Years ago, I was tooling around the streets of Panama City, Panama in the evening with my lesbian buddy in a rented Toyota when we passed a 1 Star Hotel -- The Hotel California. Now, at the time Panama was inundated with mass transit in the form of ChivaChiva buses...old Bluebird School buses marked by murals of local folk heroes -- Clint Eastwood, Madonna, Michael Jackson. You know, key figures in the rise of the Isthmus. Panama had devolved badly, and the old Canal Zone was a great example of exactly how things could go wrong in a liberated, benign (kinda) fascist (sorta) place.
Well, I'm getting those vibes again...only now it's in California. About 11 years ago, I was working with recruiters in Olympia, Washington where we were competing with California for highway engineers. CalTrans had out-sourced a lot of it's design and environmental work, to speed up recovery from the Northridge Quake and the last San Francisco quake, until someone -- probably the AFL-CIO but who knows -- had gotten an amendment to the constitution passed saying that if Civil Servants had ever done the job, then the job was a civil service job. Other states were also in the mix, and California started to hire engineers based on internet applications without checks or interviews. The roads still suck.
I think of this as the state faces a fairly devastating mess. I have thought since coming down here that there was something critically wrong with the state's fiscal situation. I grew up in the NE, where we had high taxes and excellent services. I spent a lot of my life in Germany, where they had high taxes and marvelous, cutting edge, state services. I've lived in states with moderate taxes (Washington, Arizona) and low taxes (Texas) and basically, you get what you pay for. However, in California, you face a combo of very high taxes (how exactly is my state taxable income higher than my federal?) and really fucked up services.
And, baring a miracle, it's going to get worse. I envision mass deputization of militias, because there are no more cops on local payrolls. CHIPs will be patrolling in 87 Honda Civics. The libraries will close, the hospitals will close. Armed gangs made up of terminated grammar school teachers and members of the local PTOs will swarm Rodeo Drive and Mullholland, seeking food. Best thing that could happen would be to have the coastal region fall into the ocean and the valleys flood.
Since California's odd governance( budgets require 2/3 majorities to pass as do new taxes!) combined with a bewildering inability to see further than the end of the dick of the governator, which is not so great after all the steroids, are condemning it to something other than greatness. California is the new West Virginia because of the inability of politicians to say no to their core constituencies. Soon, everybody will be saying no to everything. Jerry Brown and Bob Guccione and Tom Cruise are slouching toward Bethlehem, like a bizarre two-thirds (cause that's all we can afford!) of Dorothy and the gang on the way to OZ. Or, maybe The fourth chapter in The Blood and Ice Cream Trilogy...while California looks nothing like Gloucester, there's a lot of Sanford Neighborhood Watch-thinking in the whole California myth.
cuts home -- and scolded lawmakers for not tackling California's "budget madness" as he has long urged. "Behind those numbers are kindergarteners that are learning how to read, firefighters risking their lives to keep us safe, or health care workers ensuring that our elders remain at home, or our law enforcement protecting our streets and so on," he said. But "we have to only spend what we have." (AXE snark: Arnie is a bright guy, but nuance in a non-native language isn't easy to pick up. Yes, the money in the budget does real things, important things. But, "we have to only spend..." implies that the money is there. It's not. The correct usage would be, " we must only spend"...But, translation is difficult. Are his speechwriters outsourced to Vienna?")
Sunday, 17 Update...
Wisdom. The The old gray lady ponders the political implications. Basic response from AXE, anyone who wants the job ought to be institutionalized.
“It’s not much of career builder; it’s more of a career ender,” said Jerry Brown, 71, the state’s attorney general, who was governor from 1975 to 1983. “But I feel I could bear that better than the other candidates.” (AXE commentary: Prescience. I try to ignore Jerry Brown and wasn't aware that Attorney General Moonbeam was interested in reprising his greatest hits. Who the hell is next; run Nancy since Ronnie is incommunicado?
Yeah, probably correct. Despite the healthy Zen lifestyle, you're old. I'm not sure but what age discrimination might not be a bad idea in political office. Granted if that were true, we'd have a court somewhat to the right of Pompey, but given the nature of things with the folks in charge the last 8 years, but still...Then again, maybe not. Right-wing, occasional good idea generally loony-tune Chuckie down in Tejas is babbling on-line about running for President of Texas. Brown is a left wing, occasionally (often enough to scare) loony-tune who has successfully run this state, run Oakland, and put some malefactors in the calaboose. So, maybe it would work. Or, maybe not...What's Tom Laughlin doing these days?Coven - One Tin Soldier