TERMINATE 'THE PEOPLE'
OC Weekly's lunatic endorsement of '50s-retro state Senator Tom McClintock for governor is one more denial in the myopic delusion, common to all parties, about the roots of California's budget deficit [R. Scott Moxley's "The Progressive Case for Governor Tom McClintock," Oct. 3]. Decades of unconscionable voter avarice—not the past five years' half-assed funding boost for long-starved schools and services—is why we're drowning in red ink.
The harsh reality is that the most venal, corrupt sector of California politics is the voters. The standard 60 percent to 70 percent majority of several million older, mostly white avaricious crooks have voted for ballot issues (including Three Strikes, Proposition 21 and Arnie's after-school nannyship) mandating tens of billions of dollars in new spending while awarding themselves lavish, undeserved tax cuts that ripped off tens of billions in public money desperately needed by younger residents.
"The people" have whooped for every ballot issue and loudmouth politician champing to pour billions more into building prisons. Then they voted down measures to pay for prisons and approved tax cuts that stole public money used to fund schools and vital services and stuffed it into their own swollen bank accounts. Now they indulge in denial that their own rapacity spawned the budget deficit while wallowing in phony self-pity that they somehow enjoy the right to be "angry."
What unearthly right do today's pampered voters—average age 45, themselves the most tax-subsidized generation in history—have to be angry? The typical California voter is 20 percent richer and pays 30 percent lower taxes to state and local governments than they did back in the golden pre-1970 days reactionaries like McClintock pine for. In 1970, California Department of Finance figures show, the average California household earned $39,500 in income and paid 15 percent of its income in state and local taxes; in 2002, the average household earns $49,000 and pays 12 percent of its income in taxes (all in real 2002 dollars).
It's not big-spending liberals who steered California to dire fiscal straits. The state's supposed moderates and conservatives are the ones who voted for vastly higher spending while butchering revenues. For example, ultra-Left Coast, fiscally prudent San Francisco voters firmly rejected both Prop. 21 (mandating $5 billion in new spending without any new revenue source) and Proposition 13 (stomping state tax revenues downward by a whopping 40 percent) while spendthrift conservative Orange County voters approved both by wide margins.
Voters have abused the ballot box to lock in 70 percent of state spending while requiring impossible, supermajorities to raise the taxes necessary to fund their frivolous schemes. Outside of a few Bolshevik Bay Area counties that voted down both extravagant payouts and selfish tax cuts, the "people" of California don't have the slightest right to be "mad," let alone "as hell."
Governor-erect Arnie's scariest campaign promise is to do the People's will—which is exactly what brought last year's $38 billion deficit to the nation's 14th richest state in per-capita income at the same time we remain mired at 36th worst in per-pupil school spending, worst in the nation in classroom crowding, and worst in library and computer services. We're socking college students with tuitions four times higher in real dollars than older Californians paid three decades ago, leaving tens of thousands of qualified students shut out of classes because the world's wealthiest voters demand "no more taxes."
Too much spending? Ludicrous. The Democrats' biggest sin was failing to sharply raise taxes and spend more during the late-'90s boom. Lawmakers who drastically cut education funding during the 1991 recession piously promised to restore it when the economy turned up. Instead, when the boom economy poured revenues into state coffers, legislators led by Governor Gray Davis lavished the largest tax cut in history on already-spoiled-rotten citizens who were raking in money hand over fist, topped by a morally and fiscally indefensible reduction in vehicle fees now proving politically impossible to reinstate. Rich comic (and Schwarzenegger shill) Jay Leno wins thunderous cheers for whining about paying modest taxes on his fleet of luxury vehicles.
The other reason pampered, aging California is now starving government of revenue is equally disgusting: older whites rebel against funding schools and services for darker-skinned kids—the same kids they expect to pay a gargantuan 15 percent of their more meager incomes for Social Security and Medicare payments to tomorrow's older white retirees.
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The only Californians who have the right to be mad as hell are young people, who are going to be paying for the vicious irresponsibility of their elders for decades to come.
(Males is a UC Irvine Ph.D. in social ecology and formerOC Weekly writer. He teaches sociology at UC Santa Cruz.) R. Scott Moxley responds: Democrats have either controlled California outright or dominated the state since its inception 153 years ago, but—like many on the delusional Left—Mike Males wants to ignore that fact. For him, last year's $38 billion budget deficit had nothing to do with a Democrat governor, the Democrat-controlled Legislature and their special-interest pals. "It's not big-spending liberals," he claims, but rather "conservatives," "mostly white avaricious crooks," "pampered, aging voters" and "already-spoiled-rotten citizens" who have wrecked the state. Ironically, Males describes a corrupt status quo and then faults us for making the one ballot endorsement that would have been a shock to that system. (Few doubt a penny-pinching Governor McClintock would have forced floundering Democrats to stand for something other than their own re-elections.) Noticeably missing from his rant was any explicit candidate endorsement, but that's okay. Because Mr. Males wants to "sharply raise taxes and spending" on all of us, we can guess that he supported a continuation of the Davis administration. Sigh.
DEPT. OF CORRECTIONS
In last week's Best of OC, we got the painter's name wrong: it's Aloysious T. Dougherty.