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."

Monday, September 08, 2008

Recall Arnold?

So, the LA Times is reporting that the Prison Guards' Union is initiating a recall effort for Gov. Schwarzenegger. If there was one group of people that would make me re-think my position on Arnold Schwarzenegger, it is the slimy Prison Guards' Union that sucks up tons of state money and runs lousy prisons. Of course, Arnold isn't the one that can't put a budget together. That's the legislature. Heck, he even proposed tax increases. What Arnold has done wrong was to track far right early on, then refuse to consider reasonable tax increases or sensible spending cuts as part of the budget. His line was 'no new taxes' and across-the-board spending cuts (with no sense of priorities). The Democratic-controlled legislature lacked the 2/3 vote needed to raise taxes or borrow money, so Arnold pushed through huge borrowing referenda on the ballot. Spending is all the legislature can figure out how to do. The result has been more debt and higher debt costs. The budget is in WORSE shape than when he took office as a result of a budget-oriented recall.

Rather than understanding or trying to solve the systemic problems facing the CA budgeting process, Schwarzenegger has continued to favor stopgap solutions and random populist rhetoric. He has also failed to form any sort of working consensus in his own useless vestigial Republican party (the appendix of California politics) so we get the disadvantage of a governor hostile to the legislature without the advantage of him being able to negotiate on behalf of the minority.

Meanwhile, the Democratic California legislature, full of amateurs and suppported by narrow special interests (a few powerful unions and indian tribes pouring cash in) has spent its time doing nothing but churning out useless legislation on plastic ags, cell phones, and transfats. We have to keep electing them, however, because their Republican opponents are nothing but the Jesus Freak party of Dan Lungren and Tom McClintock. Even more "moderate" Republicans (almost a vanished species here) propose only worse policies: cutting education funding, screwing with health care, etc.

Recall Arnold? Recall 'em all...


Raised By Republicans said...

the problem is - as LTG pointed out - neither the Democrats nor the Governor but the stupid 2/3 requirement for any budget to pass. It's a recipe for exactly the kind of protracted budget crisis California faces.

Raised By Republicans said...

PS: To all you Californians. I suggest you get out while you can. This is only going to get worse as the population increases and the gap between rich and poor in the state worsens along with that.

May I suggest Colorado?

The Law Talking Guy said...

We were thinking of moving en masse to Iowa, burning all the corn for our BMWs, then leaving again.

Raised By Republicans said...

Great! Now if we could just figure out how to run cars on pig shit.

The Law Talking Guy said...

Even a 51% majority is not going to be a silver bullet. The problem is not just the 2/3 vote, it's the fact that 85-90% of the budget is constitutionally directed into programs that (therefore) have almost no accountability. Doesn't help that the heads of several departments (Insurance Comm'ner, Secy of Education, Secy of State, Atty General) are independently elected, thus free agents of a sort.

The Law Talking Guy said...

Oh, and the 2/3 requirement for raising local taxes hurts too, since we have health care and education done at a local level. There is a lower 55% requirement for rasising local school bonds and taxes. Not for other kinds of local taxation.

The water districts with all independently elected boards are another problem.

And Prop 13, which has the sin of very high rates for new homeowners and the unforgivable sin of still not raising nearly enough revenue to make it worthwhile.

And overlapping city and county responsibilities (except in SF and Sac which are unified).

Raised By Republicans said...

Thus my suggestion to leave the state.

USwest said...

Actually, California is a lesson in populism gone arwy. Like I said, we need state constitutional convention that will rewrite Califronia's constitution. Time to start over clean. And then we prohibit constitutional amendments based on ballot measures.

RBR: Here's another great idea: how about if all those American immigrants who moved here in the last 20 years go back home and those who are planning to move to here just stay home.

Raised By Republicans said...

"Here's another great idea: how about if all those American immigrants who moved here in the last 20 years go back home and those who are planning to move to here just stay home."

That won't help you. The problem isn't too many people from the rest of the country coming to California. The problem is California's screwed up political institutions. A constitutional convention is -as you point out - desperately needed. But since that is not very likely to happen any time soon, California is doomed to see years, perhaps decades, of this kind of fiscal malaise. Public services will continue to deteriorate and everything from fire protection to schools will suffer.

I merely suggest that self interested Californians with the means to do so, should vote with their feet and get out while the gettin' is good.

USWest said...

I get your point, but part of the problem is that there are just too many people in this state, period. That puts additional stress on a messed up government.

And who, pray tell, will be left to fix the mess if all of us with the means and minds leave? Of course, when the California trained doctor who went through our public school system accidentally confuses my liver with my appendix because he can't read, it may be a bit too late!

Raised By Republicans said...

"And who, pray tell, will be left to fix the mess if all of us with the means and minds leave"

No one. The last one out will just turn out the lights on their way to Seattle or Portland or Denver or whereever.

My suggestion is not a proscription for solving the problem. It is a suggestion for minimizing the damage that problem does to the well being, not to mention the vital organs, of my friends in California.

But don't worry. The ad hoc gangs of semi-literate and poorly equipped volunteer fire fighters will let your city burn to the ground long before the doctors get so bad as to accidently remove your liver.

The Law Talking Guy said...

RBR, the screwed up institutions are a problem, but we need to recognize that USWest is also correct: the failure of those institutions is not in the abstract, but it is in the failure to accomodate the massive population growth in this state. Most of it has been international immigration and births (i.e., poor people and dependents). The growth was strongest in poor counties like Imperial and Riverside that lack resources.

Two sources:
(neither is a great source on its won, but both just process census data into nice graphs and charts).

What you see is that the state's population has doubled since 1970, adding 17 million people. Colorado's population also doubled, but it was only 2 million additional people, with a much heavier emphasis on internal migration within the United States. Colorado has had growth around Denver metro area and in the wealthy mountain towns.

Differing stress on institutions must be considered. CA is a state with a bad engine that got hit by a tidal wave.

Iowa has not had population growth to deal with. Its population declined from 1980 to 1990, and is barely above 1980 levels even today. Its population was 2.2m in 1900, and is not expected to reach 3 million until 2010, at which point it is expected decline again. So Iowa doesn't need to build new communities, schools, etc. Its problems are the economic problems of a struggling agricultural sector.

Raised By Republicans said...

Why the Iowa comparison? I never held up Iowa as an example to emulate (they've got their own problems believe me!). All I'm saying is that if you live in California, be prepared to suffer. There is no indication at all that things will get better. Indeed, it looks like they will get A LOT worse.

Sure the population increases exacerbate the problem but if California's population magically froze in place today, it would still have this fiscal disaster on its hands year in and year out.

The Law Talking Guy said...

California did quite well into the early 1980s when the infrastructure boom of the 1960s became the aging infrastructure problem and it was unable to cope with the population explosion. I read a biography of Pat Brown recently that included the amazing fact that his administration raised taxes and built the California Aqueduct in such a future-oriented way that all the water wasn't used regularly until the early 1980s. Without the huge population boom, it might have taken much longer.

I should add that the population boom was connected with anti-tax radicals that made life much worse. To cope with Prop 13 and other anti-tax measures, agencies began cannibalizing capital budgets for annual ones. When recession hit in the early 1980s and again in the early 1990s, the state was unable to cope even with them. The late 1990s under the internet boom disguised everything. Money flowed in to the treasury, but it was not invested in fixing infrastructure problems (schools, roads, bridges, dams, levies). It just stopped the bleeding. We now can't afford annual budgets and have nothing for capital. Interestingly, LAUSD (under former Colorado Gov. Romer) began to trying to buck the trend. As a result of his leadership, it is in the process of building 100 new schools over the this 3 years period, including the first new high school in more than 20 years.

The Law Talking Guy said...

Pat Brown presided over the explosion of schools (Cal STates and UCs) Apparently, Pat Brown used to ask kids who came by, "Which of my universities do you want to go to?" To piss him off, his daughter Kathleen went to Stanford.