Wednesday, May 27, 2009

So What Happens to California?

A garden hose pistolImage via Wikipedia

Forbes Magazine editor's blog this week:

Here is another fine piece by Atlantic blogger Megan McArdle; it is rollicking good.

So what about California? A reader asks. Ummm, that's a tough one. No, wait, it's not: California is completely, totally, irreparably hosed. And not a little garden hose. More like this. Their outflow is bigger than their inflow. You can blame Republicans who won't pass a budget, or Democrats who spend every single cent of tax money that comes in during the booms, borrow some more and then act all surprised when revenues, in a totally unprecedented, inexplicable and unforeseeable chain of events, fall during a recession. You can blame the initiative process and the uneducated voters who try to vote themselves rich by picking their own pockets. Whoever is to blame, the state was bound to go broke one day, and hey, today's that day!

"California will go bankrupt, muni and state debt will spike, the federal government will backstop humanitarian programs and very possibly all state and local debt, and eventually, California will figure out whether it wants higher taxes or lower spending. But we will not actually make the world a better place by enabling the lunatics in Sacramento to pretend they can have both.

But all the discussions in the media for the coming months will be about raising more money, somehow, someway -- there is no way in hell we can cut anything, not single nickle can be spared. That will be the story.

The Empire of Debt by Dee HonImage by Renegade98 via Flickr

And to prove it, the politicians from Arnold on down will cut their budgets by slicing off nothing but important or sentimental programs -- they'll cut police and fire, which are the real reason most people think we have government in the first place -- and they'll cut programs for children and poor women and cripples, ones that make you think they're out of their minds because they raise a storm of criticism.

But they *want* a storm of criticism. They want to be able to say, "See? We *try* and we *try*, but anything we cut, people get really upset! So we have no choice but to raise taxes (or borrow money or whatever)."

They won't stop going on junkets, they won't shut down the hundreds of commissions that do nothing but provide make-work jobs for their out-of-office pol friends, they won't cut back on programs that haven't shown they work, and they won't cut into programs that really are questionable as to whether the government ought to be doing them. And they won't sell anything, not even San Quentin, because it's "for the people!"

Prepare yourself for a truly disgusting spectacle. And then your wallet will get lifted.

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