Bell Curve The Law Talking Guy Raised by Republicans U.S. West
Well, he's kind of had it in for me ever since I accidentally ran over his dog. Actually, replace "accidentally" with "repeatedly," and replace "dog" with "son."

Sunday, October 02, 2005

A Comment On Schwarzenegger

Hi Everyone,

This LA Times article about Governor Schwarzenegger describes the Governor's grab bag of policies and concludes (based on analysis from a respected Political Scientist) that Schwarzenegger is socially liberal and fiscally conservative. However, I read the story (combined with other things I know about the Governor) and came to nearly the opposite conclusion. Schwarzenegger is socially conservative/populist and fiscally liberal. Here is why I think that.

Indicative Schwarzenegger social policy positions:
1) Anti-equality re: marriage for homosexuals
2) Pro-vigilante re: illegal immigration in the desert
3) Refusal to repeal recent tax cuts (this is often seen as exclusively "fiscal" policy but really tax code structure is a social policy too)
4) Education at all levels is cut heavily (K-12, community colleges, Cal State system and UC system)

Indicative Schwarzenegger fiscal policy positions:
1) Budgets are not balanced but are made to appear so by heavy borrowing
2) Spending on favored constituencies goes up despite little demonstrable benefit to broader society (I'm talking about the governor's slavish devotion to the Prison Guards Union and the prison industry)
3) Refusal to repeal recent tax cuts (to the extent that they affect revenue, they are fiscal policy).

Schwarzenegger frequently claims to be a leader that transcends partisan identity. "I represent all the people" or "What California needs is a single strong leader for all the people" or similar comments are common from the governor. These are NOT encouraging. Such claims to personalized legitimacy is the foundation of populist/fascist ideologies not democratic politics. Corporatist populism is a common ideological position in Austria. Schwarzenegger fits in that tradition far more than he fits with the socially liberal Californians who just want their budget balanced!

Comments? Alternative Perspectives?


Dr. Strangelove said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Dr. Strangelove said...

RxR lists these as Schwarzenegger's policy positions:

(Social) #1. Anti-equality re: marriage for homosexuals. While Gov. Schwarzenegger vetoed what would have been the first gay marriage legislation in the nation, we should note that Schwarzenegger’s record toward gay rights has otherwise been quite positive. He has signed several important gay rights measures, including the country’s most expansive domestic partnership act; by any measure, gay rights have advanced in California under Gov. Schwarzenegger. Although his veto of the gay marriage act cost him any opportunity of earning my vote, it would be unfair to imply that Gov. Schwarzenegger has been anti-gay.

(Social) #2. Pro-vigilante re: illegal immigration in the desert. Here I agree with RxR. Gov. Schwarzenegger has bought into the conservative, anti-immigration agenda--and this is pretty lousy, considering he was once an immigrant himself.

(Social/Fiscal) #3. Refusal to repeal recent tax cuts. What tax cuts are you referring to? Gov. Schwarzenegger has not cut taxes in any significant way other than to roll back the much-hated Vehicle Licensing Fee. Gov. Schwarzenegger’s unwillingness to raise taxes is highly fiscally irresponsible, but it is a fulfillment of his campaign promise and we all expected it.

(Social) #4. Education at all levels is cut heavily (K-12, community colleges, Cal State system and UC system). While Gov. Schwarzenegger has invoked clauses in Prop. 98 (among other things) to will force education spending to rise more slowly than had been promised, the figures below (in $1,000's) show that spending on education has NOT been cut heavily.

1985-86 / 28,570,875 / 15,319,844 / 53.62
1986-87 / 31,227,186 / 16,788,065 / 53.76
1987-88 / 32,751,860 / 17,475,221 / 53.36
1988-89 / 35,763,693 / 18,955,734 / 53.00
1989-90 / 39,455,870 / 20,257,777 / 51.34
1990-91 / 40,263,581 / 20,097,986 / 49.92
1991-92 / 43,326,985 / 22,247,215 / 51.35
1992-93 / 40,948,276 / 21,310,254 / 52.04
1993-94 / 38,957,922 / 19,161,422 / 49.18
1994-95 / 41,961,466 / 20,635,115 / 49.18
1995-96 / 45,393,091 / 23,321,664 / 51.38
1996-97 / 49,088,105 / 26,073,473 / 53.12
1997-98 / 52,874,378 / 28,704,672 / 54.29
1998-99 / 57,827,077 / 30,929,506 / 53.49
1999-00 / 66,494,040 / 35,608,893 / 53.55
2000-01 / 78,052,939 / 38,895,165 / 49.83
2001-02 / 76,751,713 / 39,567,956 / 51.55
2002-03 / 77,482,135 / 38,276,292 / 49.40
2003-04 / 78,345,232 / 38,112,964 / 48.65
2004-05 / 79,715,970 / 43,651,570 / 54.76
2005-06 / 90,025,959 / 46,799,456 / 51.98

(Fiscal) #1. Budgets are not balanced but are made to appear so by heavy borrowing
I agree with RxR completely. Gov. Schwarzenegger has failed to provide responsible fiscal leadership—a fact all the more discouraging when one realizes that fiscal responsibility is pretty much the only thing Californians were praying for when they threw out Gray Davis. If Gov. Schwarzenegger had proposed stiff spending cuts or raising taxes, at least he would have displayed some backbone—but instead, he chose the easy way out. If only it were truly a way out! Gov. Schwarzenegger has chosen to follow the same policy of piling on more debt as Davis did (albeit with more panache) so one can only hope he will obtain the same reaction from the voters.

(Fiscal) #2. Spending on favored constituencies goes up despite little demonstrable benefit to broader society (I'm talking about the governor's slavish devotion to the Prison Guards Union and the prison industry). On the one hand, this is nothing new; every governor kowtows to his base, and Gray Davis was specifically beholden to the Prison Guards as well. But on the other hand, Gov. Schwarzenegger campaigned on a platform to do away with “politics as usual”—but instead, he does even more fundraising than Davis and plays the same games.

So Gov. Schwarzenegger has displayed no political backbone. He borrows more instead of making hard choices. He has backed away from almost every meaningful political reform. He plays pork-barrel politics as usual. He leaves gay marriage up to the courts, rather than taking a stand on principle.

Californians voted for an action hero governor, but what we got was Gray Davis on steroids.

Anonymous said...

I have to disagree with the assertion that Governor Schwarzenegger has been pro-equality on marriage. Taken as a whole his policy position is one in which gay couples are to be regarded seperately and unequally (otherwise why make such a point of making the distinction?). Yes, he is less exclusionary than some of the more extreme voices in his party but don't confuse a somewhat more benevolent tyrant with a liberator.

Wow! Those education numbers look thurough! I don't doubt their veracity. But from a substantive point of view, I don't believe the story they seem to tell for a minute. I know from having worked inside the higher education system in California during the Davis and Schwarzenegger eras that Schwarzenegger cut university budgets and - worse! - raised fees MASSIVELY several times beyond what Davis had already done. Raising fees - especially fees (by 40%!!) for graduate students who do most of the teaching - is a cut targeted not at the administrative overhead of the university but directly at its pedagogical mission. Grad students don't pay their own fees. Instead the departments do. By raising grad students' fees Schwarzenegger effectively mandated cuts in the number of TAs and graduate instructors the UCs and CSUs could hire. That in turn lead to massive cut backs in courses offered and increases in hardship for students at all levels. At the same time, I see why this brutal assult on education did not appear in the numbers. The fees don't appear as a cut even if they function like one.

Dr. Strangelove, I hate to ask you to do more research but do you have a similar wealth of data for tuition and fees at the JCs, CSUs and UCs? 

// posted by Raised By Republicans

Anonymous said...

Just a few small points: Arnold may have vetoed the gay marriage legislation under pressure from Washington. Remember who his backers are. He may have a set of personal beliefs that are different from his veto (Although I doubt it. He is Austrian, after all.

As for the education budget in the state: I am curious of the numbers are for k-12 education or if they include higher education funding? My guess is that those are k-12 numbers. K-12 is run by the State Department of Ed while university education is run by the board of governors-thus different budgets.

I am still baffled by the education budget in the state. I am pro education all the way and I have worked quite a bit in K-12 education. And I have to ask where the guaranteed 40% of the general fund allocated to k-12 education is going because it sure as hell isn't improving education in this state. I am not sure throwing money on the education fire is the right idea. We are totally off tract when we focus on money for schools. I think we start being more realistic about what we expect from our schools. We have to stop forcing schools to serve as social services distributors so that they can focus on teaching rather than psychology and family breakdowns. And I hate to sound insensitive, but the idea of mainstreaming the severely handicapped has to change. Currently, if one paraplegic child in a school of 3000 wants to mainstream, the school is required by law to hire special personnel for that one student. I am sorry, but at a certain point, when do the rights to a free education for the many become more important than the rights of the one? Every child has special needs, but is it fair to ask schools to cater to everyone of them? When does that become the responsibility of the parent? Another thing, I think we have to stop forcing schools to buy new text books every 2 years. I went to Catholic school and used grammar books that were 14 years old. I don't think the rules of the English language changed much between 1972 and 1986. I had better teaching and better grounding in all my studies than the kids that had new books because I had REAL teachers! If you quit buying so many lousy books from the likes of McGraw-Hill, then maybe teachers will have to learn how to actually teach again and you can pay them more for it. This is the kind of stuff gobbles up money that could be used to hire more art, music, and PE teachers. But we don't change this stuff. Instead, we turn our children into Amway salesmen hawking candy bars to pay of a PE teacher to come in once a week.

Also, last time I checked, CSUs did not hire graduate instructors. Perhaps times have changed, but I believe that is still the case. Raising tuition and cutting services is an old game in California. I remember being at CSU and getting 20% tuition hikes every semester during the last fiscal crisis when Wilson was governor.

And speaking of Wilson, it was he and the democratic congress that went and privatized electricity thus sticking Gray Davis with a huge problem. Remember, he, with help of the boom, brought us into a budget surplus- a surplus that was exhausted thanks to the energy crisis. He didn't have much choice but to spend and spend to make sure our lights stayed on. And there are a couple of traders in Texas still smiling over how they stuck it to granny.

// posted by USWest

US West said...

oops, I just looked back at the numbers- it says ALL EDUCATION. So I guess they are comprehensive! Sorry for the oversite on my part.

Anonymous said...

CSU's routinely hire grad students (usually from local UCs) that have not finished their PhDs yet. CSUs also use TA's and graduate student graders (in their MA programs).

The issue of money in schools is important. US West is correct to point out that it won't solve every problem. A big problem is all the "in loco parentis" stuff and other unfunded mandates imposed on schools by various well meaning law makers.

BUT, if you want good teachers in California you have to pay them a wage that competes with alternative careers for people with B.A.s. And it would be nice if you could pay them a wage that allows them to own a house or at least maintain some semblance of a middle class life style. Every year, the real wages of teachers in California seem to drop. Sure they may be making more now than they did 20 years ago but their wages have not kept up with cost of living increases in California - especially in the cities. It used to be that k-12 teachers were regarded as solidly middle class career people. Now, they seem to be treated more like civil servants along the lines of postal workers or something. And the postal workers probably make more money - or at least about the same.

Money won't make a bad teacher good. But it will attract a better pool of applicants for teaching jobs over time. The key is to attract people who could excel at any job but chose to excel at being a teacher. You'll get more of those people with more money for wages, smaller classes, better supplies etc. Over the course of a few years, more money will mean better teachers and better schools overall. 

// posted by Raised By Republicans

Anonymous said...

Teacher salaries are a big issue. This is true not just of K-12, but across the educational system. Professors aren't well paid either. And you are correct in pointing out that teachers are treated less like professionals and more like civil servants. They are forced to take university course throughout their careers. These are not paid for by the state or the schools. They are constantly under risk of lawsuit and in some cases, physical risk. One disgruntled parent or armed student is all it takes to ruin a teacher. Teachers are often made to buy classroom supplies out of their own paychecks. And then, you attach cash incentives to standardized tests, which further perverts and already perverted system. Why anyone would want to become a teacher today is beyond me. 

// posted by USWest

Anonymous said...

I know this is a little off topic, but it refers to something that I mentioned in my comments on this thread.
This story from NPR this morning highlights just one of the problems faced by schools. Special EducationBattles  This is one of those times when I wouldn't mind the government giving grants to parents to send their kids to private schools. 

// posted by USWest

Anonymous said...

One of the problems I have the whole vouchers issue is that it assumes people will move their kids from school A to school B if school A slips. The problem is that it assumes parents (and kids) have very high or even infinite tolerance for distance to school (resistance to bussing puts the lie to that assumption). HOWEVER, in the case of parents with special needs kids, I suspect their tolerance for travel time to school would be greatly increased. Vouchers could easily work in this area when they would not generally. 

// posted by Raised By Republicans

Anonymous said...

There is a problem now of massive overdiagnosis of special needs. Some savvy parents are realizing that by having their kids classified as having ADD or some minor hard-to-prove learning disability they can get everything from one-on-one instruction to extra time on the SAT. Private school vouchers do exist under the IDEA, but are rare because of relative costs. But not so rare. Making them more available would exacerbate all kinds of problems. And would cause so much more money to be siphoned away. Parents don't need more ways to get their kids out of public schools. We need to fix the public schools.

Anyone who thinks we can solve our public school problems just by throwing money at them is naive. Anyone who thinks we can do it without a lot more money, though, is lying. 

// posted by LTG

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