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The Tentacle


July 21, 2003

Ah, California! Beautiful, But Nearly Bankrupt!

John P. Snyder

The wife and I mixed business with pleasure last week as we toured the San Francisco Bay area. What a place! No wonder San Francisco is referred to by the locals as "The City."

From Napa to Carmel, there is an elegance and charm that is comparable with no other place.

On the other hand, the state is about $40 billion in the hole, the governor, Gray Davis, is popular with only 22% of the voters and a recall effort is in full swing. One must take the beauty with the beast, I suppose.

Governor Davis, now serving his third term, was once considered a rising star in the national Democratic Party. No more. He and his Democratic-controlled legislature have ratcheted up spending to unsustainable levels, even with a large number of revenue enhancements (read taxes). Governor Davis and his cronies make Parris Glendening local positively frugal.

To head off the budget crisis, the Democrats have suggested a number of tax increases including a hefty car tax hike. It has been said that the easiest thing in the world to be is a liberal. It requires no thinking. Just follow your emotions and don't consider the consequences. Democrats in California, like their brethren in Maryland, would rather inflict pain in the form of higher taxes to those who work than to cut back on spending.

That would require too much thinking. People with higher incomes and businesses are fleeing in large numbers to Nevada, which has no state income taxes.

Democrats in California have really taken over. They control both houses, and the governorship.

There are no statewide elected Republicans. They have succeeded because they have catered to the vast number of immigrants now voting and have made sweetheart deals with the public employee unions. Those who don't fit into those categories are left to pay the freight.

It didn't take long for 1.6 million registered voters to sign a petition to force a recall vote on Governor Davis. Democrats have whined long and hard about the hijacking of democracy in California, but an amendment to the states constitution in 1911 makes it possible.

Governor Davis, a liberal's liberal to be sure, has found a way to alienate just about everyone.

Raising car taxes alone would evoke the ire of many Californians, given their love affair with the automobile. You are hard pressed to find autos more than 4 years old in some parts, and luxury cars are the norm, it seems, on the state's highways.

Right now he is vulnerable and weak. But with 3 years left in his term, many don't want to give him the chance to bounce back. But since the best antidote to Governor Davis from the Republican side is Arnold Schwarzenegger, one wonders who would want to inherit this mess.

The California debacle was brought on by uncontrolled spending. Perhaps the 60 Maryland legislators, who are headed out there this month for a convention, might view the situation and learn something.

Their budget woes are an example of liberalism that has run amok. In San Francisco, the homeless get a stipend of $375 a month and free health care. I kid you not. Many have qualified for SSI and other state cash benefits which give them a tax free income. Which explains the street bum who, while sitting near the Fisherman's Wharf, had a cardboard sign which said, "Why lie? ... I need beer money."

Ah, California. So great! But so broke!



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