-elected.

Yes, the government is broken, and each party bears some heavy blame for this. But the conditions for this failure were established by the public initiatives driven by the “common sense” citizen.

Che was a homicidal maniac

May 28th, 2009
10:01 am

Munch, facts are facts. TAXES ARE HIGH IN CALIFORNIA. COST OF LIVING IS HIGH IN CALIFORNIA. DEMOCRATS CONTROL CALIFORNIA.

On a scarier note, the San Diego government is now going after Christians who meet in their own private homes.

YEP CHAINS WE CAN BELIEVE IN!

Couple: County Trying To Stop Home Bible Studies

SAN DIEGO — A local pastor and his wife claim they were interrogated by a San Diego County official, who then threatened them with escalating fines if they continued to hold bible studies in their home, 10News reported.

Attorney Dean Broyles of The Western Center For Law & Policy was shocked with what happened to the pastor and his wife.

Broyles said, “The county asked, ‘Do you have a regular meeting in your home?’ She said, ‘Yes.’ ‘Do you say amen?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘Do you pray?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘Do you say praise the Lord?’ ‘Yes.’”

he county employee notified the couple that the small bible study, with an average of 15 people attending, was in violation of county regulations, according to Broyles.

Broyles said a few days later the couple received a written warning that listed “unlawful use of land” and told them to “stop religious assembly or apply for a major use permit” — a process that could cost tens of thousands of dollars.

“For churches and religious assemblies there’s big parking concerns, there’s environmental impact concerns when you have hundreds or thousands of people gathering. But this is a different situation, and we believe that the application of the religious assembly principles to this bible study is certainly misplaced,” said Broyles.

News of the case has rapidly spread across Internet blogs and has spurred various reactions.

Broyles said his clients have asked to stay anonymous until they give the county a demand letter that states by enforcing this regulation the county is violating their First Amendment right to freely exercise their religion.

Broyles also said this case has broader implications.

“If the county thinks they can shut down groups of 10 or 15 Christians meeting in a home, what about people who meet regularly at home for poker night? What about people who meet for Tupperware parties? What about people who are meeting to watch baseball games on a regular basis and support the Chargers?” said Broyles.

Broyles and his clients plant to give the county their demand letter this week.

If the county refuses to release the pastor and his wife from obtaining the permit, they will consider a lawsuit in federal court.

Munch

May 28th, 2009
10:15 am

Che, the point is that the Democrats DO NOT “control” California due to the conflicting restrictions imposed by the intitiatives.

Any more than you can control your inability to sort reality from wingnut fiction.

Copyleft

May 28th, 2009
10:16 am

I see the Maniac is now so obsessed that he’s stalking me from blog to blog!

Poke him and watch him scream, folks. It’s fun!

Ward

May 28th, 2009
10:18 am

The words ‘tax reform’ when coming from the Left always, ALWAYS means tax hikes. And when the voters say they’ve paid enough taxes already, the Left points their self-righteous finger at them, accusing them of ‘greed’ and ‘irresponsibility’ for wanting to keep more of their own money. Of course, the only GREED and IRRESPONSIBILITY here is the government refusing to live within their means and taking whatever they want to pay for it. No other entity can legally point a gun at your head and steal your money.

Che was a homicidal maniac

May 28th, 2009
10:28 am

Munch, I lived in LA for 8 years comrade. I know who controls what. Thanks for playing.

Copyleft, not stalking you just pointing out your idiocies. Funny how you didn’t debate any of my points. Interesting indeed.

Jackie

May 28th, 2009
10:31 am

Taxes in California are controlled by the Legislator having a rule that imposes a 2/3 majority rule for tax increases. The Repubs in the Legislature have said they will not vote for any tax increase, regardless of what impact it has on the state.

Secondly, the state has more than 100,000 prison inmates. The courts have said more than 50,000 of those inmates are in prison because of drug possession and/or the dreaded three-strikes law.

Third, the downward spiral for the state was perpetrated by the outright theft by Enron by charging outrageous prices for electricity. So much for the free markets.

California gives us insight into what happens when everyone complains about lowering taxes to cover the increased demand for state services. It turns out, the free market and their profit margins are too expensive for the pockets of the citizens.

Che was a homicidal maniac

May 28th, 2009
10:33 am

Munch, liberal democrats control California. They make policy and set the budget agenda for the state. Ahhhhnald is not a conservative republican. Never has been. Unfortunately California doesn’t have any better options because conservatives left the state years ago. If you looked at the last governors race a few years ago you would have seen it to be a joke. The state is plagued by high taxes, global scamming taxes and high cost of living. IE property taxes. So what wingnut fiction are you referring too?

Read This

May 28th, 2009
10:34 am

Sonny should be thanking Obama or Wooten could’ve substituted California for Georgia and written the same piece, I think. Naw. Wooten would never shine a light on his own state’s financial woes. Would he? I mean Obama did balance Georgia’s budget, even as Sonny was posturing against the stimulus money, right?

Mara

May 28th, 2009
10:36 am

I knew the “County vs Bible Study” thing would make it onto the board eventually. Sheesh. Talk about mis-information. The issue isn’t the studying of the Bible or the religious practices of the Jones’s. The problem is that the county has rules regarding parking and group meetings. In fact the whole issue started when one of Jones’ attendees plowed into a neighbors car trying to get out the space he was parked. There isn’t enough room for all Jones folks to park safely, so that’s a public safety issue, not to mention an inconvenience to the neighbors. And it happens twice a week.

As much as Che would like to make it look like a freedom of religion issue, it ain’t. It’s code enforcement and public safety. The homeowner in question just happens to be a christian with a persecution complex.

Che was a homicidal maniac

May 28th, 2009
10:36 am

Jackie, the free market caused this problem? Enron?

Do us a favor Jackie, please provide ANY EVIDENCE that backs up your claim. I lived in LA for 8 years and NEVER heard anything about what you speak of.

California never had low taxes to begin with. The real problem is spending on pet projects and environmental issues that don’t exist.

Munch

May 28th, 2009
10:38 am

It’s clear that there is no point in debating Che, as all he is capable of is repetitive yapping similar to my neighbor’s Jack Russell barking at squirrels.

Ward, the complaint that the government is not “living within its means” is indicative of the sort of “commons sense” bullshyte that passes for analysis these days. The government provides services which it pays for with tax receipts. When the process is hijacked to allow initiatives that mandate more and more service, at the same time denying the government the flexibility to adjust the tax structure in response to CUSTOMER DEMAND, the inevitability is a government on the brink of bankruptcy.

Che was a homicidal maniac

May 28th, 2009
10:39 am

Mara, provide complete info into what you are talking about. I didn’t find anything about anyone hitting a neighbors car etc…

This is what the guy said: Broyles said, “The county asked, ‘Do you have a regular meeting in your home?’ She said, ‘Yes.’ ‘Do you say amen?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘Do you pray?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘Do you say praise the Lord?’ ‘Yes.’”

Now, if that is true then YES this is a christian persecution issue. If county officials are targeting a small christian group then YES this is a persecution issue.

The article mentioned NOTHING about hitting parked cars.

Che was a homicidal maniac

May 28th, 2009
10:42 am

Munch, no, jack russels terrier? Wow Munch, you really really hurt me with that put down. Troglodyte.

I point out the facts and you call me a small dog. Wow.

Oh, and government going bankrupt isn’t a bad thing.

Munch

May 28th, 2009
10:45 am

“government going bankrupt isn’t a bad thing”

If your aim is to become a third-world place to live, you might be right. If the aim is to sustain a productive and vital economy, then your ignorance could not be more complete.

I apologize for the Jack Russell remark. It was unfair to the dog.

Tray

May 28th, 2009
10:47 am

The problem simply is that the left believes everything should be given to them on a silver platter, and not earned! There is a raicst word that describes that, but I’d rather not offend anyone, so the left is just ignorant and lazy! Gimmie gimmie gimmie mommy government, i can’t do it by myself! Did the government teach you all how to ride a bike and tie your shoes, too?

Che was a homicidal maniac

May 28th, 2009
10:48 am

Munch, aweeeeee, you’re getting angry. Boo hoo. The government doesn’t create jobs. Private sector is what has made this country great. Government stifles growth. And no Munch, I don’t want to live in a third world country. That’s what democrats want. That’s why Obama Hussein spends his time kissing up to third world countries. Now go cry and pout in a corner somewhere, hack.

Normal

May 28th, 2009
10:56 am

There was an old joke about California that went like this:
California is like a granola bar, get rid of the fruits and nuts,
and all you have left are flakes…It’s the flakes that run California.

Munch

May 28th, 2009
11:00 am

Dipshyte Che continues his little weenie fit with nothing to say and no hesitation about saying it. Not mad, Che, just enjoying cats’ pawing you around as you scurry and squeak.

Slowly, so the dim bulb can understand…

The government does create jobs. Unless you’d like to suggest that police officers, fire fighters, EMTs, trash collectors, etc. do not work and get paid for it. So, you are wrong about that. Why does Che hate our police and fire departments?

Further, spending on infrastructure is typically contracted out to private contractors. I guess the people laying asphalt and building bridges (to name only a couple) are not really working and getting paid?

Maybe Che thinks that everyone who works for Lockheed or has their livings tied into the economies created by Warner Robins and other military facilities in Georgia do not have jobs?

And further…without the government expenditure on common good infrastructure, your heroic private sector heroes would be unable to help “make this country great”. It is a never-ending source of comedy that you and your gLibertarian pals believe that everything you have ever accomplished is the result of your own natural greatness, but any setbacks are the fault of the government, or liberals, or those “lazy” brown people. Drop your sorry @rse into Somalia and see how well you do.

Nice try, though, punk. But as always, you achieved a Massive Fail.

Aquagirl

May 28th, 2009
11:08 am

Cut ‘n paste crap from worldnet daily, angry, obsessive posters, multiple references to “the left,” butchering of the English language….just another glorious day for the wingnuts on Jim’s blog.

Jackie

May 28th, 2009
11:20 am

@Che

You must have spent most of your time at the beach!

The rolling blackouts and subsequent business interruptions were caused by Enron withholding electricity. They controlled the major portions of the power grid and withheld the electricity because it did not meet the Return On Investment (ROI) they expected.

Secondly, the tax rates in California are average nationally. California gross incomes are higher than most other states, therefore, gross taxes are higher. On a percentage basis taxes in California are no higher than those in Georgia.

Sorry, but the trickle down economic theories that you seem to support does not work. David Stockman, the Budget Director of Roanld Reagan state that fact emphatically.

Che was a homicidal maniac

May 28th, 2009
11:20 am

Munch, awe, Ms. high school drop out thinks the government is awesome! Did big daddy Obama Hussein teach you government is good?

Aquagirl, I cut and pasted from a San Diego news website! Before making your snide little pea brained judgments on someone get your facts straight, troglodyte!

Does this look like World Daily to you?

http://www.10news.com/news/19562217/detail.html

Che was a homicidal maniac

May 28th, 2009
11:22 am

Jackie, nope honey, I spent my time working. Spew your garbage anyway you like but ask a REAL Californian and they will tell you the same. I advise you to get out and experience the real world. Darlin!

Che was a homicidal maniac

May 28th, 2009
11:24 am

Munch, lazy brown people? Me thinks you’re a closet racist who’s….just come out of the closet. You said it comrade, not me. Again, only a lib would assume and race bait.

By the way, I’ve lived in the Middle East as well, comrade. Seen it! Suck on those balls for a while.

Mara

May 28th, 2009
11:30 am

Che – Mara, provide complete info into what you are talking about. I didn’t find anything about anyone hitting a neighbors car etc…

Okay, since you don’t know how to use the google…here’s the link you asked for.

money quote: Pastor David Jones says a visitor to a neighbor’s house called the county after a bible study member hit the visitor’s car while leaving. Jones said a county code enforcement officer gave him a citation saying he needed a permit to host the weekly bible study meetings.

there ya go, Che. I did the research so you won’t have to. And as for the questions asked by the inspector, frankly…we only have this publicity seeking pastor’s word for what was asked. And considering that neither he nor his lawyer even tried to put the permit requirement into context, I’m afraid their honesty might be questionable. Until there’s some proof that the county actually asked them if they say amen, pray, or say ‘praise the Lord’, I’m gonna assume that the Jones religious practices have nothing to do with it.

Jackie

May 28th, 2009
11:32 am

@Che

Drop the honey crap! We have the same equipment, ;therefore, you do not have to think you need to be easy on me as I will not be easy on you!

If you spent your time working, then you know that you had problems with electrical and water problems perpetuated by Enron? Free market working in your favor?

Secondly, YOUR real world is fantasy land as I would compare my experiences and accomplishments with those of yours on any level. As a matter of conjecture, it appears to me you would place a distant second.

Munch

May 28th, 2009
11:37 am

{Patronizing sigh as I begin…}

Che, what I pointed out, clear enough for a 10 year old to understand, is that government has an essential role to play in any successful society. That you can only respond with reflexive spews of “government baaad” indicates that you have abandoned critical thought for life as a parrot.

Mara, you don’t mean to imply that a “Christian” pastor would tell a lie in pursuit of publicity? Why, next thing you know, there will be all kinds of crazy, made up shyte passing for truth in our churches, like talking plants and corpses stalking the earth 3 days after their death. These guys must think people will believe ANYTHING.

Nocumentum

May 28th, 2009
11:44 am

The only thing more scary than the idiots that dominate our General Assembly today is the prospect that “the people”, by popular vote, could be making laws and policy as they’ve done in California. People are the same all over; they want to pay no taxes, but they want a menu of public programs and services. We have a representative democracy in this country for a reason; unfortunately, we keep sending dull-normal, spineless, otherwise unemployable prostitutes to our legislatures, and we get back what we deserve.

Aquagirl

May 28th, 2009
11:46 am

Sure Che, you just happened to be surfing a local San Diego TV station website. Uh-huh.

I think Mara said it all. That “story” is crappy journalism appealing to paranoid delusional nuts who treasure the idea they are persecuted. If the devout little liars had not destroyed someone else’s property through their behavior, no complaint would have been filed. I guess you don’t have a right to reasonable protection of your property if a Jeebus-waving ambulance chaser says so.

Keep it up. We need more examples of right-wing hysterical silliness. It further marginalizes you so the rest of us can actually get something done in this country.

Munch

May 28th, 2009
11:51 am

C’mon Aquagirl, give poor Che a break. Everyone knows Christians are the second-most persecuted minority in the US, right behind white males. They just can’t catch a break.

Copyleft

May 28th, 2009
11:51 am

The Che Maniac sure lies a lot, doesn’t he?

For example: “The government doesn’t create jobs.”

Blatantly wrong, as already demonstrated.

“Private sector is what has made this country great.”

Again, wrong. Our Constitution (i.e., our system of government) is what sets America apart from the rest of the world.

“Government stifles growth.”

Another lie. The market literally cannot function without government involvement… a simple fact.

“I don’t want to live in a third world country. That’s what democrats want.”

Riight, that’s why the Obama administration is trying to SALVAGE the bungled and crashing corporations instead of just writing them off. That’s also why they’re passing economic stimulus and recovery plans, and investing in infrastructure… because they want the American way of life to sink to the bottom of the heap. Uh-huh. Sure. Another day, another pathetic lie from the Maniac.

“That’s why Obama Hussein spends his time kissing up to third world countries.”

Name one. And before you try, remember that “speaking politely to them” isn’t “kissing up” anywhere but in the fevered, infantile imaginations of the most hostile and clueless of right-wing morons. Are you among them, Maniac?

Mara

May 28th, 2009
12:05 pm

Everyone knows Christians are the second-most persecuted minority in the US, right behind white males. They just can’t catch a break.

ROTFL!!

Pete Seguin

May 28th, 2009
12:23 pm

California is the state that OVERWHELMINGLY voted for Obama – 63% of ‘em. So the liberal whine about Republicans in California not wanting to tax themselves is pure BALONEY or BALOGNA, if you prefer.

California is what happens when socialism is brought to bear and personal repsonsibility is marginalized. Take the octo-Mom for example. Pure government support for the birth and care of eight children brought into the world without personal responsibility for their care. Guess what, HER next door neighbor gets to pay octo-Mom’s bills and, as a California, so do I.

LIBERALISM is ABDICATION OF PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY which leads to SOCIALISM which leads to ECONOMIC FAILURE.