02.21.10

California = US = Broken & Irresponsible

Posted in Predator State at 5:52 pm by George Smith

California makes up at least ten percent of the US GDP. Since it is so large, it only makes sense that it’s the same as the country as a whole in 2010. Irresponsibly run, almost broken beyond repair.

A good example of the dysfunction is Meg Whitman’s run for governorship.

The video is her campaign commercial, which runs frequently. Here, some wag has posted it to YouTube, apparently when it interrupted an comedy skit.

Whitman is a standard 2010 GOP candidate. Anti-big government, anti-tax — which actually got California into its current mess, anti everything but sycophants wishing to kiss her ass.

Like many very wealthy people, it’s a trait that serves reasonably well in 2010 US. It banks on a solid belief among many in the citizenry that it’s good practice to be lickspittle to rich people, to blindly accept everything they suggest, because as my idiot mother used to put it irrefutably: “If you’re so smart, howcum you ain’t rich?”

The corollary to that would then seem obvious.

In Whitman’s commercial, one immediately notices the pics of her on the covers of magazines, underlining the message that here is someone who’s rings deserve kissing.

Whitman’s two big recommendations are to cut spending and ‘fix education.’

In this, she also hews to ruling orthodoxy in 2010 US. That the two prescriptions are incompatible in 2010 California is not important.

Her motto is “Mean what you say, say what you mean.” That this is senseless and hysterical when coming from her means nothing. She was, after all, on the cover of business magazines and the head of eBay.

In an editorial in Canada’s Globe and Mail recently, one columnist described California thusly:

Mired in partisan bickering, the state has shown itself incapable of managing its finances in recent years. It’s now facing a $20-billion (U.S.) budget shortfall in the current fiscal year, and another big gap in 2011. Even with brutal planned cuts to government services and dramatic tax hikes, Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has asked for nearly $7-billion from Washington to fill the gap – a sum he is unlikely to get.

The reason for this, unmentioned, is the affliction in Sacramento is the same one infecting the US government. As in the US Senate, an overwhelming majority is required to pass legislation. This has allowed the GOP — the minority part in the state — to block everything. And so California cannot be governed.

Whitman espouses fixing education in California but it was tax revolt which broke that in the state. And it is the current GOP-controlling minority which gums up everything now.

In fact, spending has been cut radically in California. One of the very noticeable results has been the continued firing of teachers.

From March of last year, this notice from the state:

Districts are handing out the notices of potential layoff to teachers and other staff in response to the state budget crisis. The recently enacted state budget included $11.6 billion in cuts to public education budget over the next 15 months.

“School districts up and down this state are sending out pink slips to tens of thousands of hard-working, dedicated teachers, administrators, and school staff,” O’Connell said. “Cuts of this magnitude will have devastating effects in our classrooms across the state.”

The recently enacted budget cuts come on top of several years of reduced support in the state budget for public education. Last year, roughly 10,000 teachers received pink slips and an estimated 5,000 ultimately lost their jobs.

“Before the current cuts were enacted, California already ranked 47th in the nation in per-pupil spending,” O’Connell said. “These current cuts are sure to push us further down the scale.

And from today, a random newspaper article from somewhere else in the state:

The Newport-Mesa Unified School District Board of Education will vote Tuesday night on a resolution that calls for the elimination of nearly 125 full-time positions, and more than half of them will be young elementary school teachers fresh out of college.

The recommended layoffs, including the dismantling of the district’s Adult Education program and its ESL classes, are expected to save the district $13.5 million in the 2010-11 budget.

The anticipated job losses are a direct result of the state’s recent cutbacks in education due to the fiscal crisis playing out across the entire state, said Laura Boss, a spokeswoman for the district.

Whitman’s strategy is a standard GOP line, more nicely-put Ted Nugent-like philosophy, suitable for framing: If we can just get rid of all the welfare leeches, parasites in state government, and a bunch of undeserving union-protected teachers, that will fix things.

“What has struck me about Whitman is how normal she seems,” writes courtesan Fred Barnes at the Weekly Standard. “She’s rich. She donated $30 million to Princeton to build a sixth college on campus (dubbed Whitman College).”

The Wall Street Journal says:

Ms. Whitman, a Republican gubernatorial candidate in California, is fashioning herself as the latest crusader promising to crack down on abuses of the welfare state, which is nowhere more corrupt and costly than in the Golden State … California is twenty years behind the curve on welfare reform, and Ms. Whitman may be the first candidate in a generation with a concrete plan to replace lifetime welfare with work and dignity.

One peruses the abstract of a paper, entitled “A desperate means to dignity: Work refusal amongst Philadelphia welfare recipients”:

Sentiments favoring a sweeping overhaul of the United States’ social welfare system culminated in the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) in 1996 – a law that mandates states to move almost all recipients from cash assistance on welfare to paid work. This ethnographic study examined work refusal among women who left menial jobs to return to welfare, or to subsistence by other means. Seventy interviews and 18 months of participant observation revealed a pattern of confrontations with authority figures at various job sites as well as resentment of the subservience often demanded of workers in the lowest tiers of the primary economy. Confrontations in training programs and at work afforded impoverished women the chance to express their resentments about being relegated to unrewarding, low income work and to maintain vestiges of even a defiant dignity in the face of a hostile social order.


Related:

“Indeed, to lead now is to trim, to fire or to downsize services, programs or personnel,” writes little Tommy Friedman at the New York Times today.

“We’ve gone from the age of government handouts to the age of citizen givebacks, from the age of companions fly free to the age of paying for each bag … The president needs to persuade the country to invest in the future and pay for the past — past profligacy — all at the same time. We have to pay for more new schools and infrastructure than ever, while accepting more entitlement cuts than ever, when public trust in government is lower than ever.”

Little Tommy fails to mention his role during the past few years which included cheerleading for the Iraq War and being an expensive trained parrot for superwealth and big business while advocating that everyone else — but him, presumably — will now have to eat their peas and make do with much much less.


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