I want to throw up

|
(18)

I've gotten a pretty strong stomach after 25 years of political reporting, but when I read stuff like this, I reall want to throw up. It's not just pandering or corruption or sleaze -- that shit's common enough, and I can deal. It's this utter, blatant, mind-boggling lack of reality that makes me start to lose my lunch.

(Pretty good lunch, too -- I made myself a nice turkey sandwich with havarti cheese and mayo, on a crispy roll, bag o' chips, bottle of sparkling Calistoga -- hate to see it come back up again.)

But please, folks: Cannot anyone running for governor of California be remotely honest about the budget problem? These people are not fools; Meg Whitman and Steve Poizner have run businesses. Jerry Brown has been governor before, and has been a mayor. They know how budgets work. And they know this:

You cannot -- cannot -- solve a $19 billion budget deficit by reducing waste and fraud. Even Schwarzenegger admits that:

Shortly after taking office, Schwarzenegger also promised to find billions in fraud through a top-to-bottom review of state government. But after the 2006 review, Schwarzenegger admitted his advisers "did not find the kind of abuse that I thought there is."

 There's not $19 billion worth of bureaucratic waste, either. It's just not there.

There are only two options to make this state fiscally sound again: Fundamentally restructure what the state of California does (that means, for example, eliminating most of the social safety net, giving up on public education and releasing about half the prison population), or raise taxes.

Only two options. Anyone with any sense knows that; as my friend and colleague Johnny Angel Wendell likes to say, it's just simple math.

And yet nobody's talking about it. Nobody's even coming close. And the press isn't pushing all that hard, either.

I was pleased to see that my old pal Jerry Brown saying that "those with the biggest belts" should tighten them. At least that has a tiny nod to the notion that some people are better off than others and the rich ought to pay more than the poor. But what the hell does it mean?

I called Jerry's campaign office this afternoon and asked Sterling Clifford, his press person, to help me out a little. Is Brown saying that he thinks the wealthy should pay more taxes?

Actually, no: "I think he has been very clear that there will be no new taxes unless the people vote on them," Clifford told me.

Okay, so does that mean he's going to cut the budget of the biggest departments -- say, the prison system? Well, no: "He intends to enter the budget negotiations with the Legislature with all options on the table."

Shit. How about restoring the Vehicle License Fee to what it was before Schwarzenegger rolled it back? That a good Jerry Brown issue, environmentally sound. How about it? "I don't know," Clifford said. "I've never asked him about it."

Well, you should, Sterling, and so should every reporter who sees him at every press event and every activist who sees him at every rally. And the same goes for Meg and Steve. These people are acting delusional -- and we just have to call them on it.

Comments

If I can make due on a 20% pay cut....so too can the State and its employees. And it should.

Here's an idea, tax the liberals that want higher taxes and leave the rest of us out of it.

If you then say that doesn't equitably share the burden across those receiving benefits from the State, I ask you to look at how you justify rent control? It does the same thing, only the burden to subsidize renters isn't a choice of property owners.

Posted by Guest on May. 20, 2010 @ 2:38 pm

I'll go along with your idea of only raising taxes on those willing to pay them, but those who don't lose all the government services the taxes pay for. So, no more driving, public school, water or sewage, etc. You anti-taxers live in some sort of selfish, right wing fantasy land that has nothing to do with reality. You're like spoiled children who demand government services but refuse to pay for them.

And BTW, Mr. Landlord, rent control has absolutely nothing to do with this issue. Landlords are not subsidizing tenants, they are just now allowed to immorally gouge tenants with large rent increases. Landlords will eventually make a fortune off their properties, so quit crying about the fact that you can't get rich quick by ripping off tenants. And you are also totally wrong about choice; no one is forced to be a landlord. If you choose to be one in a rent-controlled jurisdiction like SF, you accept rent control.

Posted by Jeff Hoffman on May. 23, 2010 @ 10:11 am

If your business is landlording, then you can expect one of your business parameters to be the persistent longevity of the community, which in turn has created the value of the properties you weild. Duh.

Perhaps it does make sense to draw a distinction between investor landlords and individuals who own ONE property that they need to rent. Beyond that, WTF are you even talking about?

Posted by Guest on Jun. 08, 2010 @ 10:00 pm

Income taxes are already too high in this state, both as a general matter and relative to other states. It begs the question of why other states can get by with much lower marginal rates. (And don't blame prop 13 -- while that measure keeps the rates relatively low, our property values are higher so the revenue stream is still high.)

Posted by Patrick on May. 20, 2010 @ 3:01 pm

Why is it always raise taxes or punish the poor? There is another way that no one brings up; punish the banks who built up all the fraud that created all this false debt that threatens to bankrupt California, the US and the World for the next hundred years. Tell those banks that are holding all California's bonds the state assessor has reassessed all property value of the assets the bonds are for and the assets the bonds are for will be 1/3 of their prior value. All a sudden 2/3 of the state's dept disappears and we have a surplus again. The assets where way over valued anyways and this false debt with no security backing it has created the "Bottomless Pit" of over 600 Trillion dollars that threatens the world's economic stability today. See http://www.bis.org/publ/otc_hy0811.pdf?noframes=1 at page 5.

I. Market developments in the first half of 2008
The notional amounts outstanding of over-the-counter (OTC) derivatives continued to expand in the first half of 2008. Notional amounts of all types of OTC contracts stood at $683.7 trillion at the end of June, 15% higher than six months before (Table 1). Multilateral terminations of outstanding contracts resulted in the first ever decline of 1% in the volume of outstanding credit default swaps (CDS) since the first publication of CDS statistics in December 2004. The average growth rate for outstanding CDS contracts over the last three years has been 45%. In contrast to CDS markets, markets for interest rate derivatives and FX derivatives both recorded significant growth. Open positions in interest rate derivatives contracts rose by 17%, while those in FX contracts expanded by 12%. Gross market values, which measure the cost of replacing all existing contracts and are thus a better gauge of market risk than notional amounts, increased by 29% to $20.4 trillion at the end of June 2008.

So my solution to the state budget is to revalue everything, eliminate this false debt, and seal the pit...

Posted by Guest on May. 20, 2010 @ 5:26 pm

I am a former californian born & raised in Lamont & Bakersfield for almost 20 years & now reside in the great state of OKLA. Calif must to the utter dislike of the subject, get rid of all illegals & anchor babies & put a stop to illegal & all immigration until their financial problems are under absolute control. Calif can't afford to support welfare lazies nor can any other State. We in OKLA passed legislation against illegals living here & taking our jobs & money & lo and behold when the laws went into effect ,The problems left the state for the most part. We don't see much of the illegal traffic as was the case before LAWS were passed & ENFORCED. I know that what I am saying makes a lot of you mad as hell at me. Well, I have a strong back so get over it. Also on a side note, you all say that these people are the only ones that will WORK in the farm labor trade so they are needed badly. I have also worked in the farm labor fields doing a man's work. I have toiled all day in the Di-Georgio plum fields south east of Lamont, my home town, also I have cut thompson grapes,throwed vines, pruned vines,worked in the packing houses in Lamont, I have also swamped grapes in 113 degree heat in the fields either throwing field cuts up to the man on the truck stacking or else I was on the truck. I have also cut field packs going to the cold storage at the sheds. Also the potato sheds at Edison, & the weed patch cotton gin. This was done by me in the 60's & I worked just as hard as any man every day. You can't tell me American Citizen's won't do that work. I know better. The problem lies partly due to Employers refusing to pay a decent wage to Americans so they resort to fear tactics of either work @ what I offer or there are 50 plus illegals waiting for your job. To get to the poinjt at hand: Calif is like a huge ship on the ocean and when it is over loaded beyond CAPACITY it will CAPSIZE & SINK. People: Your liberal politicians are going to drown right along side the voters who put them in office. It takes a wise person to admit they are wrong & do something about it. It only takes a selfish FOOL to rebuke wisdom.
I attended all of the Lamont School's plus Arvin & Foothill High, so I speak with knowledge
& experience about this subject. I served as an (Enlisted) Combat Engineer (Bridge Specialist) in Vietnam & fought for everyone's Freedom, There & Here in the U.S. & I love my Country and was willing to die for it. I hate to see people try to destroy the Greatest Nation on the face of the earth. I have not tried to hurt anyone with my comment, But rather to emphasize the need for absolute immigration control, & financial stability.

Posted by Edwardd50 on May. 20, 2010 @ 5:47 pm

Edwardd50 the state's financial problem isn't the fault of the Mexican citizens working in the US this is just discrimination like Arizona has enacted in their so-called "Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act" (known before its enactment as Arizona Senate Bill 1070 or simply Arizona SB 1070) which is a civil rights violation based on national origin, in this case Mexico. Important immigration rights where granted to Mexican citizens under the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo.

The war between the United States and Mexico ended 162 years ago this past February, but in some sense the struggle has continued by other means. The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo ceded nearly one-half of Mexico to the United States - 1 million square miles encompassing what are now the states of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, Nevada, California, most of Colorado, and part of Wyoming. Though the territorial shift was enormous, the treaty itself was temperate. It guaranteed the civil, religious, and property rights of Mexican citizens in the ceded territory. They were presumed to be Americans, at least legally, if they did not leave or register as Mexicans within one year. Article IX declared that the Mexicans in the ceded territories "shall be incorporated into the United States of America, and admitted as soon as possible, according to the principles of the Federal Constitution, to the enjoyment of all the rights of citizens of the United States. In the meantime, they shall be maintained and protected in the enjoyment of their liberty and property, and the civil rights now vested in them according to the Mexican laws."

Regarding those Mexican citizens who decide to come to the US for travel or employment opportunities the Treaty states at Article IX “The Mexicans who, in the territories aforesaid, shall not preserve the character of citizens of the Mexican Republic, conformably with what is stipulated in the preceding article, shall be incorporated into the Union of the United States. and be admitted at the proper time (to be judged of by the Congress of the United States) to the enjoyment of all the rights of citizens of the United States, according to the principles of the Constitution; and in the mean time, shall be maintained and protected in the free enjoyment of their liberty and property, and secured in the free exercise of their religion without; restriction.” Therefore at a minimum the Arizona SB 1070 violates this provision of the Treaty.

Posted by Guest on May. 20, 2010 @ 10:04 pm

that perhaps someone may have brought this up with the federal government at some point?

Posted by glen matlock on May. 21, 2010 @ 11:10 am

Hola.

Yes, we have problems here in CA but this nation is sinking quickly, in case one hasn't noticed. There's obviously money. We have billion$ to pour down a hole in Iraq, Afghanistan et al and for droning and killing innocent people in Pakistan which has greatly escalated under Mr Change, but we conveniently don't have money for what's needed in this nation.

There's $$$$$$$$$ for giveaways and bail-outs to corporations/banks. There's plenty of $$$$$$$$$ for that. The priorities of this nation are quite fuked up. Did you hear that Detroit is going to destroy 10,000 abandoned homes? (Google it).

If one has done any traveling at all around the world, one notices how superior other nations are to this crumbing one. Granted, the know-nothing, willfully-ignorant rednecks like to scapegoat anyone who doesn't look just like them or speak like them, and what they call "English." They want "everyone" to speak "English," when they can barely speak English themselves...and certainly can't write it. Maybe they should try a second language, since they can't master the first one. Illiterate fools.

Buenas noches.

Posted by Sam on May. 20, 2010 @ 10:05 pm

I have a question for all you folks who want to cut government spending. How about we cut the military in half, withdraw all troops from Germany, Japan, South Korea, Afghanistan, Iraq and everywhere else that hasn't attacked us? That would save enough money to fund public services with no tax increases.

Takers?

Posted by tim on May. 21, 2010 @ 12:27 pm

Unconvincing. How does an article about the state budget turn into cutting the military and withdrawing troops? Those are federal issues, not state issues. If you'd suggest something more relevant, like replacing California public employee pensions with 401(k)s, enforcing Prop H, and reducing spending on California public employee wages, I'd be all for it.

Posted by Patrick on May. 21, 2010 @ 12:56 pm

"How does an article about the state budget turn into cutting the military and withdrawing troops?"

------------------------

Duh. Well I guess Tim could draw you a picture, if he has the time. I don't have the time. I don't think anyone has that much time!

Some people are just damn dense.

(I hope I didn't just respond to one of the D and R paid trolls).

Posted by Sam on May. 21, 2010 @ 3:17 pm

I guess you are the only normal person in the universe

Posted by Guest on May. 22, 2010 @ 9:24 pm

People who want to cut pensions forget one crucial thing: Public Employees do not get Social Security, and the State of California does not pay the employer half of Social Security tax for them.

Not only that, we *LOSE* any Social Security we earned in the private sector if we work for the State for too long.

For years, the contribution to PERS (our pension system) by the State was far lower than the 6% the State would have had to pay if we were in Social Security. Some years, PERS was "superfunded" which meant the state PAID NOTHING AT ALL for our pensions.

True, the past year the rate has gone up to 7%, which is 1% more than Social Security. However, in the long haul, the State contributing to a pension system (CALPers) has cost them a lot less than contributing to Social Security.

Also true, CALPers is more financially solvent than Social Security, but that's hardly the fault of State Employees.

Posted by Guest on May. 24, 2010 @ 2:48 pm

That means you aren't paying into Social Security, either.

Saying that CALPers is solvent is belied by the facts. A Stanford study that came out last month said that California public pensions are underfunded by $535 billlion (with a "b"). Stanford calculated that CALPers' portion of that liability was $239 billion. CALPers disputed the study; they then turned around and asked the state to kick in $600 million more to the fund because of their losses. They have since deferred the request as not being politically expedient.

Pensions are going to eat this state alive.

Posted by Guest on May. 25, 2010 @ 8:46 am

Comrade SAM, you don't have time to draw a picture but you have time to write this hate filled crap, you are a real hater !!!!!

Posted by Guest on May. 23, 2010 @ 7:20 am

In a totally corrupt political system like this, with no real choice -- only one of two gangs to choose from, both of whom are beholden to their corporate masters and/or support them otherwise -- you can't realistically expect someone from one of those gangs to openly advocate what you propose, regardless of reality. As the late comedian George Carlin pointed out several years ago, the people who own the country -- or in this case, who own California -- are the ones who make the decisions. Politicians are just there for show and to convince people that they have a choice, when in reality they have little or none.

Posted by Jeff Hoffman on May. 23, 2010 @ 10:17 am

Okay, let's try a state issue: How about eliminating three-strikes and immediately releasing from prison anyone serving time for drug possession?

Posted by tim on May. 23, 2010 @ 7:49 pm