Monday, May 25, 2009

Schwarzenegger Targets The Poor.

What the Hell is going on in California?

Californians gave the electoral finger to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Tuesday when they voted against five ballot measures intended to fix the Golden State’s budget drama by increasing taxes, redistributing state funds and borrowing money. On top of already double-digit unemployment, a plummeting housing market and an eroding educational system, the state now faces a budget gap of more than $21 billion.
This seems to me to totally undermine the oft quoted notion that we need less government as the people can manage their own affairs. It appears as if the people of California are well on the way to state bankruptcy because the people, when given a choice, have decided that they don't want to pay their collective bills.

Schwarzenegger it seems will now try to balance the books by removing benefits from the poor:
To balance the books, Schwarzenegger is eyeing the dismantling of the state's CalWorks program, which serves more than 500,000 poor families with children, as well as the elimination of Healthy Families, which provides medical coverage to 928,000 children and teens.

Mothballing the two programs would save the state about $1.4 billion in the coming fiscal year, officials said.

If the proposals to slash the safety net come to pass, they would completely reshape the state's social service network, transforming California from one of the country's most generous states to one of the most tightfisted in aiding the poor.

Also potentially on the chopping block is CalGrants, a financial assistance program that offers cash grants to lower- and middle-income college students each year.

The governor's proposal would eliminate the 77,000 new grants awarded each year at a cost of $180 million, but that saving would eventually grow to more than $900 million as students graduated and the program was phased out.
I find that profoundly depressing. And I can't even get angry at Schwarzenegger, as it really does appear as if the people have left him with no other choice.

Bill Maher sums it up best:
“This is why America’s founders wanted a representative democracy, because they knew if you gave the average guy the chance, he’d vote for a fantasy world with no taxes, free beer and vagina trees.”
California is losing it's collective mind.


Steel Phoenix said...

There are some problems that government just isn’t any good at solving.

We in California are the fifth largest economy in the world, a near paradise of natural resources and farmland, and an educated and hard working society.

The only reason we are failing right now is that when you or I or a company find their revenue dropping, we respond by reducing our expenditures; government responds by raising taxes. We can’t tax our way out of a budget crisis caused by the financial hardship of the electorate. We need to make deep budget cuts. The D & R will never agree on where, so lets just make it across the board. Or we could just spend it all and let God sort it out, but we’ve been trying that for years.

It is an interesting move by Swarzenegger. The problem with being the most generous state to the poor is that it has become a magnet for the unhealthy, the homeless, and illegal immigrants. My taxes have gone up quite a bit over the past year, while my wages have gone down. It isn't realistic, and we have seen a mass exodus of taxpayers, with no reduction in people leeching off the state's generosity.

I don't know if you read the ballot measures that just failed, I did. They were utter crap and would have barely made a dent in the budget woes.

Kel said...

No, SP, I haven't read the ballot measures that just failed, I merely came across the story of what's currently taking place. So, I'll admit that I am no expert on this one.

Why does the state have a budget gap of $21 billion?

That seems extraordinary to me.

Steel Phoenix said...

Well, a few reasons. For one, our country has been experiencing a shocking rise in insurance and medical rates for quite a while now, far far beyond rate of inflation, which doesn't make sense considering tech is making it easier to treat patients and handle paperwork. California more than the rest of the nation has a real excess of regulations on business. They are only moderately difficult on big business, mostly having to do with things like worker regulations, but starting a small business with 1-6 or so employees is horribly stifling.

We also have some of the best social programs in the nation (best if you are using them rather than paying for them).

Combine those with the nature of our nation, where people can simply move from one state to another, and you have a recipe for business exodus and immigrant/disabled influx. When the housing market crashed, it hit us hardest. All these things combined have led to our state population rapidly diminishing, and it isn't the beneficiaries of the social programs who are leaving. We now have just as much government, still giving themselves raises, but being funded by fewer people. How has government responded? by raising taxes, which just fuels the process. Why do they need to raise taxes when our population is diminishing?

Kel said...

$21 billion still seems like an incredible sum to me. And Swarzenegger will have to cut a lot more than the social programmes he has so far mentioned if he is to close that shortfall.

Steel Phoenix said...

Agreed, but I'm not sure this has much to do with him. My dad was a big Swarzenegger supporter, saying that he was going to go in and whip all those politicians into shape. I told him that flexing his muscles and making noise was't going to budge them. I think that is in large part what the current problem is.

I can see their dilemma. What really needs to be done is for them to tell some teachers and police that they are fired. Reduce the benefits for the disabled, reduce government wages, etc. Not a thing to do if you want to get reelected. It is just too much fuel for the opposition. Our government has gone too soft when it comes to making tough decisions.

I don't really see it as a failure of liberal policies. To some extent it is, but I think if the other 49 had similar policies, the stress wouldn't have focused here.

If the government weren't so bloated, it wouldn't even be capable of being that far in debt. The reason the number is that big is because we really do have a ton of large and inefficient programs, and more people taking than giving.

Kel said...

Oh, I wasn't implying that it was his fault, but something is going to have to give to clear a debt of that size. And, no matter how many programmes you cut, isn't a tax increase also required?