Thankfully California voters made their will clear, as if it needed to be made clear, that the state’s government needs to come up with a solution to balancing its’ budget that does not involve borrowing money or raising taxes. Unfortunately, unlike the Governor, many politicians and big labor leaders have failed to embrace this mandate for real change. Instead came the age-old mantra that taxpayers can’t have it both ways. “If we can’t have more taxpayer money and debt, taxpayers can’t have schools, roads, health services, police, firefighters, AND NO MORE DESERT!” they say. Michael Hiltzik wrote, in yet another embarrassing LA Times’ cover story today, that it’s all a lie—in his bizarre mind Californians don’t pay enough taxes; and that part of his solution is to rethink Prop 13. Thanks LA Times—with great thinkers such as Mr. Hiltzik downtownster.com is sure to maintain its’ 100 percent monthly growth rate.
First, consider this to gain some perspective: the cuts that the LA Times refers to having to be made to avert “financial melt-down.” The “annihilating cuts” they call them, total all of 21.3 billion dollars. The politicians, labor union leaders, and LA Times reporters, and I use this term generously, all fail to mention that after this adjustment to the state’s budget California will still be spending more on services for its’ residents than it did in the year 2005. If you recall things were fine, maybe even better in 2005, so is this really such a calamity—OF COURSE NOT. Not when you consider that California increased its’ spending by 50 percent over the last five years—far outpacing inflation and population growth. So, with revenue down it’s time to cut back a bit—GOOD! Will 5,000 state jobs be eliminated? Yes! This is actually on the front page of the LA Times as if it were news worthy. THERE’S 34 MILLION PEOPLE IN THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA five thousand jobs lost represents .00014706 of the population of the state, it is of no statistical significance.
But enough of this foolishness. It is easily concluded that the people who make their money off of the taxpayer dollar have an insatiable appetite when doing so. It is not so easily understood why writers that work for the LA Times don’t bother to write about the budget in a historical perspective.
HOW ABOUT SOME REAL CHANGE? California needs to completely rethink how it educates its’ students. By law the state spends more than 40 percent of its annual budget to produce some of the worst students in the country. LA Unified School District (45,000 employees) employs more people in LA County than any private company. Its’ budget tickles the twenty billion dollar mark. And half of its’ students do not graduate. If this were a private enterprise it would be closed down. Can you imagine a restaurant that could not actually produce half the orders its’ customers have paid for? Well that’s LA Unified. Fire half of the teachers and administrators, cut a month off of the school year and trust me things won’t be any worse than they are now—seriously. But as the subject of another blog I will discuss some of the changes that can be made to better educate students. Generally speaking better education should cost far less, although it won’t please organized labor or the politicians that suck on its’ teat.
And yes, some of those prisoners we’ve been locking up to do slave labor for private enterprise might have to be set free. Thanks to the Prison Guards Union and the political nonsense of claiming to be tough on crime, we’ve been in the prison business in a big way both as a country and as a state since 1990. As a country we can proudly say that we’ve imprisoned more of our population than any other country in the world. Woo hoo! The “War On Drugs” which has cost our country 20 TRILLION DOLLARS AND COUNTING (that’s more than our entire national debt) has definitely played a big part in this human / financial disaster. I’ve been calling this one a loser since I myself had the pleasure of being locked up, which cost the tax payers about $500,000.00 in 1990’s dollars. That’s right. While prison guards can easily make $100,000.00 a year with overtime and private industry can contract labor from the prison population at 50 cents an hour—the taxpayer gets to foot a bill that ranges from $60,000.00 to $120,000.00 per prisoner. AND THAT’S WHY OUR STATE IS BROKE! It would be cheaper for the taxpayer to simply pay our criminals not to do crimes—seriously. So again, while I promise to write an entire blog on this subject, the sooner we let out nonviolent offenders the better. Like our schools, our prison system doesn’t work and it’s breaking us.
So the State is going to rid itself of 2 percent of its’ workforce, let forty thousand prisoners out of jail early, and force some school districts that really can’t do worse than they are already doing to shorten their school year and fire a few teachers—IT’S NOT THE END OF THE WORLD !
What it is, is a chance, a chance to regain our fiscal sanity. And it is a chance to put our heads together and really think about how we can change things for the better.
WE REALLY CAN DO BETTER.