Wednesday, May 20, 2009

California Leads the Way (Into Bankruptcy)

Greetings from the Golden State. I'll bet they taught you in high school chemistry that gold doesn't tarnish. The teachers didn't know about California. Yesterday the voters of California rejected Propositions 1A through 1E on the special election ballot. Proposition 1F passed (more about that in a minute).

The ballot was comprised of six measures allegedly designed to bring California back from insolvency. Propositions 1A through 1E were a devil's stew of hidden taxes, borrowing, and just plain lies. The voters were told that if the measures didn't pass, California would sink into economic oblivion. Why would anyone vote against his own salvation? Because the ballot gave the voters the choice between suicide by slow poisoning or suicide by immediate decapitation. If passed, the state would have slipped farther into debt, but death would occur somewhere between six months and five years later. The measures all included obvious or hidden taxes on income, businesses, and goods. One measure borrowed money from the state lottery account. Since the state lottery is supposed to be used solely to pay for schools, another measure raised taxes for the schools. Robbing Peter to pay Paul is now an institution in the once-great state. Band Aids on a long term cancer.

The voters are to be commended for throwing the drunken sailor spending spree back into the laps of the people they pay to keep California in good fiscal condition. The politicians had told the people that if they didn't pass the measures, draconian cuts in state spending would be required. They thought cutting spending was a bad thing. They were wrong. Just as they are always wrong about raising taxes or creative "borrowing."

As promised, I will now turn to Proposition 1F. It passed. When I last looked the final returns were almost all in. The measure passed by 76%. It was a simple concept. No legislator shall receive a pay raise during any period in which the state budget is in deficit. Until the crooks in Sacramento figure out how to re-define "deficit," that means that based on current predictions, no California legislator will ever receive a pay raise. Now that's a concept I can get behind.


SQT said...

Oh yeah, we voted all that stuff down (except for 1F). California is strange isn't it? In national elections it's vastly liberal but on stuff like this and Prop 8 the conservatives win the day. I'm not sure what to make of that.

AndrewPrice said...

Great article Lawhawk! You've actually just explained to me (a non-Californian) in a minute, what the national media hasn't been able to explain to me all week.

I think this referendum is actually very significant. When the voters of the most liberal state in the country say resoundingly "no" to tax hikes, guys like Colin Powell need to reconsider their garbage about the party needing to embrace tax hikes. Sorry General, no sale.

The media has been quick recently to declare the Reagan Era dead in favor of the Era of Big Government. Maybe the voters of California just declared and end to the Era of Big Government (2008-2009). We can only hope.

patti said...

HA! i love love love that the scare tactics are no longer working. could it be that california will lead the way to standing and just saying no?! i have to go lay down. my head can't take anymore crazy notions.

Captain Soapbox said...

California being rational? Now that's just crazytalk! But I second what Andrew said about making the voting clearer than the media did. All I saw was that tax hikes were voted down and some other unspecific measure passed. Since this is California we're talking about I was assuming it was granola standards for school kids or the like, but am happy to see it was holding the legislature's pay in check.

Excellent article.

LawHawkSF said...

For those who don't live in California, I can only say that the lefties in the MSM and politicians in the other states didn't want people outside California to know what this vote really stood for. A loss would be devastating to their belief that Americans (as Colin Powell said) really don't mind paying high taxes and having government telling them what to think and do.

After the defeat, the MSM were already in full spin cycle. The New York Times said "A smattering of California voters on Tuesday soundly rejected five ballot measures designed to keep the state solvent through the rest of the year." Talk about dismissive.

A genuine news outlet would have reported "California taxpayers soundly reject new tax schemes. The most liberal state in the union rejected by a margin of two to one a series of proposed changes in the law which questionably would have staved off the state's bankruptcy until the end of this year."

So what was the New York Times headline? "California Voters Reject Measures to Keep State Solvent." They wouldn't want the rest of America to know that even Californians can smell a rat.

Captain Soapbox said...

Well if anyone had any question about whether or not journalism is dead, that reportage would make a fine Exhibit A.

How do they justify using the terms "a smattering" and "soundly reject" in the same sentence? It makes it sound like a few lunatics voted against it and yet somehow these few, these happy few, managed to win the vote. The two don't correlate in the slightest, especially when it breaks down to a 2-1 margin. I mean by current standards 52% is a "mandate" so 66% should be something along the lines of "inconceivably overwhelming" to my mind.

I'm pleased that the vote turned out the way it did, but the reporting as cited leaves a little bit to be desired. And does Baghdad Bob know that the New York Times is stealing his shtick now?

The one thing that gives me hope is that if Californians can keep this level of anger for a few years, then maybe things could turn around there, and if they can turn around there they can turn around anywhere. After all you did give us President Reagan, something we're all thankful for to this day.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps CA is the proverbial canary in the mine shaft if you will, the harbinger of what’s to come in the rest of the country. I’m truly proud of the Golden State, I didn’t think you had it in you. The bad news is I believe as others have said, California will be deemed to large to fail, and Federal Government will come to the rescue of the People’s Republic of California, after all Barry can’t let Utopia fail?

AndrewPrice said...

Anonymous, I sooo hope that you are right. :-)

Captain Soapbox, let me just say that I love your avatar. Fantastic!

Captain Soapbox said...

Thank you, thank you very much. I wish I could take complete credit for it, but like most things I found it randomly on the internet. But I did have the good taste to pick it out, so that's saying something...I guess.

LawHawkSF said...


I have another worry. If California goes under, as it appears it just might, will the Governator go to the feds for a bailout? And if so, does that mean that Ahnuld remains governor, but Obama become's California's chief executive? Not that there's a dime's worth of difference between them, I just prefer my own elected socialist to the DC socialists.

Captain Soapbox said...

Good question LawHawk(e). Hey I had to do it. ;-)

Well we saw what happened when the gubment decided to "bail out" the auto industries, the banks, etc. and demanded that they had control over them in return. If the Feds start bailing out states then I can see Obama becoming the de facto governor of any state that was saved in such a way.

I mean it's not like we don't have enough images of him around at the moment, just imagine the fun we'll have when they do the reissue of the State Quarters set with Governor-General-in-Chief on every coin! Think of all the different action ready poses! Barry driving the Mach-Five on the Indiana one, riding Seabiscuit on the Kentucky one, blowing up a coal plant on the West Virginia one, shooting a poisoned tipped blowgun dart at Dick Cheney on the Wyoming one, hiding super sensitive documents in a vault on the Hawaii one, the options are almost endless...

And for a limited time only, for the low, low price of $79.99 per Quarter the Franklin Mint will even lovingly hand paint each quarter for you, making a keepsake that the whole family will cherish forever.

BevfromNYC said...

Law - Great article! Can you explain to me how your state got people to vote so quickly? I am amazed. Did you actually have to go to the polls and vote?

A note to SQT - There is a reason why this was a conservative victory - liberals only go to the polls once every four years to vote for the President. I don't think that they know they can vote more often. It must be that liberal ejumication they get in the Ivy League.

LawHawkSF said...

Bev: The time to prepare for the election was about normal (a few months) from the certification by the Secretary of State to polling day. We do have mail-in voting which probably speeds up the process, but the polls are open on election day, and they continue to be used. I voted about three weeks ahead of election day.

It didn't get much press, but Californians were fed up with the constant poor-mouthing of the elected officials in the wealthiest state in the union. The requisite signatures were actually collected not long after the Presidential elections, but verification and certification of the signatures takes some time.

Because conservatives, moderates and overburdened taxpayers collected most of the required signatures on the petitions, the validation of signatures went quickly since ACORN and the Democrat machine were not actively involved in collecting the signatures. Nothing like playing by the rules to speed up the process. Oddly, only one one of the propositions was actually taxpayer friendly, but the people of the state were itching for a showdown, so even conservatives were anxious to get a ballot and an election together as quickly as possible.

LawHawkSF said...

Bev: I sometimes forget that Californians are used to this kind of election, but it mystifies people from other states. Ballot measures ("Propositions") come in two forms here.

An "initiative" is proposed solely by the citizens, and requires getting a legally valid document put together, and signature-ready. The Secretary of State must then approve the wording, including the title of the measure, and then a date is set by which the petitions and signatures must be returned to and certified by the Secretary of State.

The second method is a "referendum." The people get to vote on measures proposed by the state legislators, and signed by the governor. This is a much easier thing to do since the signature-gathering phase is eliminated. The ballot measures voted on here last Tuesday were mostly referenda, so it didn't take long to get them on the ballot and ready for election.

In the case of both initiative and referendum, a proposed statute ("law") must receive a simple majority. A change in the state constitution requires a super-majority. That's why you heard so much about the appeal on Prop 8 ("gay marriage"). If it was only a law, it passed. But if, as the opponents contend, it was a change in the constitution, then the ballot measure failed, receiving only 54% of the vote.

The referendum process is mostly used by cowardly legislators who know the people are ticked off, and don't want to vote on something that could cost them their own re-election. So they toss the hot potato to the voters. Later, if the results work, the legislator can say "I really supported this all along." And if the measure turns out badly, the same legislator can say "It's not my fault--I was against it."

BevfromNYC said...

Thanks Law. I was just wondering how it works in other states. I have come to learn that in NYC, that referenda mean nothing. We had 2 of them 1993 and 1996 (?) in favor of term limits for Mayor and City Counsel. The electorate voted yes for limiting the term of Mayor and City Counsel to 2 - 4 year terms. I will write more extensively on this topic, but our own Dear Leader of NYC decided we couldn't live without him and decided, and won approval for through the city counsel, to rescind the referenda and giving himself and the City Counsel another shot at the prize. So at a stroke of the pen, we lost that quaint little thing called "the will of the people". In my fantasy, the citizens of NYC get to show Mr. Bloomberg what term limits really are by voting him out. Like I said, it just a fantasy...

LawHawkSF said...

Bev: That seems to be true in other cities and states as well. For us, it's one of the few things that the "Progressive Era" did right. If the legislature doesn't like the result of an initiative (the result is almost always anti-legislature), they can't just pass new legislation (though they've tried a few times). The only way they can undo an initiative is to put a referendum on the next ballot, and hope they can win. And even then, they have a problem, since a referendum can't go on the ballot without the governor's signature, and most governors are very reluctant to be the single most visible target of the people's ire. We do occasionally get it right.

Dave in Tempe said...

Maybe, even though the MSM refuses to acknowledge it, people are already waking up to the machinations of the Obama administration. People notice that we've spent nearly $20 Billion on GM and Chrysler, and yet they are still either in or headed to bankruptcy. All those billions the Obama administration is spending has to come from somewhere and the folks I know who supported O are starting to quiet down about their fascination with him.

Good signs.

AndrewPrice said...


Thanks for dropping by, come back any time.

Isn't it amazing that we could spend $20 billion to support GM and we still can't turn that company around? How poorly must they be run if they can't make it on $20 billion?

I hope you're right. Actually, let me rephase: I think you're right. I see the California vote as a big thumb in the eye of all of the politicians who thought that the Era of Big Government had arrived again.

Now we just need the Republicans to make that point loud and clear. I still haven't seen them out there pounding away on this.

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