Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Spinach, popular political action figures, and the California voters

The current debate over the 2011-12 California State Budget has now been reduced to examining Field Poll results.

This week's poll tells us that neither the Governor nor the Legislature have a 50%+ approval rating, even though both were elected less than six months ago.

Last week's poll told us that a majority of voters would approve Brown's proposed temporary tax increase extension but a majority would not pay higher taxes because of the budget deficit. Huh? That doesn't make any sense!

Since 2001, California has needed a leader as Governor who sees the bigger picture. So we first voted in The Gubernator and then returned to office Governor Moonbeam, both of whom wanted to be a popular "political action figure."

California voters like people who seek celebrity status, because we know they won't deviate from the conventional wisdom current among us. We know they will not do things that are good for us. We would never vote for a "Popeye the Sailor Man" action figure because he might tell us we need to eat spinach.

Apparently the current California liberal conventional wisdom is that the State getting more money through income and sales taxes is the best available budget solution despite all the evidence in front of their noses proving that bad government comes from a revenue structure too strongly tied to the vagaries of the economy.

Apparently the current California conservative conventional wisdom is that educating and providing for all the children among us is not a budget priority despite all the evidence in front of their noses proving that poorly performing children will result in a poorly performing future American economy - bad for America and bad for capitalism.

The Gubernator action figure cut 2009-10 General Fund expenditures for education and children about 20%, and temporarily increased tax rates and collections generating 12% more key tax revenue than otherwise would have been received. The Governor Moonbeam action figure proposes to continue the same course of action. A Popeye action figure would not propose this action.

Popeye's 2011-12 budget proposal would have been a balanced budget, with all the drastic cuts and with no tax measure. That is the ultimate result of Proposition 13. That is what the voters approved during Brown's previous term as Governor. We have yet to try to live with Proposition 13. We should.

At the same time, Popeye would have shown himself to be a gutsy, responsible leader, giving us a chance to eat spinach. He would have started the process for an initiative for a March 2012 well crafted ballot measure to fix the flaws of Proposition 13 including increasing the 1% of assessed value tax rate to 1½%.

At that point in time, the voters again could become a multitude of "The Decider action figures" by indicating:
  • whether they like the true policy results of the major State government "spinach-free reform" from the last time Brown was Governor, as finally experienced in the form of an all cuts 2011-12 budget;  or
  • whether they would prefer to eat the spinach by remedying our imbalanced revenue system and by properly supporting with taxes the services that will determine the success of the generations of our children and grandchildren.
Approving more spinach-free short term patches like a 5-year extension of increases on sales and income taxes is stupidity. It's simply a bad way to finance government. It's a bad way to avoid the inevitable. But it's easy, and we Californians want "political action figures" that offer us "easy."

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