I would call this the “California is broke” bullshit, but really, only the state government is broke.
Is the state broke? Are you kidding?
Let’s look at the stats. California had a PCI of 39,626 in 2006. That is the most recent year that statistics were available. Using the year to year growth from 2000-2006 as a guideline, we can extrapolate from 2006 to 2009, and get a California PCI of $43,364. California was the 9th wealthiest state in the nation in 2006.
That means that if California was a nation, it would be the 12th richest country on Earth. The other nations in that bracket are Finland, Austria, Sweden and Belgium, all elaborate social democracies with first class public services of all kinds, including health care.
The joke is that California is broke because there is no money to pay for public services. That’s a cruel little number that needs some canned laughter. No one who lives here says that. This state is swarming with rich people. I worked at the IRS for a while and did California tax returns. It is normal to see returns over $100K/yr, and returns of $200K and up were very common. I did a number of returns for folks making $1M plus. This state is flush rich with cash bucks. It’s just that people are not being taxed to pay for these things.
A commenter said that the problem was Hispanics. Another said it was illegals and welfare.
Certainly, Sweden, Austria, Finland and Belgium can easily afford welfare programs vastly more elaborate than California’s, right? Anyway, most of California’s welfare programs like SSI, SSDI, Section 8, Food Stamps, WIC and TANF are paid for by the Federal government, not the state. Medical is shared. The state pays part of Section 8 and TANF, I think, but the bulk of it is federal money.
Hispanics are a problem, but there’s plenty of money in the state to pay for them, anyway, they were brought here in the first place by the capitalists for cheap labor! If Sweden, Austria, Finland and Belgium were 1/3 Hispanic, I doubt if it would break the state.
The illegals are definitely a problem, mostly because they are not taxed. Is there any reasonable chance of shipping them all out of here, something I am definitely up for? Not on your life. So that’s not a valid solution.
We don’t even have ICE raids in this town anymore. ICE ought to come to my town sometime. Close off the main street at midday, round everyone up, and you will probably catch 1/3 illegals and anchor babies. The anchor babies are catch and release unfortunately, but the illegals are keepers. The leftwing notion that ICE holds California in a reign of terror is absurd.
As you can see, there’s plenty of money to pay for whatever we want here in California. It’s just that the Whites don’t want to pay for the Blacks and (mostly) the Browns. That’s the whole story of the politics of this state. I know all about it. I’ve lived in all-White towns here for most of my life.
White California went from being so liberal that they elected Jerry Brown (Governor Moonbeam – who I’ve met, by the way*) to an extremely rightwing Republican group. Does anyone have a theory about why that happened that excludes race?
If you live in a White California town now, everyone is a Republican. It’s lonely to be a Democrat. People will chide you for being a Democrat. “Why are you a Democrat, you’re White!?” they will ask. Indeed. I’ve been told, “The Democratic Party is the party of the Blacks and Mexicans,” by a friend who explained why he never voted Democrat. That’s about the size of it.
The problem with Proposition 13 is the requirement of 2/3 supermajorities to raise taxes. They snuck that in there and got everyone to vote for it on the basis that little old ladies on fixed incomes should not lose their homes to rising property taxes. Everyone I know who voted for Prop 13 was White.
Also, no one got told that business property would reap 2/3 of the property tax reduction from Prop 13. Business used to pay the bulk of the property tax in this state, with homeowners paying the lesser amount. Now it’s the other way around. Is that fair or what? Businesses can easily afford property taxes; they didn’t need a break on that.
Out of staters like to chime in that California has above average taxes. We also have above average incomes. I’ve never heard one Californian complain about the higher than average taxes here – not even rightwingers, and I’ve known a stadium full of them. That’s strictly an argument used by out of staters.
A commenter argued that state employees make way too much money here. How well are they paid in Sweden, Austria, Finland and Belgium? Probably even better. No one here complains about teachers and whatnot making too much money – this another argument used by out of staters.
It’s also used by the rightwing in their war against the teachers unions. The reason they hate the teachers and public employee unions so much is that these are some of the last powerful unions still standing in this country. One more thing, teachers, police and firemen are not paid out of state funds. They are paid out of local city funds. Teacher, police and firemen’s incomes have no bearing on state finances.
I taught school here for 6 years and I never thought I was overpaid. Hardly. It’s true that the prison guards make way too much money, but that’s due to a very effective lobby. I doubt if they are breaking the state.
When Schwarzenegger came in, the first thing this clown did was to get rid of the car tax everyone pays if you drive an automobile. It’s not that much money. We paid it for decades here, and I never heard one person complain. My car is worth $4000, so my tax would be $80. Like that’s gonna break me. It was a fiscally stupid populist thing to do. My understanding is that getting rid of that car tax blew a hole in the budget that is just as large as the current deficit. I assume the deficit could be plugged with the mere reinstatement of this tax.
The state is broke because of the economic crisis, especially collapsed property values, that hit the US. This crisis was caused by capitalists following classic neoliberal doctrine right out of the Chicago School. Nothing “went wrong”, everything worked exactly the way it was supposed to. Neoliberal theory, taken to its logical ends, is supposed to break and explode like that.Crises like this aren’t bugs, they are features.
Yet the nation, from “liberal” Obama on down, all of the corporate media, both political parties and most of the idiot popular culture, is still in thrall to neoliberal metaphysics.
Some people never learn.
Anyway, that’s why we are broke. We could have legislated our way out of this like a sane state except for that damned 2/3 majority and a neoliberal Republican, Schwarzenegger, in the governor’s seat. The 2/3 majority requirement insured a permanent logjam in the budget.
We aren’t broke because of Mexicans (“Hispanics”), illegal aliens (they’ve been here in huge numbers for 20 years), overpaid schoolteachers, welfare (GMAB!), or any of that. We’re broke because of the economic crisis in property values combined with a Depression caused by capitalist bankers gambling with derivatives and the fact that a 2/3 majority left us unable to find a sane way out of this.
Overlooked here is that many other states are also having severe budget crises too. Are they all full of Mexicans too? Come on.
The Republican belt-tighteners would have us believe that devastating cuts to K-12 and college education are just what the doctor ordered. Sure, if you want a Third World countries. That’s what Third World countries do, gut education. 4,000 students were accepted here at the local university, and then they were told that there was no room for them. So they’ve wasted year of their lives when they ought to be in college.
Now they are talking about getting rid of home health care. You pay for it one way or another. That’s penny wise and pound foolish. If you trash home health care, they end up in the emergency room and it costs way more money.
They already got rid of Denta-Cal. OK, so now what? You want a population full of people with rotting teeth? What was the point of that?