Should We Support This Manifestation of Stalinist Treason?
It’s a good thing the weather’s so damn nice in much of California, because if you had to spend anytime actually experiencing what passes for governance up in Sacramento, North Dakota or even Somalia might start looking mighty good. Let’s face it folks, things are mighty screwed up. And we all know it’s somebody else’s fault, right?
So when anybody talks “reform” these days, it strikes a chord with voters. I hear there are politicians in Los Angeles (boo, hiss) that can take their dog for a walk, call it animal digestive reform and even raise funds off it.
A bunch of billionaires and corporate types are campaigning for “campaign finance reform” behind Proposition 32, when in fact the law is crafted in such a way as to exempt the people funding it. There’s a dude pushing ‘auto insurance reform’ (Prop 33) that’s set up primarily to benefit the company (Mercury Insurance) he owns.
The Allure of ‘Reform’
My point here is that, anytime you hear the word ‘reform’ these days, you probably should be looking around to see who’s out to scam you. Our ‘I’m-Not-Really-A-Republican’ mayoral candidate, Carl DeMaio, has used the word so much that opponent Bob Filner has turned it into a joke at debates, saying the word ‘reform’ coming out of DeMaio’s mouth actually means ‘Real Estate for Manchester’, a reference to San Diego’s self anointed media mogul and downtown developer.
Proposition 31 is the handiwork of a ‘long view’ reform group calling itself California Forward. It’s a package of measures, many of which sound perfectly reasonable. It is, so its supporters say, intended to bring more transparency to the budgeting process while giving Californians value for their tax dollars.
If enacted, it would:
**Establish a two-year state budget cycle.
**Prohibit the California State Legislature from “creating expenditures of more than $25 million unless offsetting revenues or spending cuts are identified.”
**Permit the Governor of California to cut the budget unilaterally during declared fiscal emergencies if the state legislature fails to act.
**Require performance reviews of all state programs.
**Require performance goals in state and local budgets.
**Require publication of all bills at least three days prior to a vote by the California State Senate or California State Assembly.
**Give counties the power to alter state statutes or regulations related to spending unless the state legislature or a state agency vetoes those changes within 60 days.
The devil here is in the details; because Proposition 31 promises so many things and changes so many law/parts of the State constitution that nobody can tell for sure exactly what will happen. It would change things, and for that reason the Democratic Party opposes Proposition 31. An opinion piece in the LA Times does a good job of parsing the prospects:
Democrats run California and have a vested interest in retaining the status quo. In the game of politics, they’re winning here. They have mastered the rules. They will resist efforts to change them.
Republicans are a shrinking minority. Playing harder won’t work; they are losing the game, and they want to change the rules, which they claim work against them because they are written and implemented by Democrats.
It’s like redistricting reform. Republicans saw it as their way back into the game. Democrats hated it because it changed the rules they had mastered. Voters went for it — and to the surprise of Republicans, it didn’t help them much, at least not right away; and to the even greater surprise of Democrats, it gave them a boost.
So of course the state Republican Party is backing Proposition 31.
A Love/Hate Relationship
Ah, if were only that simple. A huge component of today’s GOP absolutely hates Proposition 31. Here’s the reasonable opposition , as expressed in the National Review:
Wake up America. Look toward the regionalist revolution on California’s horizon. In an era of looming municipal bankruptcies, this could be your fate: robbing the suburbs to pay for the cities. The regionalist transformation now being quietly pressed on California is exactly the sort of change President Obama has in mind for America should he win a second term. In California and America both, the 2012 election could open the door for a regionalist movement in hot pursuit of a redistributionist remaking of American life.
California’s Proposition 31 is the project of a collection of “good government” groups, in particular, California Forward. CaliforniaForward says its goal is “fundamental change.”
They’re right about that. The change they have in mind, unfortunately, is creating a collection of de facto regional super-governments designed to undercut the political and economic independence of California’s suburbs. The goal is to redistribute suburban tax money to California’s failing cities. Instead of taking on the mismanagement that is breaking California’s cities, Prop. 31 lets failing cities bail themselves out by raiding the pocketbooks of California’s suburbanites. In the process, Prop. 31 will kill off the system of local government at the root of American liberty.
While you’re digesting that verbage, let’s move along to the more extremist elements, or the Tea Party types, who are circling the wagons in anticipation of the assault on their God-given liberties that will inevitably flow from passage of Prop. 31. From Halfway to Concord, an East Bay Tea Party publication:
This proposition is an assault on personal liberty, property rights and local government control of our communities! We support free markets and equal justice. This proposition uses the UN Agenda 21 Sustainable Development 3 E’s (Economy, Equity and Environment) violating those principles.” says Heather Gass, property rights advocate and founder of the East Bay TEA Party.
Did you know the California Republicans in the legislature voted in support for this freedom destroying legislation? Complete and utter gutless idiots who have allowed the Stalinists running the Democrat Party in California to handcuff our liberty and right to local government and line them up against the wall.
Why We Should Support This Manifestation of Stalinist Treason, According to the Dougchester
Since we’re quoting Republican types here, let’s turn to the UT-San Diego for the spin on why we should support this manifestation of Stalinist treason:
All of those are good ideas, though we worry that opponents may be right in arguing that the Proposition 31 language is imprecise and loose. If the critics are right – and the language of citizen initiatives is often badly flawed – then key elements could be ignored or, worse, turned on their head by legislators seeking to perpetuate the status quo.
Still, we see important promise in Proposition 31. The governor does need more power to cut the budget when the Legislature fails to act. Performance goals and reviews, common in private business, are a good thing for government, too. The public deserves at least a three-day chance to analyze legislation before it is enacted. And local governments do need more flexibility in implementing state mandates.
Seems like the term ‘damming with faint praise’ applies here, don’t ya think?
I’d Like My Reform in Digestible Bites, Thank You
So what do I think? The language covering Proposition 31 is eight thousand words long. I’m sure that the people who drafted it had good intentions, but there are just too many vague areas and the act proposes to do too many things at once for me to have any kind of comfort level with it.
For example, Proposition 31 says that new or expanded government programs must identify funding sources; sounds cool, right? Until you realize that funding (or tax reductions) mandated in voter approved ballot initiatives aren’t covered. In a State where anybody with a couple of extra million bucks laying around can get something on the ballot, this seems to be a very big loophole.
I could go on and talk about how Prop 31 could easily leave the State with a patchwork of county-by-county rules when it comes to provision of basic services, like MediCal or foster care for kids, but I hope you get the picture. I’d like my reform in small digestible bites, thank you, written in language that doesn’t leave me wondering if the wingnuts on the far right are on to something.