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Schwarzenegger cut ALL state funding for domestic violence programs
August 1, 2009 2:44 PM   Subscribe

On Tuesday, July 28, Arnold Schwarzenegger eliminated 100% of California domestic violence shelters' state funding. Ninety-four shelters will be affected, and the cut may lead to domestic violence victims being turned away because of a decrease in the number of staff available, a cut in programs, or shelter closure. StopFamilyViolence.org asks California residents to contact Schwarzenegger and their state legislators and request that the funding be reinstated.
posted by Four-Eyed Girl (175 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
WTF Apna Ghar saved my life.



.
posted by infini at 2:47 PM on August 1, 2009 [4 favorites]


Nice one, Gropenator, you don't hate women *at all*.
posted by Artw at 2:49 PM on August 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


Poor show, though the legislature deserves a good portion of the blame as well.
posted by crasiman at 2:51 PM on August 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


California seems to be an example of what too much direct democracy can do. When there is a proposition to spend money on a public service, people are usually willing to vote for it. But if there's a proposition to actually fund these services with increased taxes on anyone, it gets voted down. Until this happens.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 2:54 PM on August 1, 2009 [26 favorites]


Yeah, this has as much to do with California's completely broken state constitution as it does the governor and the legislature. State government is basically held hostage by every wacko budget proposal that makes it to the ballot.
posted by Rangeboy at 3:06 PM on August 1, 2009 [7 favorites]


Poor show, though the legislature deserves a good portion of the blame as well.

Please explain how. This cut was done as a line-item veto- the "Governor" literally struck out the funding which the legislature had voted to keep.

Sure the legislature is not perfect, but I have heard that kind of apology for our fuckhead governor before and it just baffles me. I blame the horrific system in CA first, the idiots who voted for Arnold second, Arnold himself third, and the more obstructionist republicans in the legislature a distant fourth.
posted by drjimmy11 at 3:07 PM on August 1, 2009 [12 favorites]


I think you are going to be astonished at what gets cut when he's done with the budget, this is just the beginning. I heard a piece on NPR a while ago talking about California's budget, he thinks this is a great opportunity for the state to shrink the size of its government. Dude's not exactly losing sleep over this.

Here in Philly Mayor Nutter released what's being called the doomsday budget, this is what it's going to look like if the city can't get extra financing from the state, which state senate Republicans are trying to prevent:

Budget actions needed without Harrisburg approval of 1% increase in City sales tax and changes to pension payments

Police
Eliminate 972 positions including 739 sworn officers, 43 civilians, and 190 by attrition.

Fire
Deactivate 6 engine companies, 3 ladder companies, and 5 ALS medic units.
As a result eliminate 36 officer positions, 120 firefighter positions, and 40 paramedics positions.
Engine and ladder deactivations will likely result in the complete closure of fire houses.

Health
Close 2 City Health Centers resulting in a significant negative impact on Philadelphia’s uninsured population.
Eliminate Medical Evaluation Unit.
Eliminate 112 positions.

Streets
Reduce trash pick up to twice a month, eliminating 350 positions.
Reduce citywide cleaning and eliminate all citywide support staff, an additional 50 positions.

Recreation
Close all Recreation Centers and cease all programming.
Eliminating 450 positions.

Free Library
Cease operations at all branch and regional libraries.
Eliminating 490 positions.


Fairmount Park
Cease all operations, eliminating 142 positions.

Commerce Department and Philadelphia City Planning Commission
Cease all operations, eliminating 59 positions in total.

Further eliminated positions
Mayor’s Office – 18 positions
Managing Director’s Office – 21 positions
L&I – 6 positions
Finance Department – 23 positions
Division of Technology – 79 positions
Human Resources – 8 positions
Records – 12 positions
Revenue – 2 positions

APPROXIMATELY 3,000 POSITIONS ELIMINATED

At this point anyone working in a state funded position isn't getting a pay check, and won't until the budget passes. I have a friend who works in the welfare department, she and her coworkers are being instructed on how to apply for food stamps as department employees, there's a specific supervisor who is designated for this so the welfare caseworkers don't have to go to the district offices and wait in line with their clients.
posted by The Straightener at 3:10 PM on August 1, 2009 [39 favorites]


and the rich continue to get richer
posted by philip-random at 3:11 PM on August 1, 2009 [5 favorites]


And btw, I just got a bunch of furlough days. As a social worker I can just about pay my bills as is, a cut in pay for someone who makes so little to begin with is so harsh. It's completely brutal in social services right now, just brutal.
posted by The Straightener at 3:13 PM on August 1, 2009


I wonder how many women will die because of this....
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 3:15 PM on August 1, 2009 [4 favorites]


But hey, it's all okay so long as assholes on Wall Street get a 100 million dollar payout. Because they're so worth it.
posted by five fresh fish at 3:19 PM on August 1, 2009 [25 favorites]


Considering all the drastic cuts that California is having to endure in order to pass a budget, I think contacting the Gov over a single issue is going to fall on deaf ears no matter how many people write in.

If it makes you feel better, go for it. But if you want to actually accomplish something, then take a wider view than any single issue--research the budget, find out the many ways in which money is being wasted, then contact the Governator and legislators and voters with a proposal to get your funding and reduce the budget.
posted by eye of newt at 3:19 PM on August 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


Here's the list (.pdf) of what Schwarzenegger's lined out.

Among the funner numbers: $50 million cut from Healthy Families - poor people don't need insurance!; $52 million from the Office of AIDS - who cares about surveillance and testing for HIV?

Christ.
posted by rtha at 3:20 PM on August 1, 2009


I find myself very upset funnily enough. I mean I don't even live in CA much less the US anymore but they were the first people I called when I found out what was happening. I just cannot imagine what it would be like to not have shelters anymore. the thought that there might be nowhere to go - keep in mind if you're an H4 visa wife you very likely have NO family or friends on the continent when you arrive a week after the wedding.

america is broken

obama says you need the spirit of innovation for the future according to some fleeting glance on yahoo news

nay you need the spirit of compassion and a reprioritization of what is important and where the monies should go

not war and violence and profits alone

meh

/ending rant extremely upset
posted by infini at 3:30 PM on August 1, 2009


Pathetic.
posted by R. Mutt at 3:31 PM on August 1, 2009


California is a disaster and Schwarzenegger is a total failure. There's no other way to describe it. Contacting the governor and the legislature is about as futile as tilting at windmills.

And 56% of the voters who bothered to go to the polls re-elected this cretin in 2006.
posted by blucevalo at 3:32 PM on August 1, 2009 [3 favorites]


These cuts have been taking up a lot of my time this past week. The legislature produced a budget that did NOT include these cuts. The Governor chose to go out of his way to cut these programs. Domestic violence programs, health insurance for children, state parks, all state funding for HIV prevention and education and testing, services that enable the sick and disabled to continue to live in their homes instead of going to nursing facilities, substance abuse treatment programs... Much of the cuts are the kinds of things that save money in the long road, by keeping people healthier and more independent. They also mostly have constituencies of poor and sick people - not big Republican donors.

There have been plenty of proposals to fix it, but none are being listened to. The oil severance tax, which even Sarah Palin famously supports, is apparently too much tax here. That would have been nearly a billion dollars, and would have meant no need for all of these cuts. When given a choice between healthy kids and healthy oil company profits, this governor's going for the profits.

Don't get me started on what taxing and regulating marijuana could mean for the budget.
posted by gingerbeer at 3:35 PM on August 1, 2009 [15 favorites]


WHAT
THE
FUCK
ARNOLD?

What on earth is he thinking? There is no level on which this is a good idea. Pitchforks at the governor's mansion, anyone?
posted by Schlimmbesserung at 3:42 PM on August 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


The free market will take care of them!
posted by contessa at 3:44 PM on August 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


Lots of things about the Calif. budget/politics are galling, but what might top the slate for me is the governor's abject refusal to support raising taxes, even a modest increase on people making huge money, even to the level where it was before the last cut.

Oh, someone brought up the question of waste. In at least some cases, it's a myth. Arnie's been spouting off how there's 25% waste in a home healthcare program--but nobody can document this via any sort of study. The state (governor's office?) did order a study which found the fraud/waste/abuse to be about two percent. The report I read noted that all sorts of people have just taken that 25% as gospel so it's become something of an accepted view.)

The "cut fraud and waste" line has been trumpeted for some time, but I recall seeing other information making the contention that it is largely false. As someone above noted, perhaps it's an excuse to go down the Grover Norquist road.

As people have noted, if the place is not ungovernable, it's getting there. The ballot initiative process has been corrupted in a big way; good money to be made as a signature-gatherer (with scads of obfuscation). It takes a 2/3rds vote to raise taxes and the current Republicans act like they'd sooner stuff family members in a woodchipper than raise taxes.
posted by ambient2 at 3:45 PM on August 1, 2009 [4 favorites]


There is no level on which this is a good idea

Well, this could be an example of the max pain theory of government-taxpayer relations.

Don't approve more taxes? OK, we'll only pick up your trash twice a month.
posted by @troy at 3:46 PM on August 1, 2009


What on earth is he thinking?

He's thinking, "If I make these cuts I will go out in a blaze of glory. Just like Harry Tasker in 'True Lies.'"

I'm not kidding about the level of thinking that this man engages in.
posted by blucevalo at 3:48 PM on August 1, 2009


At least the property taxes are low, though! Go go prop 13.
posted by smackfu at 3:51 PM on August 1, 2009


$16 million in domestic violence shelters sounds a lot more expensive than $40 million in emergency room funding. Oh wait...
posted by BrotherCaine at 3:52 PM on August 1, 2009


MOTHER.FUCKER.
posted by scody at 3:52 PM on August 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


What on earth is he thinking?
Well, as he's famously said, the reason that he's a Republican is because Richard Nixon was a Republican. So he's probably thinking something like "These goddamn bra-burners aren't going to vote for me anyway".
posted by Flunkie at 3:56 PM on August 1, 2009


I'm not kidding about the level of thinking that this man engages in.

States going BK is serious shit. The legislature deal included "cuts to be determined later" to bring the budget out of the immediate disaster area.

We either raise taxes or cut spending, or blow up spectacularly. I of course prefer the first option but I also prefer the second over the last.
posted by @troy at 3:56 PM on August 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


I came in here to say the same thing as East Manitoba. There's no doubt Ah-nold's being an asshole here, but the real fault is that of the people of California, who will vote in every fucking new program that gets put on a ballot, but refuse to pass a raise in taxes to fund any of it. The worst is their terrible three strikes criminal law, which has their prisons overflowing and underfunded as it is, and more and more of their already strained budget is having to go to that.
posted by Caduceus at 4:02 PM on August 1, 2009 [8 favorites]


More tax cuts for the wealthy will fix everything when the added growth trickles down to the middle and lower classes! (groan)
posted by Daddy-O at 4:03 PM on August 1, 2009


The Gray Davis recall was given a huge boost by Davis boosting vehicle license fees. That's right the people of California decided to boot out a sitting governor because he raised the registration fees for their cars. Then we elected an action movie star with no previous experience in government. The people of California are getting what they deserve. The only problem is that it's the poor and weak that are getting it first but the rest of us won't have to wait too long.
posted by rdr at 4:03 PM on August 1, 2009 [4 favorites]


Important things are getting cut left and right. Not that this isn't unfortunate, but out of curiosity, I'm a little curious why this is the focus of everyone's anger given the numerous cuts outlined by The Straightener above. With all due respect (and forgive the eponysterics), this sort of OutrageFilter is incredibly myopic, Four-Eyed Girl.

On preview, Caduceus has it.
posted by dhammond at 4:05 PM on August 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


This is similar to what Pawlenty did. Maybe Schwartzeneggar is considering his own presidential bid, and the only way he can compete with Pawlenty is to demonstrate an even crueler hand at slashing government services for the poor and the needy.
posted by Astro Zombie at 4:06 PM on August 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


Maybe Schwartzeneggar is considering his own presidential bid
?


Schwarzenegger can't be President without a Constitutional Amendment.
posted by Flunkie at 4:09 PM on August 1, 2009 [5 favorites]


California needs a new constitution.

(1) A good constitution shouldn't allow a person's civil rights to get voted away with a simple majority.

(2) A good constitution should allow a budget to pass, tax hikes and all, with a simple majority vote of the legislature.
posted by ifandonlyif at 4:11 PM on August 1, 2009 [4 favorites]


I've said it before here, and it cost me some grief, but I'm going to say it again.

This may, in the end, be a good thing. If you really believe in No Tax, No Service government, then you are about to see exactly what it means.

I would be all for this, except for the real suffering it will cause the people of California.

However, the people of California *did this*. They passed Proposition 13. They recalled Gray Davis and elected -- then reelected -- Arnold Schwarzenegger. They supported a consititutional amendment that requires a two-thirds supermajority to raise taxes, but only a simple majority to raise spending.

The people of California, or at least, the ones who bothered to vote, built this system.

It has failed. And, alas, it will be the people of California who will suffer for it.

And that's the price of the anti-tax crusade. They cut the federal taxes, so states lost support. They cut state taxes, so municipalities lost support. Municipalities that dared raise taxes got a bunch of grief for it -- esp large ones, that even in the tax-cut era, send far more money to the Federal and State governments than they get back.

We've apparently decided that the only thing appropriate to spend tax money on is war.

Maybe we deserve this.
posted by eriko at 4:17 PM on August 1, 2009 [30 favorites]


What the hell, Schwartzenegger? What the hell!!

I'm with Schlimmbesserung. Get your pitchforks and torches ~ riot in CA tonight!
posted by garnetgirl at 4:21 PM on August 1, 2009


Yea, please, we can do without a Prezinator!

I also totally agree with Caduceus. The people vote for things they can't/won't pay for. THAT needs to fixed.

I was just a little snot nose in '78, but it seems things having been going down hill since Prop 13 passed.

Getting back to the subject of this post, it's incredibly sad that the people who need help the most are always the first to get burned.
posted by snsranch at 4:22 PM on August 1, 2009


Maria?
posted by R. Mutt at 4:22 PM on August 1, 2009


Schwarzenegger can't be President without a Constitutional Amendment.

It's like the one case I side with Birthers on.
posted by graventy at 4:36 PM on August 1, 2009


The Birthers probably think he can be President.
posted by Flunkie at 4:36 PM on August 1, 2009 [11 favorites]


Meanwhile, in Structural Reform Land, the Constitutional Amendment signature gathering for Repeal of Two-Thirds Legislative Vote Requirement just failed as of 07/30/09.

Can someone please just nuke the CA Constitution (or Sacramento) from orbit?
posted by benzenedream at 4:42 PM on August 1, 2009


I haven't seen his birth certificate. Maybe Schwartzeneggar was born here.
posted by Astro Zombie at 4:44 PM on August 1, 2009 [6 favorites]


Flunkie: The Birthers probably think he can be President.

What did you think they meant by being "born-again"?
posted by Riki tiki at 4:44 PM on August 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


Who was it? Krugman? Someone was saying, back when all the chips were falling and they were trying to cover all the damage with a TARP, that what Obama SHOULD do, MUST do, is have the Federal Government guarantee all state budgets to be funded at their then current levels. This would avoid the trap of all these states having balanced budget amendments, which creates an avalanche effect of budget tightening, job loss, reduced income, shrinking economy which California is about to begin.

Obama didn't do that. But he should have. Think how much better off everyone would be if all the states could continue to fund education to the already pathetic levels it had been funded before the New Economy took over. Or if they could just fucking afford to pay their workers and debtors, rather than writing IOUs and closing underfunded social services.

It was one hell of a big "drop the ball" moment. The fallout from this is not going to be pretty.
posted by hippybear at 4:48 PM on August 1, 2009


We either raise taxes or cut spending, or blow up spectacularly. I of course prefer the first option but I also prefer the second over the last.

The last option is actually "Borrow Money". In CA's case a bond issue couldn't pass.

And by the way, there was actually an election just a few months ago that would have tried to raise money through a variety of methods, including taxes and (I think?) a bond issue. But it was voted down. A friend of mine from CA didn't even know an election was going on.

So the voters in CA had an option to avoid all this, but didn't take it.

But requiring 2/3rds majority to raise taxes is pretty lame. Ballot initiatives ought to be scored CBO style and the pricetag should be printed right on the ballot. Above a certain price, the initiative ought to require new taxes to pay for it.
posted by delmoi at 4:48 PM on August 1, 2009


My cousin lives in California. She's been talking recently about moving out here to Georgia where me and her sisters are, 'cause Georgia sounds saner these days. That's damn scary.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:52 PM on August 1, 2009 [9 favorites]


Obama didn't do that. But he should have. Think how much better off everyone would be if all the states could continue to fund education to the already pathetic levels it had been funded before the New Economy took over.

The president dosn't set the budget. Obama couldn't have "guarenteed state budges be funded at their current levels" if he wanted to. What he did do was propose a huge stimulus bill, which included a lot of money for states. Then centrists, including Ben Nelson and Olympia Snow demanded the funding to states go down before they voted for it. Why? They never really explained it, but mostly so they could look like heroes to the "budget hawks" There wasn't really any rational reason.

If you want to blame someone, blame Ben Nelson, the senator from Nebraska. There were a couple other democrats loosely coupled with this, including Clare McCaskill and "democrat" Joe Lieberman. But Nelson was the last democratic holdout.
posted by delmoi at 4:53 PM on August 1, 2009 [4 favorites]


dhammond, I do agree that the other cuts are important, and, yes, they should be addressed also. I phrased the post as I did because this is a cut that I believe is especially ridiculous. I focused on this issue because it is an issue I personally am passionate about. I grew up in a violent home, I volunteered in a domestic violence men's program, I teach about the issue in my classes, I have researched its impact on children in my professional work, and I am currently working with a local shelter on their DELTA advisory group. I am not an authority on any of the other budget cuts, and I did not believe I should be the one to discuss those. I felt that I could discuss this one.
posted by Four-Eyed Girl at 4:53 PM on August 1, 2009 [6 favorites]


California does not have to balance the budget. The problem is that we can't raise taxes with a 2/3rd majority in the legislature. For once I'm going to agree with the conservatives and say that there's no way the federal government should come in to fix the mess we created.
posted by rdr at 4:54 PM on August 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


Kentucky's not looking so bad, these days. Damn.
posted by dilettante at 5:28 PM on August 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


It really is time for someone to record a new version of "California Über Alles."
posted by camcgee at 5:32 PM on August 1, 2009 [3 favorites]


there was actually an election just a few months ago that would have tried to raise money through a variety of methods

There was an election a few months ago in which Schwarzenegger and the raise-no-taxes crowd in the legislature tried to duck the responsibility for raising taxes by making them ballot measures so they could say "we had no choice! the people have spoken! our hands were tied!"

But they were the ones who stonewalled every budget proposal because they wouldn't budge on what we obviously need -- increased taxes.

Schwarzenegger doesn't learn from his mistakes.
posted by Zed at 5:43 PM on August 1, 2009


The scariest part about this is how no one seems to understand that all we're seeing in California is a microcosm of what's soon to happen with the entire country. Obama needs to raise taxes. He's not going to. We're all fucked in a short amount of time.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 5:43 PM on August 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


Obama needs to raise taxes. He's not going to.

No, he doesn't need to raise taxes. He could just decide to reduce the military might of America from ten times that of the rest of the world combined to two times that of the rest of the world combined. That would probably be what, trillions of dollars of defense spending that would easily pay for all his proposed health, education, energy programs and then some.

But for such a policy to be workable, the majority of Americans would actually have to start giving a shit about the actual collective state of the nation. For decades now, the majority of American citizens think primarily of themselves and that's it. People see this kind of thing and say, "well, I'm not an abused woman, so this doesn't affect me, so why should I pay for it?" not even considering that the odds are nearly 100% that at some point in their lives they will be something that will require the collective mercy, generosity, and empathy to get through.

The political culture in America (which everyone thought would radically change or be radically changed by Obama) is still not only heartless, but shortsighted in this way.

And I think eriko and others who have said similar things above are right. Obama can't change this culture. Only clear, obvious, and seriously painful effects of it can cause change. Things aren't yet bad enough, things haven't hit rock bottom. But that's what it usually gets to make humans actually change.
posted by notswedish at 5:55 PM on August 1, 2009 [17 favorites]


The reality is that the majority of Californians support (pdf of Field poll) raising taxes on a number of things (including marijuana). The minority of Republican in the legislature do not. It is a misrepresentation to say that Californians don't prefer higher taxes to some of these budget cuts. A misrepresentation that our current Governor trots out at any possible occasion.
posted by gingerbeer at 6:01 PM on August 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


delmoi: you are correct, and I was not trying to place blame upon Obama for not doing something he could not have done. But he could easily have set an agenda wherein the needed pressure was placed on Congress to do exactly the kind of budget guarantees I'm speaking of.

I don't think there is anything about the stimulus package, either in the form in which it was proposed or the form in which it was passed, which did anything to help the States meet their budgets, was there? I thought it was all designed to be spending which was beyond the already-designed state budgets. Specifically putting in funds to help the states keep from doing what CA (and nearly every other state) is doing right now... THAT is what we needed.

But I wasn't blaming Obama. I was using him as a symbol for "those people in that place which keep doing shit that doesn't make sense but keeps fucking up our lives." I mean, seriously... the ONLY program which has a public face for "doing well" is the Cash For Clunkers program? And even that was not funded as it should have been?
posted by hippybear at 6:04 PM on August 1, 2009


States going BK is serious shit.

Not sure why you referenced my previous comment in saying that. I am aware of the direness of California's budget crisis. The governor is not dealing with the crisis in a way that any governor would have who had actually run something other than his mouth before he was elected.
posted by blucevalo at 6:06 PM on August 1, 2009


The reality is that the majority of Californians support (pdf of Field poll) raising taxes on a number of things (including marijuana).

But that's not what the Field Poll you linked to says. If a majority of Californians supported raising taxes, California would not be in this situation. The poll actually says that "a large majority prefers resolving the state budget deficit mostly through spending cuts than through tax increases."
posted by blucevalo at 6:10 PM on August 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


That's right the people of California decided to boot out a sitting governor because he raised the registration fees for their cars.

Not just that, dude had been re-elected less than a year before he was recalled.
posted by kirkaracha at 6:11 PM on August 1, 2009


I really hoped that, if anything good was going to come of the Katrina disaster, it would be a greater realization of and appreciation for what happens when you weaken the government. Talk about drowning the government in a bathtub, we had people drowning in the streets of New Orleans. Where was the invisible hand? Sure as fuck wasn't bailing people out in the 9th Ward.
posted by kirkaracha at 6:14 PM on August 1, 2009 [4 favorites]


> The political culture in America (which everyone thought would radically change or be radically changed by Obama)

Nitpicking, but I'd be surprised if anybody had believed this. Political cultures don't radically change.
posted by xorry at 6:18 PM on August 1, 2009


Next door here in Arizona, we're going through our very own state budget crisis. Serious cuts to education funding. The Republican-controlled State Lege is chronically incapable of balancing a budget without gutting some public programs. When we had Napolitano here to act as their foil, at least they were held at bay. Now that Brewer has stepped in, she's still having the same kind of difficulties with them, but things are going downhill fast.

Brewer has been pushing for a 1-cent sales tax increase to help preserve some of the spending. The best the Republicans would agree to is to send it to a Referendum ballot vote. This is a classic crap move from our State Lege: any time they want to avoid taking responsibility for legislation, they send it to the ballot. As a result, we've got a big mess that's just getting bigger.

Arizona may not be too much farther behind California circling the drain. At least we don't have this nonsense of a 2/3 requirement for raising taxes. We just have a bunch of craptards controlling the state.
posted by darkstar at 6:19 PM on August 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


The Field poll also says:

"While generally decrying tax increases, majorities support increasing a number of taxes that are
selective as to whom they would effect. On the other hand, California voters oppose taxes that
would have a more broad-based impact.
• Three in four voters (74%) favor increasing taxes on millionaires.
• Three in four support increasing two so-called “sin taxes” – the state tobacco tax and the
state alcohol tax. Majorities also endorse several other forms of sin taxes that are not
currently taxed, including a special tax on the sale of pornography, which an overwhelming
80% support, and legalizing marijuana and taxing its proceeds, supported by 56%."
posted by rtha at 6:19 PM on August 1, 2009 [3 favorites]


> I don't think there is anything about the stimulus package, either in the form in which it was proposed or the form in which it was passed, which did anything to help the States meet their budgets, was there? I thought it was all designed to be spending which was beyond the already-designed state budgets.

I think this may have been something that was proposed, but not in the final bill? I was just listening to a local NPR affiliate newscast where somebody was talking about how Indiana was able to keep its education budget unchanged even after a 4% cut due to supplementing with stimulus money.
posted by xorry at 6:23 PM on August 1, 2009


The budget catastrophe in Pennsylvania is so sad. I keep thinking about all of the state workers being told that they'll get paid "eventually". But "eventually" won't cover all the repossessions, overdraft fees, credit hits, meals uneaten, injuries untended, accounts closed, evictions, and so on and so forth. What a sad system of things.
posted by Danila at 6:27 PM on August 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


The Field poll also says:

I didn't see that part of the poll. My apologies to gingerbeer.
posted by blucevalo at 6:31 PM on August 1, 2009


Obama needs to raise taxes. He's not going to.

There are limits to what he can do by himself. He needs the support of Congress, at the very minimum. At the moment, their support for anything he's doing is at best lukewarm. How about "Congress needs to get of its collective asses and do something useful for once"?
posted by blucevalo at 6:34 PM on August 1, 2009


That's right the people of California decided to boot out a sitting governor because he raised the registration fees for their cars.

It's like that Simpsons episode where they elected Homer sanitation commissioner over the competent incumbent.

"Oh gosh. You know, I'm not much on speeches, but it's so gratifying to... leave you wallowing in the mess you've made. You're screwed, thank you, bye."
posted by dirigibleman at 6:41 PM on August 1, 2009


Not California Über Alles, but Kill the Poor.
posted by wobh at 6:47 PM on August 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


"That's right the people of California decided to boot out a sitting governor because he raised the registration fees for their cars. "

The registration fees in California were already obscenely high, so it's pretty easy to understand why people would be pissed if they were jacked up even higher. They were REALLY expensive. My last new car in California was about $25k, and the yearly registration fee was... hmm, if I remember right, and it's been about eight years now, somewhere north of $500 annually. It was pretty much eye-popping, so if he was trying to dip into that till again, it's no wonder people got pissed.

Registering my car pissed me off each and every time I did it -- raising those fees even further would have infuriated me.
posted by Malor at 7:05 PM on August 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


Another reason it pissed me off was because the roads weren't being taken care of properly, and hadn't been for years -- so they were charging these enormous registration fees for use of the roads, without actually maintaining what we were ostensibly paying for.

A recent trip across country was instructive. My route took me across Arizona, briefly through California, and then north into Nevada. Crossing the state line was like driving back into Tennessee again. Beautiful, well-maintained roads in Arizona, ancient, horrible things in California, patched and patched and patched again, and then beautiful, well-maintained roads in Nevada. The difference was startling and depressing. You could see that California was in real trouble -- the "wealthiest state" in the nation, too poor to even fix its own damn roads.

So, yeah, if you'd jacked up my registration fees again, I'd have been steaming.
posted by Malor at 7:12 PM on August 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


Steaming enough to replace your governor with Arnold Schwarzenegger?

Or maybe just Gary Coleman?
posted by Flunkie at 7:15 PM on August 1, 2009


Mary Carey would've been a better governor than Arnold Schwarzenegger.
posted by blucevalo at 7:16 PM on August 1, 2009 [6 favorites]


Crossing the state line was like driving back into Tennessee again.

Speaking as a recent transplant from California to Tennessee, I can attest that the roads that I've driven are much better here, and when they break, TDOT fixes them right away (whereas it can take forever for a road to get fixed in California if it's not in Los Angeles County). Don't even get me started on the commute situation.
posted by blucevalo at 7:19 PM on August 1, 2009


We either raise taxes or cut spending, or blow up spectacularly. I of course prefer the first option but I also prefer the second over the last.

in the long run, i'm afraid the 2nd and the last are identical - if we're not willing to pay what it costs to have an effective government then things will decay and things will blow up

and the long run isn't all that long any more - 5 years at most

---

California needs a new constitution.

i think some of our more crisis ridden states, including mine (michigan), ought to move to a parliamentary government in which if budgets don't pass, the government dissolves, and one party is in control of the executive and the legislature

if the republicans want to block effective government, let them stand for re-election immediately afterwards

it's the whole point of our federalist system that states experiment with various ways of conducting the people's business and we're in dire need of some radical experiments

---

This may, in the end, be a good thing. If you really believe in No Tax, No Service government, then you are about to see exactly what it means.

you get what you pay for - period

Maybe we deserve this.

agreed - people need to understand that if they want society to keep going on a decent basis that they have to pay something to do it - and no whining about how they're being made to do it at "gunpoint"

it's a lot better to do it at some metaphorical governmental "gunpoint" than to be faced with a dictatorship that will force you to without any vote at all

and mark my words - if we don't take responsiblity for ourselves as a people - meaning we put our cash on the line and raise taxes - we are heading for a dictatorship that will force us to do what we should have done for ourselves

of course, that's what some on the right really want - either to rebel against or to run themselves - i won't say they wouldn't be able to rebel against it, but they sure as hell aren't going to be the ones who will run it - no it'll be corporate fascism and many so-called liberals will gladly join in on the crusade to save us from ourselves

what dire, dire consequences an unwillingness to be disciplined and shoulder our responsibilities may cause
posted by pyramid termite at 7:21 PM on August 1, 2009 [6 favorites]


darkstar: Arizona may not be too much farther behind California circling the drain. At least we don't have this nonsense of a 2/3 requirement for raising taxes. We just have a bunch of craptards controlling the state.

Actually, we do have a two-thirds requirement, at least with the legislature. This state is descending into bizarro world, with the legislature looking to cut taxes despite the $3 billion deficit. Now they're looking to sell the state Capitol buildings. And they want to slash the hell out of education even further. They also want the voters to allow cuts to voter-protected funding to education - which the voters protected specifically because of this slash-and-burn mentality.
posted by azpenguin at 7:37 PM on August 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm bothered by blatant federal moral hazard in state behavior. States act like psychopaths or children when there's the hope of federal money. Some states have plenty of "shovel ready" reinvestment act projects because they neglected infrastructure. My understanding is that GA basically steals its welfare block grant. As an IL resident, I'd be friendly to a 5 year federal takeover of the state. Some kind of strings, "You get X in grants, but we get to tap public officials' phones, redistricting, and a ban on patronage hiring."
posted by a robot made out of meat at 7:44 PM on August 1, 2009


This state is descending into bizarro world

Welcome to California!
posted by blucevalo at 7:54 PM on August 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


I don't think there is anything about the stimulus package, either in the form in which it was proposed or the form in which it was passed, which did anything to help the States meet their budgets, was there?

Um, only 180 billion. Originally, it was going to be a lot more.
posted by delmoi at 8:12 PM on August 1, 2009


You could see that California was in real trouble -- the "wealthiest state" in the nation, too poor to even fix its own damn roads.

So, yeah, if you'd jacked up my registration fees again, I'd have been steaming


You're mad about how bad the roads are, and so you want to fix things by... having them spend less on roads? Yeah, that makes a lot of sense.
posted by delmoi at 8:22 PM on August 1, 2009 [4 favorites]


Don't blame me. I protested the asshole easily several dozen times.

Maybe now we can finally, once and for all, retire the old, erroneous stereotype of California's extreme left-wing political leanings.
posted by univac at 8:59 PM on August 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


Mervin Field (of the Field Poll):
Q: So, to paraphrase Dickens, are these the best of times or the worst of times? Or is it somewhere in between?

A: I see it as the worst of times. Thinking back, I can't see any other time when the challenges to California, the way things are going now, have been so severe.

Q: But at least we can still brag about being from sunny, hip, cutting-edge California, can't we?

A: It used to be I'd go places and people would say, "Where are you from?" I'd say, "California" and they'd be, "Ah, gee, aren't you lucky." Now it's ridicule.
posted by blucevalo at 9:16 PM on August 1, 2009


erroneous stereotype of California's extreme left-wing political leanings

They exist, but are counterbalanced by the assholes of Orange County and the transdimensional Texas that magically overlays the Central Valley, plus a moderate helping of libertarian whackos up in the mountains.
posted by @troy at 9:18 PM on August 1, 2009 [10 favorites]


You're mad about how bad the roads are, and so you want to fix things by... having them spend less on roads? Yeah, that makes a lot of sense.

Actually the VLF is a general revenue sharing thing AFAIK. It was instituted @ 2% pa to pay for social programs back in the day. The gas tax, also AFAIK, is the one earmarked for roads.
posted by @troy at 9:20 PM on August 1, 2009


California needs a new constitution.

It's not the matrix, it's the entities within.
posted by @troy at 9:22 PM on August 1, 2009


the "wealthiest state" in the nation, too poor to even fix its own damn roads.

well, to be honest, nobody here in CA really gives a care about the roads of BFE desert places.
posted by @troy at 9:24 PM on August 1, 2009


How much have they reduced Schwarzenegger and the Congress' salaries by?
posted by Evilspork at 9:25 PM on August 1, 2009 [3 favorites]


I just wanted to point out that Austrians think the man is a bad fucking joke.
posted by dunkadunc at 9:25 PM on August 1, 2009 [3 favorites]


You're mad about how bad the roads are, and so you want to fix things by... having them spend less on roads? Yeah, that makes a lot of sense.

No, they had plenty of money to fix the roads. They stole it to pay for unrelated shit.

They'd raise my car registration and they still wouldn't fix the roads.
posted by Malor at 9:27 PM on August 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


The registration fees in California were already obscenely high, so it's pretty easy to understand why people would be pissed if they were jacked up even higher. They were REALLY expensive. My last new car in California was about $25k, and the yearly registration fee was... hmm, if I remember right, and it's been about eight years now, somewhere north of $500 annually.

Actually the VLF was 2%, then lowered to 0.5% during the dotcom boomtimes of 1998, then 2002-2003 Davis mooted raising them back to 2%. This April they went up to 1.6%. (All %s IIRC.)
posted by @troy at 9:28 PM on August 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


No, he doesn't need to raise taxes. He could just decide to reduce the military might of America from ten times that of the rest of the world combined to two times that of the rest of the world combined. That would probably be what, trillions of dollars of defense spending that would easily pay for all his proposed health, education, energy programs and then some.

We're spending north of $700B/yr on defense. Note that even when we make bombs this money isn't shovelled into a bonfire but every step of the way real US citizens are cashing paychecks, so AFAICT this $700B/yr is directly and indirectly supporting ~15M jobs @ $50K per.

Being on topic, I was around in CA during the post-Reagan defense scaleback and it really did a number to the CA economy.

Sure, I'd like to see the "defense" (who are we defending???) budget cut to around $200B. This would involve downgrading the US Army into a mostly-reserve force, the Navy from 12 carriers to perhaps 4, the USAF only really keepings its Space Command. (I'd keep the Marines as-is for the go-to expeditionary force for old times' sake.)

But to get from here to there is going to take decades, not quarters.
posted by @troy at 9:36 PM on August 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


Keep in mind that Prop 13's function is to stop people from being priced out of their homes by property tax which is a noble goal.

IMHO payroll tax is something that can always be milked and should be at least double what it is now.
posted by Talez at 9:41 PM on August 1, 2009



This may, in the end, be a good thing. If you really believe in No Tax, No Service government, then you are about to see exactly what it means.

Things aren't yet bad enough, things haven't hit rock bottom. But that's what it usually gets to make humans actually change.


I think this grossly overestimates people's ability to judge cause and effect. More likely to happen is "things are bad! Lets blame people who are even worse off and can't fight back!" and then things get even more insane and scary.

God. I'm visiting California right now and I've got a permanent "WTF" expression from reading the news and listening to people. God, listening to the state workers is like listening to some future-serf class forming. Goddamnit it.
posted by The Whelk at 9:42 PM on August 1, 2009


If you really believe in No Tax, No Service government, then you are about to see exactly what it means.

It means that "No Tax" miraculously collects 11% of state GDP, more than "Tax" has usually collected for decades? Sorry to spoil your beautiful narrative with ugly facts.

I'd say that "No Tax, No Service" means that:

When GDP is growing much faster than population times consumer price index, a responsible course of action would be to assume that you're in a boom or a bubble, run a budget surplus instead of increasing expenditures to match revenues, and save money for when it's more needed during the subsequent bust. The person who tells you that you can afford to spend all the money you make during good times and plan for the money to keep coming in faster later is, at best, self-deluded, whether they work in realty or politics.

Of course, deluding one's self is at least better than deluding others. And it seems hard to buy the idea that, when your problem is revenues dwindling to 2006 levels, the solution is to eliminate a program dating back to 1996...
posted by roystgnr at 10:17 PM on August 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


Tax increases will not happen in California as long as the current crop of Republicans have the ability to put a stop to them. The state party has made it clear that they will quickly replace anybody in their caucus who argues or even makes a peep in favor of higher taxes.
posted by blucevalo at 10:18 PM on August 1, 2009


.

For the woman and children will be hurt and die. Thanks, Compassionate Conservatives!
posted by dejah420 at 10:39 PM on August 1, 2009 [2 favorites]


Crom, what an asshole.
posted by homunculus at 10:58 PM on August 1, 2009 [7 favorites]


I can't wait to get the fuck out of this state. I've spent a miserable decade here in this soulless backwater.

The people of this state are getting exactly what they deserve. This is what happens when you're too fucking stupid, selfish, and self-absorbed to wake up and do the right thing. Good riddance to bad rubbish.
posted by perilous at 11:07 PM on August 1, 2009


What terrifies me is that certain experiences, the result of certain political mores and morals, are apparently not painting a stark picture for Canadians. We keep electing people who are political siblings to the crazy-ass politicians all y'all got down there.

We Canucks lag the USA politically by five to ten years. We should be able to see that you tried X and got result Y, Y generally being something along the lines of "really fucked-over." We should be able to say to ourselves, "A-ha! We should not do that! It was a bad idea!"

But, no, it seems to me that Canadian society keeps electing those people who will hurt us the most. We Canucks saw what happens when you elect a Bush. And then we friggin' elected the candidate who was most likely to do the same stupid things! ffswtfbbqcanada?

Something is broken in our culture or our political systems. How in the hell can we keep electing people who are so incredibly bad for us? How can we persist in not learning from our mistakes. What is going wrong? Am I wrong — am I in the minority? This sort of thing really is what most people want? I find it impossible to believe. ?!?

I just can't make sense of society. No wonder I hate being around people: apparently I am to believe that if democracy is working, the majority of the population are greedy, hateful people electing greedy, hateful leaders.
posted by five fresh fish at 12:26 AM on August 2, 2009 [2 favorites]


Oh, and blaming Schwarzenegger for this is ludicrous. He asked the voters what they wanted done -- they put six different ways of increasing revenues in front of the voters, and every one of them was defeated.

At that point, you have to start slashing and burning. And don't you dare point fingers at anyone or anything but the people of California, who are too too fucking stupid to realize that they have to pay for what they want, that wealth doesn't appear miraculously from nowhere.

You can blame the legislators for failing to educate the public, and for failing to force this crisis much sooner, when there was still some room to not, you know, starve your own employees by putting the welfare workers on food stamps because they're going to starve without them. The bullshit in that is beyond imagination.

But the core bullshit is the people in California. It's government of, by, and for the people, and there is nobody else to blame. The California initiative process means that a very large number of expenditures are required by law, and legislators have little ability to cut those programs. It's not that they're cutting these worthwhile-but-small programs because they really want to, they're doing it because they must. They have few options when so many of their expenditures are forced by legislation.

The voters chose these cuts, and they chose to overspend during the boom years. Scorn them, not the people running the budget, who are doing the best they can with handcuffs on. When you have no money, that means even little programs have to go away, because there is no money. If the program is "just" forty million or just forty cents, there is no money. Conjuring forty cents from nothing works no better than conjuring forty million or forty billion.

That only works for the Federal government -- whose economc position makes the California budget look like Warren Buffett's balance sheet. Pay attention to what's happening in California, and remember it when events finally force the Federal government to start facing reality.
posted by Malor at 12:35 AM on August 2, 2009 [8 favorites]


Hey California!

Surprised?

Really?

You elected Arnold. Fucking. Schwarzenegger. Yeah, maybe he was a better ballot choice than Gary Coleman or that porn starlet. Maybe.
posted by item at 1:44 AM on August 2, 2009


WA used to have progressive vehicle registration, which I really liked. You can afford a new BMW? Great! Pay $1500 a year to register it. Drive a ten year old Civic? Pay $50 a year. It was a sliding scale based on original MSRP. But it made the rich people unhappy, so douchebag initiative guy got an initiative on the ballot promising $30 registration, and we nearly drowned in rich guy ejaculate. So now we have flat fees for tabs, and had to go find the money in a different place. That was years ago.

Have people always hated paying taxes this much? It seems like such an odd thing, especially when our taxes are among the lowest in the industrialized world. I guess we're all just greedy fuckers.
posted by maxwelton at 3:18 AM on August 2, 2009 [2 favorites]


Seconding Malor's post above re both non-discretionary (legislated) programs and the six different ballot options, five of which would have made CA's pain much less right now (the 6th IIRC would have cut the salaries of legislators).

When you put the question to the people five times about whether they'd like to either have more taxes or borrow money, and they say no each time, and you're out of money, then you wind up where California is now. Arnold didn't get us here, and he's not going to get us out, either.

Maybe, maybe stories like this will finally get voters motivated to raise taxes, perhaps even to the point of killing Prop 13, or at least raising the allowable annual increase in property taxes.
posted by zippy at 3:38 AM on August 2, 2009


Keep in mind that Prop 13's function is to stop people from being priced out of their homes by property tax which is a noble goal.

Wait, what? I'm not usually one to spout cliche but you know that one that goes "The road to hell is paved with good intentions"? Yeah.

Prop 13 has been an unmitigated disaster and started the ball rolling on this entire mess. It's true that some people would have been priced out of their homes without prop 13. It's also true that prop 13 has contributed to the absurd bubble in California housing prices and to the insane budget problems we're having now. I guarantee you that far more people have been hurt as a result of prop 13 than have been helped.

Prop 13 has two primary beneficiaries. The biggest are corporations. That's right; you're talking about keeping people from being priced out of their homes when the biggest beneficiaries are rich corporations. Why? Because the average turnover on residential property is something like 6 years. But commercial land is usually held by shell corporations and crap; the corporation gets sold but, technically, the land doesn't change hands so the property tax is never reset to the higher baseline. So it's a hugely regressive tax and a giveaway to big business.

The second beneficiary, as a group, are old rich married heterosexual white people. At the expense of the young, the poor, singles, and minorities. Old rich white people were far more likely to own property 30 years ago. Hell, they're still far more likely to own property. Prop 13 was, again, a regressive policy that channeled money from the young, the poor, the single, and ethnic minorities and gave it to the aforementioned rich married old white people.

It's a disaster. A combination of corporate giveaway and racist, ageist, classist, heteronormative bullshit.
posted by Justinian at 3:40 AM on August 2, 2009 [3 favorites]


Metafilter: where systemic, multi-decade, failed state & Federal fiscal policies are translated into modern into class warfare.

For the record (and to keep it somewhat on topic) I'm *not* in favor for the program identified in the FPP being cut and I'm not even (thankfully) a Californian. I also will be donating to stopfamilyviolence.org as soon as I generate a one-time credit card # off of PayPal's site (c'mon, no PayPal donation link for SFV?). Did/are you? Or, is that something that only "the rich" are supposed to do?

Despite what folks may want to believe, the government cannot keep printing money to solve problems. Heck, no one will even loan California any money until they straighten up. If it weren't for some very intricate interdependencies, China would not be (temporarily) bailing us out of our Federal monetary problems.

Every municipality, from the smallest town to D.C. needs to push the reset button, figure out what is *absolutely* necessary (and be *really* wise about that determination) to fund and start from scratch. Obviously, neither California (or Philadelphia - from one of the thread's posts) have done that, which has led to this opportunity to name-call, bash and otherwise lead a very non-productive "debate".
posted by hrbrmstr at 5:00 AM on August 2, 2009


people need to understand that if they want society to keep going on a decent basis that they have to pay something to do it - and no whining about how they're being made to do it at "gunpoint"

it's a lot better to do it at some metaphorical governmental "gunpoint" than to be faced with a dictatorship that will force you to without any vote at all


Metaphorical?
posted by BigSky at 5:03 AM on August 2, 2009


The next ballot initiative in CA should be to put an end to ballot initiatives and put the state legislature back in charge. Step two, a politician or two needs to step up to the plate and raise some muthafuckin' taxes so that CA can pay for all its shit.

There's money in the state. Lotsa rich folks. Tax the fuck out of them, I say. 'Cause that's the only strategy that's gonna work.
posted by zardoz at 5:05 AM on August 2, 2009


The abuse that they were trying to contain, Justinian, was that local governments were making up bullshit assessments, using that as a stealth tax increase to fund programs they wanted. Every year they'd come back and demand more and more and more money, and people got supremely tired of it, because their wages weren't even coming close to keeping up. Instead of being honest and passing real tax increases, which voters had to approve, they could jack up their tax base with constant, inflated assessments. Most Californians learned to dread the yearly visit by the county appraiser. Your taxed land value was more a function of the local revenue picture than anything market-based. Further, there was significant corruption among assessors, because they were elected officials.

People were mad as hell -- Prop 13 passed with just short of a 2/3 majority, 65%, with a 70% voter turnout. They were REALLY SURE this was the right thing to do, so you might want to consider that.

The one thing they really, really screwed up in Prop 13 was making tax increases harder than spending increases. At the most fundamental level, that's what's wrong with California. It's easy to spend money, and hard as hell to raise it. And it took thirty years for California's government to bleed to death from this foolishness.

Most of Prop 13 works, but they need to reassess commercial property more often, and they either need to lower the barriers to increasing taxes, or raise the barriers to new spending.... and that's AFTER fixing the mess they're presently in.

Prop 13's original goal was laudable -- to make sure that tax increases are something that voters have to approve, that can't be imposed on them without their consent. That's the best of all possible outcomes. One of America's most sacred principles is that tax should only be imposed with the consent of the governed.

The problem is, they rarely consent, AND they demand ever-greater services, and have a method to do an end-run around adult supervision to get what they want, the ballot initiative process. Any feel-good measure that enough voters liked could be passed into law with no negotiation whatsoever. And they did it. A lot.

And yet, people here in this thread are blasting, of all people Arnold Schwarzenegger for this mess. You people are lunatics. The man is genuinely trying to solve problems; he's gone off in some interesting new directions and genuinely tried to actually solve problems in California, instead of just dancing around them yet again. He's trying to come up with real solutions instead of just scoring points, so the political class in California gets all horrified and starts filling the airwaves with talking points, and you people are just re-spewing out that same bullshit without thinking about the problem or doing any research of your own. The word "morons" comes to mind.

He's very possibly the only politician in all of California who's truly trying to do his damn job, and you idiots don't even have the courtesy to find out what the hell is going on before criticizing. You just take what the media spoon-feeds you, without looking anything up, or bothering to understand the actual fiscal picture of California.

And when I consider that MeFi is, in general, one of the smarter communities I know, I just feel despair to the tips of my toes. I'm actually a little frightened to see this intelligent community being used as tools in this way. You're just parroting what you're being told without finding out about it yourself. That guy is in there, really trying to fix up the mess that other people made, and then a significant number of MeFites are stupid enough to blame him for it. This is an intelligent and informed voter group, and if YOU people can be manipulated this easily, I can't even imagine how bad things are going to be in the janitor and housekeeper crowd.

He's a Republican governor, yes, but he tried to raise taxes. It's the voters that said no, not Arnold. He ASKED for more money to avoid cutting these programs, but the voters said no.

But it's easier not to actually think, isn't it? It's easier to just get outraged and point and sneer and blame the man that YOU forced to make these cuts. But if you're a Californian, and you want to know who to blame, look in the fucking mirror.
posted by Malor at 5:17 AM on August 2, 2009 [5 favorites]


I just wanted to point out that Austrians think the man is a bad fucking joke.

That's Governor Fucking Joke to you.

Keep in mind that Prop 13's function is to stop people from being priced out of their homes by property tax which is a noble goal.

Which only means they were priced out of their homes by other means. Witness the Bay Area, Orange County, or San Diego County -- some of the most expensive housing, per square foot, in the world.

And funny, other states, without such restrictions, don't have people being priced out of thier homes by property taxes in mass numbers.
posted by eriko at 5:20 AM on August 2, 2009


The attitude regarding taxes and government service in this country are basically the same as the attitude of the typical WalMart shopper. I can't understand the objection to paying for things, but damn, when I talk to people that's what it comes down to: I want to keep things the way they are, but I want to pay less for them.

My in-laws, for example. They complain about recycling - why should they do it when Chicago trucks trash in to their landfill? I point out that the Chicago people using their landfill for dumping are subsidizing the cost of the landfill - but all they see is trash coming in and no reduction in costs for them, as if running a sanitary and environmentally sound landfill is free. They can't see how a more comprehensive recycling program would cut costs for them (less trash to dump, so less charges when doing so) or how much more trash would be in their landfill if Chicago didn't recycle anything.

My neighbor, for example. I made a point a few days back about how cutting education funding is a stupid, shortsighted thing to do. He countered with the old saw I hear from so many - I don't have kids, so why should I pay higher taxes to cover those who do? He absolutely could not see that a better-funded educational system translates into so many benefits to society - more education means higher earning potential, smaller chance of ending up in jail, better access to healthcare, etc. - which means we need fewer cops, less demand for social services, reduced cost of healthcare, and all the associated drains on government resources.

I would gladly pay a few dollars more in taxes to ensure that more people get the assistance they need. I think anyone proposing cuts to education as a quick fix for budget issues shouldn't be in office. I despise the people who see higher taxes on cigarettes, alcohol, etc. as methods of fixing any budget issue NOT directly related to the increased healthcare costs of those substances as well - states are using cigarette taxes to pay for road repairs, for god's sake. How the hell are you going to pay for the roads when people quit smoking? I keep hoping that as I age I don't forget these things. I hope that I retain the ability to think on societal terms rather than focusing simply on myself. I keep hoping that we can somehow elect enough people who think this way that it will eventually make a difference.

Then I turn on the TV and see shit like Arnold as governator, eliminating domestic violence funding. Nobody in the general public cares so long as our taxes stay low, low low. And besides, the TV is news is keeping us distracted so that we're too busy asking whether Obama is a real citizen or crying about how he can't buy American beer (as if anyone outside of this stupid country would ever want to drink Bud Light).
posted by caution live frogs at 6:03 AM on August 2, 2009


The "rich" (actually, high income -- and rich only sometimes, and incidentally) are not getting richer in California. Indeed, the decline in higher incomes is the main source of the California budget deficit, because it was overly-reliant upon soak the rich taxes to begin with. If the organic decline in income weren't bad enough, earlier this year the Legislature did raise taxes on the "rich" -- to one of the highest broadly-applicable state tax rates in the country.

In any event, raising state taxes on "the rich" is totally insane as a long-term fiscal policy. There's a reason why most jobs in this country are being created in the low- and no-income tax states -- that lack of a "don't invest here, don't bring your executive career here" sign flashing on the front cover of the state tax code.

If more revenues are required, than they need to be raised with sales taxes or non-business-discouraging VATs. The nice thing about taxing everyone for services everyone consumes is that they'll actually have a vested interest in cutting waste and stopping bad programs from being put in place in the first place. It may also finally bring to the attention of working class people in the private sector that darn few Democrats in state politics are anything other than bought-and-paid-for lobbyists for the public employee and government contractor pressure groups.
posted by MattD at 6:09 AM on August 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


Metaphorical?

for most of us, the income tax is simply deducted from our paycheck by our employers, not collected by agents with guns in their hands
posted by pyramid termite at 6:25 AM on August 2, 2009


The guys with guns only show up if you don't pay, PT.
posted by Malor at 6:30 AM on August 2, 2009


malor, you're missing my point - it's company accountants taking income tax from your paycheck, not guys with guns - just as it's the cashier at walmart who rings up the sales tax, not some guy with a gun - they're both private transactions and in both cases the company isn't giving you the option of "don't pay" - you want to do business, you pay, it's company policy

the whole "they're taking my money at gunpoint" is melodramatic rhetoric, which people often mistake for reality
posted by pyramid termite at 6:36 AM on August 2, 2009


But you don't have the option of not paying, and if you try to cheat the system and they catch you, the guys with guns DO SHOW UP and escort you away at gunpoint.

It's not rhetoric, it's the truth. Laws are enforced by violence, so if you're compelled to a behavior by law, you are compelled by the threat of violence -- ie, you're held at gunpoint.

If the Mafia don tells you that either you pay him or he shoots your family, you're paying him at gunpoint, even if he's not actually physically pointing a gun at you right that second.
posted by Malor at 6:58 AM on August 2, 2009


you're willfully missing my point and i'm not repeating myself
posted by pyramid termite at 7:07 AM on August 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


Maybe now we can finally, once and for all, retire the old, erroneous stereotype of California's extreme left-wing political leanings.
Or maybe finally, once and for all, live up to them, and fix your state.
posted by Flunkie at 7:24 AM on August 2, 2009


The second beneficiary, as a group, are old rich married heterosexual white people. At the expense of the young, the poor, singles, and minorities. Old rich white people were far more likely to own property 30 years ago. Hell, they're still far more likely to own property. Prop 13 was, again, a regressive policy that channeled money from the young, the poor, the single, and ethnic minorities and gave it to the aforementioned rich married old white people.

No, it is not just "old, rich, married couples-- my mom is old but she is neither rich nor married. She is a retired nurse in her 70's who still lives in the home she and my dad bought in the 60's. They bought for it for $18,000 and it is now worth somewhere in the $300,000 because that is the price of real estate in So. Cal for even crappy old tract homes.

I was discussing this issue last night at the dinner table and the first thing that popped into my head was getting rid of the "3 strikes and you're out" rule which has cost the state far more than it is worth. Again, I have personal experience of this. 17 years ago, my brother, the drug addict, tried to burgle somebody's house and stole a bicycle when fleeing the scene. That's 2 strikes against him: stealing a bike, breaking & entering. My mother is always in fear that he'll come for a visit (he lives in Hawaii) and "accidentally" commit another felony.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 7:25 AM on August 2, 2009


The Birthers probably think he can be President.

That's because Australians speak American.
posted by srboisvert at 7:54 AM on August 2, 2009


He really does want to hear the lamentations of the women :(
posted by WinnipegDragon at 8:39 AM on August 2, 2009 [6 favorites]


you're willfully missing my point and i'm not repeating myself

No, he is not. You are choosing to ignore the underlying threat of organized violence which structures these so called "private transactions".
posted by BigSky at 8:40 AM on August 2, 2009


But you don't have the option of not paying, and if you try to cheat the system and they catch you, the guys with guns DO SHOW UP and escort you away at gunpoint.

I'm confused. Am I supposed to see that as a bad thing?
posted by dirigibleman at 8:52 AM on August 2, 2009


30 Years Later: Prop. 13 Still Alive and Kicking

Aspects of Proposition 13 Simply Must Be Reformed to Save California
posted by homunculus at 8:55 AM on August 2, 2009 [2 favorites]


you're willfully missing my point and i'm not repeating myself

Oh, come on. If everyone had this attitude, the internet would completely fall apart.
posted by philip-random at 10:05 AM on August 2, 2009


I'm confused. Am I supposed to see that as a bad thing?

No, you're supposed to see it as a thing, and then sort out better when there should and shouldn't be laws.
posted by Malor at 10:10 AM on August 2, 2009


you're willfully missing my point and i'm not repeating myself

Oh, and no I'm not. You can't hide behind abstraction. Income tax is company policy because it's government policy -- because the government will show up with guys in combat gear if they don't comply. They're under threat of violence, so they enforce the policy on you. Abstracting the guns away by one level doesn't make them disappear.

If you don't have the option of not participating, taxation is absolutely extracting resources at gunpoint. Just because the guns don't appear until you refuse doesn't mean they aren't there when you cooperate.

I'm not saying that taxes are necessarily wrong: they're probably necessary to civilization. But understand what they are.
posted by Malor at 10:18 AM on August 2, 2009


But if you're a Californian, and you want to know who to blame, look in the fucking mirror.

I grew up in California in the 90's, graduated from a California school in 2004. Now that I'm reaching the age where I might DO something, tell me, how do I fix the state I love from a mess I don't remember creating?
posted by mdaugherty82 at 10:20 AM on August 2, 2009 [2 favorites]


Sorry, to clarify: what can I do to fix this mess, now that I feel empowered enough in my life to effect political change?
posted by mdaugherty82 at 10:41 AM on August 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


tl;dr version: Decisions are made by those who show up, so start showing up.

Longwinded pontification:

You need to first understand the nature of the crisis, understand what needs to be done to fix it, and then start teaching people. Spread the word. Find other people who also understand what's going on, even if they don't agree with you about prescriptions, and get them doing it too. California voters need to be paying very close attention to their government; they need to be having passionate arguments at parties and in bars and at restaurants. They need to be sorting out their collective priorities and figuring out how they're realistically going to pay for them.

And it starts one Californian at a time. Pay attention, learn what's going on, and talk to people about it. Tell them what you've learned. Tell them where they can learn more. Your leaders have mostly failed you, with the exception of the much-maligned Arnold, who's doing yeoman work in an impossible situation.

Because your politicians aren't doing their jobs, you'll have to. You need to figure it out, and then tell them what to do. They work for you, not the other way around.

Your success or failure at being realistic, at really being honest about what you can and can't afford, will have a major impact on the generations to come. You may not be able to leave them a better world than you had, but you can at least make sure the parts you control won't be any worse because of anything you did.

It starts by learning and talking. Do lots of both. And do it soon -- you'll need to be making serious and permanent structural changes by next year at the latest. From what I can see, this budget buys some time, but it doesn't really solve very much. Tax revenues should be better by next year, but you're going to need to make deep service cuts, raise taxes significantly, or some combination.

The idea being mooted of a Constitutional Convention sounds very good to me. You could do a ton of good by pushing that idea alone -- and if you do your research properly, you might want to try to be in on it. California's social contract is failing, and a Constitutional Convention is where you write a new one.
posted by Malor at 10:55 AM on August 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


Because your politicians aren't doing their jobs, you'll have to.

I think this is a misapprecation of the situation. 40% of this state -- 80% if dollars were votes -- wants less government and more private initiative.

The only way you get that is by shrinking government until you can drown it in the bathtub.
posted by @troy at 11:20 AM on August 2, 2009


I'm not saying that taxes are necessarily wrong: they're probably necessary to civilization.

you have a debased and cynical view of what civilization is and how it should function - and i love how you can indulge in your artificial rhetoric and then turn around and criticize me for "abstraction"

because, after all, somalia is full of people who are forcing one another to do things by gunpoint, and yet there is not much of a government is there?

hmm, perhaps something else is necessary besides thugs with guns to keep a government going? - perhaps something like good will, an appreciation of the mutual welfare, a willingness to contribute, to do one's share, to have respect for one's society?

fine, prattle on all you like about guys in combat gear forcing us to do stuff at gunpoint, but don't expect politically mature people to take you seriously
posted by pyramid termite at 12:25 PM on August 2, 2009


Prop 13 passed with just short of a 2/3 majority, 65%, with a 70% voter turnout. They were REALLY SURE this was the right thing to do, so you might want to consider that.

I don't believe that level of surety has any bearing on whether it was the right thing to do. Clearly prop 13 has been disasterous;. The right thing to do would have been to rein in out of control assessments. I understand why people were upset about property taxes but their response gutted the state.

No, it is not just "old, rich, married couples-- my mom is old but she is neither rich nor married.

Well, see, you added the word "only" which I didn't use. I said that it benefited rich, old, married, white people as a class at the expense of the poor, young, single, or non-white. Which is manifestly true.
posted by Justinian at 12:27 PM on August 2, 2009 [2 favorites]


Prop 13 alone is not a disaster. It makes it hard for politicians to impose taxes against the explicit will of the people. This is a fantastic idea. The inability to properly tax commercial property is a definite problem, but even that (very major) foulup isn't a disaster. It's just something that needs to be fixed.

Prop 13 plus voter initiatives, requiring politicians to spend money, but refusing to allow them to raise any -- THAT is a disaster. The combination of the two processes is toxic, but either thing alone would be fine. It took BOTH things to gut the state.

fine, prattle on all you like about guys in combat gear forcing us to do stuff at gunpoint, but don't expect politically mature people to take you seriously

"All political power grows out of the barrel of a gun." -- Mao Zedong.

The world sure took him seriously. And it did so because he practiced exactly what he preached.

In your context, "politically mature" means "naive, wishful thinkers who want to ignore how their 'voluntary cooperation' is enforced".

perhaps something like good will, an appreciation of the mutual welfare, a willingness to contribute, to do one's share, to have respect for one's society?

That is exactly the same wording that the Chinese government uses, even today, as they impose their draconian laws on their population.

Not everyone has those traits. When they don't, your style of government forces them to cooperate under threat of violence.

In creating a society that requires these things from people, you are forcing your worldview onto others, and you do that with guns. This may be necessary, but don't you dare retreat into platitudes and think that this isn't happening. Call a spade a spade. Understand what it means when you pass laws. Don't hide in a fantasy world of butterflies and kittens, because that kind of self-deception results in terrible injustice.
posted by Malor at 5:37 PM on August 2, 2009


Reiterating a bit of what Malor mentions above. It really is important to educate yourself and spread the word as much as possible.

Does spreading the word and being involved work? Hell yes. My wife and her teaching buddies regularly meet to discuss issues, usually over margaritas. They set agendas and go to counsel and district board meetings and usually succeed in their missions.

It's been our experience that most elected officials really want and try to serve the people, but they often become very disconnected from what the rest of us experience "on the street". So they need real stories from real people.

So, seriously? Write. Send emails. Do it often! Tell your buddies and watch things change. We're not helpless and we don't need to revolt, yet.
posted by snsranch at 5:43 PM on August 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


I think it's interesting that Prop 13 caps the taxes at 1% of the full value. In CT, it's quite common to pay 2-3% on 70% of the full value, which is significantly more than 1%. If they were limited to 1% here, every town in the state would be broke.
posted by smackfu at 5:58 PM on August 2, 2009


Property values are very high in California, smackfu, because people really like to live there. So while they get a lower percentage, in absolute number of dollars, they're probably getting substantially more revenue per average home than Connecticut.

They also have to SPEND more per average home, because the infrastructure needs to be built to an earthquake-proof standard, but I think they're still ahead.
posted by Malor at 6:46 PM on August 2, 2009


Property values are very high in California, smackfu, because people really like to live there.

I suspect that if the trend in the FPP continues, this will not be true much longer.
posted by hippybear at 7:26 PM on August 2, 2009


I hope Maria will be withholding sex indefinitely.
posted by dustyasymptotes at 7:31 PM on August 2, 2009



I suspect that if the trend in the FPP continues, this will not be true much longer.


I stopped counting the number of FOR SALE/RENT/LEASE signs about a week ago.
posted by The Whelk at 7:32 PM on August 2, 2009


. Call a spade a spade.

As a left-libertarian (with an 3:5 bias on the left), I agree with Malor here.

The penalties for refusing mandatory military service are very similar to the penalties to pay the man.
posted by @troy at 7:37 PM on August 2, 2009


Property values are very high in California, smackfu, because people really like to live there.

They're also high because of the low property taxes :)
posted by @troy at 7:38 PM on August 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


As a left-libertarian (with an 3:5 bias on the left), I agree with Malor here.

So far, Malor and the rest of the Mefi Libertarian brigade have equated a democratically-elected government enforcing income and property taxes to:

1) Criminal gangs shaking people down for protection money, and

2) Unaccountable totalitarian governments oppressing their citizens.

Which of those do you agree with? Given what you quoted, I'm guessing (2), that a democratically-elected government enforcing property and income taxes is equivalent to an unelected and unaccountable totalitarian government suppressing the will of the people.
posted by dirigibleman at 9:33 PM on August 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


Keep in mind that Prop 13's function is to stop people from being priced out of their homes by property tax which is a noble goal.

I agree that allowing people to live in homes they bought is a noble goal, but if I understand Prop 13 correctly, it also applies to second, third, and nth homes, as well as property owned by corporations. I would like these huge loopholes to go away.
posted by zippy at 9:34 PM on August 2, 2009


Prop 13 plus voter initiatives, requiring politicians to spend money, but refusing to allow them to raise any -- THAT is a disaster. The combination of the two processes is toxic, but either thing alone would be fine. It took BOTH things to gut the state.

I agree that the combination of the two issues is much worse than either alone but I think you're underestimating the problematic aspects of Prop 13 by itself.

Consider, for example, something I didn't bring up before: prop 13 has led to the state's receipts being far more unpredictable and variable than for most states. You probably know why already but for anyone who isn't quite as well versed on tax policy and so forth, most states rely fairly heavily on property tax for their revenue. With prop 13 in place California has had to get most money from income tax rather than property tax, and property tax is much much much more stable than income tax.

Relying on income tax means that the state brings in huge revenue during boom times but revenue drops into the gutter in bust times. Property tax generally insulates against this kind of cyclical boom/bust cycle to some extent as housing prices are far less volatile than incomes, historically speaking.

Now you might object that this problem could be addressed by simply spending an average amount so that you run deficits in bust years but surpluses in boom years and put the surpluses away to pay the deficits in the bust years. To which I reply: HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH AH AH AH AH AH HAHAHAHAAHHAHA etc. The government will spend the revenue it brings in. Ignoring that is ignoring human nature. So, yes, prop 13 is inherently flawed to an extent I believe you are downplaying.

But hey, even if that weren't the case it's an immoral regressive tax, helping old rich married white folks as a class at the expense of everybody else. Personally, I'd much rather see significantly higher property tax while income and, particularly, sales taxes are lowered. Why is it such a disaster if grandma might have to live in an apartment 'cause she can't pay her property tax but it's perfectly fine if whole classes of people are gouged by absurd sales taxes to subsize granny's million dollar house? 'Cause the people being gouged and much younger and browner, mostly.
posted by Justinian at 10:01 PM on August 2, 2009 [2 favorites]


yeah I meant "subsidize" and not "subsize".
posted by Justinian at 10:03 PM on August 2, 2009


On the other hand, lots of counties across the rest of the country are feeling tons of hurt because their assessed values are dropping. While other counties in other states can set an arbitrary tax rate to fill the needs of the budget, that doesn't help attract businesses and residences to the community.

Proposition 13 provides stability to both local government and the property owner. Local government has a revenue source that grows relatively slowly, while property owners can budget appropriately for property taxes over the lifetime of their investment. It also forces financial discipline to municipalities - rather in other states, where the council decides how much to spend and then assesses a "millage rate" over the assessed value, the council receives guidance on how much money is coming in, and then spends that amount.
posted by calwatch at 10:09 PM on August 2, 2009


Illinois is just two points behind California, percentagewise, in its 2010 budget shortfall. But who cares about Illinois: they're only 13.2 billion in the hole. You've heard the joke about why there are still people in Illinois: because they haven't been anywhere else.

Now Californians, with their pleasant climate and beautiful beaches, and beautiful people and beautiful parks, those fuckers deserve what's happening to them.

There are exactly 2 states, right now, that don't have budget shortfalls: North Dakota and
Montana. If you don't live in either of those states, consider yourself core bullshit people. Or maybe just peripheral bullshit people, because your state is only 25% in the hole (on average) compared to California's 49%.

Enjoy it while it's still news. In 6 months, you'll have your own, local version of women and children and men without the meager state services that made their lives somewhat better than hell.
posted by the Real Dan at 11:38 PM on August 2, 2009


But hey, even if that weren't the case it's an immoral regressive tax, helping old rich married white folks as a class at the expense of everybody else. Personally, I'd much rather see significantly higher property tax while income and, particularly, sales taxes are lowered. Why is it such a disaster if grandma might have to live in an apartment 'cause she can't pay her property tax but it's perfectly fine if whole classes of people are gouged by absurd sales taxes to subsize granny's million dollar house? 'Cause the people being gouged and much younger and browner, mostly.

I think you're badly mischaracterizing the tax; it's not a benefit for old and white people, it's a benefit for any homeowner in California. It means you can enter into a contract to buy a house with much greater safety, because you can't be driven out involuntarily if prices around you increase past your ability to pay tax. You can know, with great precision, your future outflows, and you can't have your house easily taken from you with unfair bills by capricious assessors, which was happening often enough to be a major trigger for the original passage of Prop 13.

Remember, these little old ladies in these expensive houses earned those houses with a lifetime of work, and it is grossly unfair to force them out of the place they've lived simply because the area around them has gentrified. Forcing those old ladies (or old couples) into inferior living conditions because you think the State should be able to extract more money from them is obscene.

This isn't a law that's aimed at 'old white people', this is a law that's aimed at stability and predictability, and it protects all homeowners. It additionally rewards those who don't move for long periods of time, which is frequently because they can't afford to. In our upwardly-mobile society, people who don't trade up on houses generally have a reason, and that reason is usually finances.

Yes, there are a lower percentage of old black homeowners, but this law protects them too. It may be even better for them, given time, because their incomes still tend to be lower, so they're even more vulnerable to arbitrary tax increases than elderly white couples are. Given another ten or twenty years, and it'll be just as important for every race, because every race will have long-term homeowners.

As far as 'penalizing new buyers', pfaugh. They lose nothing in this arrangement. They pay the same tax they'd pay under the old system. They simply get a benefit for hanging onto the house for a long time. And if more bubbles form, they won't be driven out by capricious market action; the tax rates are a contract they can depend on, rather than a random wind chasing capital flows.

Remember, ordinary tract houses in Silicon Valley were going for a million bucks there for awhile. That meant that perfectly ordinary families, at a 1% tax rate, would have been facing annual property bills of ten thousand dollars. A huge amount of the workforce in that area is still blue collar. They bought at $300k, and can make those payments, but if you suddenly sock them with a bill for a thousand dollars a month, they'll be instantly insolvent and homeless.

This doesn't just protect old white people, it protects EVERYONE. You, the average homeowner, are insulated from arbitrary market action. No matter what happens to your neighborhood, you know precisely how much tax you'll have to pay for as long as you own the house. Millionaires moving in can't, alone, force you out the place you love.

Further, the state knows precisely how much property tax will be flowing in, so they can keep their appetite for new spending under control. If they want to spend more money, they need to go to the voters to get it approved. And that's how it should be... but perhaps there should be a Constitutional amendment requiring all new spending bills to fully fund themselves with new taxes.

As far as sales taxes being regressive goes, I have no argument with that; they clearly are. But the very last people on the 'screw over' list should be old people on fixed incomes, even more than the working poor. I'd personally rather see a flat tax with a big exemption at the bottom -- everything up to $50K is untaxed, everything after that is taxed at X%. Everyone shares the same percentage burden, except for the folks at the bottom.

I get a strong subtext that what you write is outrage driven by the fact that dastardly older homeowners had the gall to have white skin. Reverse racism is still racism -- trying to engineer the tax code to reward skin color will result in horrible distortions. You reward or punish behavior: skin color is irrelevant. Everyone's equal, remember? That means you don't tax people based on how much melanin they have, any more than you tax them on keratin production. It doesn't matter. Racism shouldn't get within a hundred miles of constructing a tax code.
posted by Malor at 2:46 AM on August 3, 2009 [3 favorites]


So far, Malor and the rest of the Mefi Libertarian brigade have equated a democratically-elected government enforcing income and property taxes to:

1) Criminal gangs shaking people down for protection money


What I actually said was that taxation is extraction of wealth by threat of force. Just because the guns aren't out doesn't mean they aren't there. It's hard to find examples of the threat of violence in anything other than criminal enterprises, so there aren't very many analogies to show that the guns are the critical component to enforcing a tax code.

Normally, violence is extra-legal, but we authorize it "by the government", and then pretend to ourselves that it isn't violence, because we're not comfortable with the truth that we are threatening people and demanding part of what they make. It's ugly, and liberals in particular just looooove to dance and dance and dance around it, but truth it remains.

Without the police and the guns, if someone defied the tax code, how would you get money out of them? Answer: you wouldn't. As much as you hate guns, you are totally dependent on them to fund the government programs you love so much. Without the guns, people would just flip you the bird. You would have to convince them you were right instead of forcing them to comply.

2) Unaccountable totalitarian governments oppressing their citizens.

I'm trying to point out that the language is identical. Consider the words that poster used:

"good will, an appreciation of the mutual welfare, a willingness to contribute, to do one's share, to have respect for one's society"

China uses those same exact words to inflict horrific abuses on its citizens.

Perhaps, just perhaps, you might consider that the ways in which we coerce our citizens are not fundamentally different. Less vicious, yes, but it's the same process. If 51 people vote to force the other 49 to labor on their behalf, this is not fundamentally different than a single dictator forcing them to do it. From the point of the view of the 49, it's obey the law, and labor to benefit the 51 or the dictator, or go to jail. One master or 51, they still have to do the work or be punished.

We love to hide in the abstraction that 'society chose this', but in actual fact, the 51 pulled out guns, pointed them at the 49, and put them to work. Those who disagree with a given law are brought into compliance -- initially, with paperwork, but if they continue to resist, it will escalate to the use of force.

My overall belief: if you wouldn't personally be willing to point a gun at someone to force them to do something, you yourself personally, you have no business deputizing others to do it for you by passing a law. If it's something that you genuinely would be comfortable with personally forcing someone to do, then you're completely in the clear, ethically, in voting for that law.

In my case, that would include a lot of environmental protection laws: were it legal to do so, I would be perfectly willing to threaten lethal force to stop some of the things I see people doing in the world. This is a mental model: I wouldn't actually threaten anyone, because it's not legal -- the government has the monopoly on force. But if the government didn't exist, I would be willing to go that far. And that, and ONLY that, is the sort of thing you pass laws about.

Pass laws all you like, just don't fool yourself that it's anything other than violent coercion for anyone who disagrees. Laws and the anonymity of groupthink make the process more palatable, but they don't fundamentally change the nature of the transaction. It's a line that needs to be crossed, but never lightly, even if you're hiring other people (police) to do it for you. Maybe especially when you're paying other people to do it.
posted by Malor at 3:32 AM on August 3, 2009


it should be noted that A LOT of programs are cut that deserve funding because the state is broke. that has nothing to do with "hating women." california needs real legislative reform.

but here's a quick solution to all your problems: anyone griping about money being taken away from their causes should just suggest who instead of them should lose an equal amount of funding. come up with a solution as opposed to just complaining loudly and leaving the mess to others to sort out. the problem is that not enough californians care to resolve the crisis once and for all.
posted by krautland at 4:28 AM on August 3, 2009


They bought at $300k, and can make those payments, but if you suddenly sock them with a bill for a thousand dollars a month, they'll be instantly insolvent and homeless.

Well, they could sell their house and make $700k in profit.
posted by smackfu at 6:16 AM on August 3, 2009


I'm trying to point out that the language is identical.

adolf hitler used fingers to write with

you use fingers to write with

therefore you are adolf hitler

what a ridiculously faulty and dishonest argument you're using here - no wonder certain authoritative people in economics threads have learned to ignore you - you make willfully unfair and ideologically based attacks on your opponents

such as "they're all really robbing me at gunpoint"

i'm sure they teach a course in logic at a college somewhere near you - you're in dire need of it
posted by pyramid termite at 7:08 AM on August 3, 2009


Ok, pyramid termite, let's try playing your way.

Assume that you, in your town of 100, propose a law that the 10 wealthiest people in the town are required to pay $10/mo to the poorest 25. Your proposal passes with a wide margin; it is now the law of the land.

But the 10 people are pissed about this idea, and refuse to go along with the program. They won't pay. When you try to collect, they tell you to get bent. You try to force them with boycotts and trade bans, but they're adequately self-sufficient to survive anyway.

How do you collect the money?
posted by Malor at 8:07 AM on August 3, 2009


Oh, and by the way, you have not made your case in any way, shape, or form. You say that I'm "wrong" and "twisting things", but you have yet to make any kind of coherent argument that taxation is NOT, in fact, confiscating wealth under threat of force.

I invite you to make that case. I suspect that you're falling into invective and slurs because you can't, and because the idea is uncomfortable to consider.
posted by Malor at 8:13 AM on August 3, 2009


(oh, and, on the taxation scenario, don't go to "we take the money from their checking account", because the bank is run by the very richest guy in town, and he won't give you the money either.)
posted by Malor at 8:15 AM on August 3, 2009


smackfu: Well, they could sell their house and make $700k in profit.

We don't generally tax people on unrealized capital gains, with some limited exceptions. Why? Because it can force them out of the good before they're ready to sell it. And if the good is their HOUSE, that's a massive wrong to do to someone.

Further, there's no guarantee you'll actually get that much. I remember my father being completely furious with California, because they were taxing him on a value that he'd never get for the house. I was pretty young at the time, so I don't know the details, but he was very angry. He was very much in favor of Prop 13 because of that.

People in general were pissed. The 1970s were brutal, and the sheer anger at the state at dinner parties was powerful enough for me to pick it up even as a kid. The conversations were polite, but very heated.

I don't know for sure, because I was young, but I wonder if that was when "don't talk politics at parties" came into vogue? Boy, was that ever a mistake. That disconnected people from politics, and the damage has been severe.
posted by Malor at 8:46 AM on August 3, 2009


adolf hitler used fingers to write with

you use fingers to write with

therefore you are adolf hitler

what a ridiculously faulty and dishonest argument you're using here - no wonder certain authoritative people in economics threads have learned to ignore you - you make willfully unfair and ideologically based attacks on your opponents


This is ridiculous. I can feel the spray of spittle when you type. Let's go back a couple of messages.

you have a debased and cynical view of what civilization is and how it should function - and i love how you can indulge in your artificial rhetoric and then turn around and criticize me for "abstraction"

because, after all, somalia is full of people who are forcing one another to do things by gunpoint, and yet there is not much of a government is there?

hmm, perhaps something else is necessary besides thugs with guns to keep a government going? - perhaps something like good will, an appreciation of the mutual welfare, a willingness to contribute, to do one's share, to have respect for one's society?


What you don't have in Somalia, and which you do need to keep a government going, is a monopoly on the legitimization of violence. Legitimate violence is typically but not always, initiated by the state, and illegitimate violence is termed criminal, and the government organizes and directs a punishing response. This monopoly is not just necessary, it is the essence of government. These - "good will, an appreciation of the mutual welfare, a willingness to contribute, to do one's share, to have respect for one's society" are not necessary components.

A more accurate syllogism would be:

China uses rhetorical sleight of hand to justify its totalitarian policies.

pyramid termites' claims are identical in substance to China's justifications.

Therefore, pyramid termites' claims could be used to justify totalitarian policies.

Curiously enough, this conclusion is exactly where Malor ended up. I quote,

That is exactly the same wording that the Chinese government uses, even today, as they impose their draconian laws on their population.

Not everyone has those traits. When they don't, your style of government forces them to cooperate under threat of violence.

In creating a society that requires these things from people, you are forcing your worldview onto others, and you do that with guns. This may be necessary, but don't you dare retreat into platitudes and think that this isn't happening. Call a spade a spade. Understand what it means when you pass laws. Don't hide in a fantasy world of butterflies and kittens, because that kind of self-deception results in terrible injustice.

posted by BigSky at 9:22 AM on August 3, 2009


Ok, pyramid termite, let's try playing your way.

so this is just a game to you?

Assume that you, in your town of 100, propose a law that the 10 wealthiest people in the town are required to pay $10/mo to the poorest 25.

let's propose instead that a grouping of 100 people is a tribe, not a town, and that their relationships, including that of sharing with one another, are negotiated among themselves without a feeling that individuals are being forced to do something

there are plenty of societies that meet that description and we are their inheritors

the thing that libertarians like you utterly cannot believe is that many people will VOLUNTARILY choose to associate with one another on terms that include such things as taxation, with no force involved, even though there's plenty of historical and anthropological evidence for it

But the 10 people are pissed about this idea, and refuse to go along with the program. They won't pay. When you try to collect, they tell you to get bent. You try to force them with boycotts and trade bans, but they're adequately self-sufficient to survive anyway.

but they're not - ten people ostracized in a group of a hundred have two choices - go along with the other 90 or attempt to survive on their own - and in many environments, 10 people can't do it

the situation you describe is in fact a fantasy

people are social animals first and individuals second

Oh, and by the way, you have not made your case in any way, shape, or form. You say that I'm "wrong" and "twisting things"

i've also pointed out some glaring logical fallacies in your substitution of parrot-like rhetoric for actual thought

there are many examples of societies that have people cooperating without the threat of force to make them - you are free to educate yourself on them if you wish - they make my case for me

frankly, your claiming that our society is based on goons mandating things at gun point is about as meaningful and rational as a christian fundamentalist telling us that everything we say is from satan using us as his sock puppets

oh, and then you'll turn around and say that the money we're being forced to share isn't real anyway, the next time that subject comes up

the biggest logical fallacy you commit is the simplistic and naive one of assuming that things have just ONE cause - that if people are being taxed, the ONLY reason that happens is because of goons with guns - which you insist upon, because it's neat sounding propaganda that lets you feel self-righteous

i'm through arguing with you, because you're just here to preach your gospel at people, not to debate - just like some guy on a streetcorner screaming and waving a black bible around, you're not going to listen to any facts that contradict you - even though a decent study of history and anthropology will give you plenty
posted by pyramid termite at 9:25 AM on August 3, 2009


there are many examples of societies that have people cooperating without the threat of force to make them

People cooperating without the threat of force is not the same as taxation. In fact, it's the opposite.
posted by BigSky at 9:36 AM on August 3, 2009


But... with all of California's domestic violence programs being closed, where will all the terrorized people who have had the Tax Police knock down their door go for help?
posted by hippybear at 9:43 AM on August 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


Utah.
posted by smackfu at 9:56 AM on August 3, 2009


WHO IS JOHN GALT?
posted by benzenedream at 10:51 AM on August 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


that if people are being taxed, the ONLY reason that happens is because of goons with guns

if income taxes were voluntary gov't might get 10% not the 25 to 30% it does now. The difference is in fact due to the present threat of the JBTs, especially among the higher brackets.
posted by @troy at 11:45 AM on August 3, 2009


Perhaps the concept of the social contract might help here.
posted by asok at 3:40 PM on August 3, 2009


This isn't a law that's aimed at 'old white people', this is a law that's aimed at stability and predictability, and it protects all homeowners. It additionally rewards those who don't move for long periods of time, which is frequently because they can't afford to. In our upwardly-mobile society, people who don't trade up on houses generally have a reason, and that reason is usually finances.

Yes, there are a lower percentage of old black homeowners, but this law protects them too.


I think we've pretty much covered the ground at this point and I'd hate to interrupt the always fascinating MEN WITH GUNS debate, so I'll reply with a quote I think sums up the response to this pretty well:

"The law, in it's majestic equality, forbids both the rich and poor alike from sleeping under bridges".

If most homeowners at the time of the passage of prop 13 were older, richer, married, white people then the effect of the law (by putting more of the tax burden of California on things like sales taxes) is to transfer wealth from people not in that class to people in that class regardless of the intent of the law. I agree that wasn't the intent of the law, but it was the effect.
posted by Justinian at 3:52 PM on August 3, 2009


"The law, in it's majestic equality, forbids both the rich and poor alike from sleeping under bridges".

Apparently, if you're a sex offender in Florida, this is not the case.
posted by hippybear at 4:03 PM on August 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


the thing that libertarians like you utterly cannot believe is that many people will VOLUNTARILY choose to associate with one another on terms that include such things as taxation, with no force involved, even though there's plenty of historical and anthropological evidence for it

The one thing that "libertarians like me" want is a society exactly like that.

If you can convince someone to cooperate, that's fine! Do that! That's exactly what libertarians want.

We also want people to have the right to refuse to cooperate. In essentially all existing societies, if someone refuses to cooperate with the tax law, and they're persistent and stubborn enough in that refusal, they will be jailed. If they resist jailing, they will be hurt or killed. This isn't "voluntarily association", this is extraction by force.

If you convince someone to go along with a project, that's not a tax. It's only a tax when you force them to give you wealth, even when they think the project is a bad idea.

I'm not even saying that this is always wrong -- to some degree, this is probably necessary. A fully voluntary society on a really large scale may not even be possible. What I'm trying to batter into your head is that it's not butterflies and kittens here, it's forcing people to go along with your view. If they wouldn't otherwise do it, and the police will get involved if they don't comply, it's not voluntary.

That's not a step to take casually. It's something to be thought about VERY carefully before implementing.
posted by Malor at 7:02 PM on August 3, 2009


sigh. "voluntary association".
posted by Malor at 7:07 PM on August 3, 2009


The Sacramento Democrat said he will file the lawsuit as an individual in San Francisco County Superior Court early next week and will tap political funds to pay for the legal action.

"We elected a governor, not an emperor," Steinberg said at a Capitol news conference. "In making these line-item vetoes, the governor forced punishing cuts on children, the disabled and patients that he couldn't win fairly at the bargaining table. And in doing so, he overstepped his constitutional authority."

On Wednesday, the Legislature's legal counsel issued an opinion that Schwarzenegger exceeded his constitutional powers by imposing the cuts on health, welfare and other programs.

posted by rdr at 10:24 PM on August 7, 2009 [3 favorites]


Sword of the Governator - presumably he uses it for all the cutting.
posted by Artw at 4:35 PM on August 25, 2009


Sword of the Governator - presumably he uses it for all the cutting.

Future archeologists are going to have some seriously fucked up ideas about California.
posted by The Whelk at 4:37 PM on August 25, 2009


I probably have seriously fucked up ideas about California *right now*.
posted by Artw at 4:41 PM on August 25, 2009


My favorite story about the origin of the word California is that it was the name of mythical paradise island in the west.

"Know that on the right hand from the Indies exists an island called California very close to a side of the Earthly Paradise; and it was populated by black women, without any man existing there, because they lived in the way of the Amazons. They had beautiful and robust bodies, and were brave and very strong. Their island was the strongest of the World, with its cliffs and rocky shores. Their weapons were golden and so were the harnesses of the wild beasts that they were accustomed to domesticate and ride, because there was no other metal in the island than gold."
posted by The Whelk at 4:47 PM on August 25, 2009


Great, so completely ignore the entire reality of the situation, which is that they HAD TO cut what they cut, because there was no money.

No money. No borrowing. No money means no spending. No spending means no schools. And there's no money because the voters refused to give them any.

But you insist on blaming Arnold.

Yeah, right, whatever. If I'm a dining room table, you're off in the ozone somewhere. It's all the horrible evil Arnold's fault that there's no money, instead of yours for refusing to raise taxes, or pass laws allowing them to cut things that hurt less.

Your problem is in the mirror. Look there for answers.
posted by Malor at 8:07 AM on August 28, 2009


Oops, wrong thread. Sorry!
posted by Malor at 8:07 AM on August 28, 2009


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