Patterico's Pontifications

5/8/2008

California Democrats Propose More Taxes to Cure Budget Shortfall

Filed under: Economics,Politics — DRJ @ 10:43 pm



[Guest post by DRJ]

Get ready, Californians.

Democrats in the California Legislature plan to solve the $20B budget shortfall by taxing your six-packs ($1.80 per pack), iTune downloads ($0.08 per download), and plastic grocery bags ($0.25 each). Other proposals include increased taxes on porn magazines, sex toys, yachts, and gas-guzzling vehicles.

At least they aren’t taxing California blogs. Yet.

— DRJ

83 Responses to “California Democrats Propose More Taxes to Cure Budget Shortfall”

  1. Raising taxes on porn magazines? Who buys them anymore? You can’t swing a dead cat on the internet without hitting some porn site.

    Steverino (9be38b)

  2. Gotta pay for your state budget somehow. Neither party out there can seem to keep spending under control.

    Joe (c0e4f8)

  3. Joe, the GOP never gets the chance. Best chance was under Curt Pringle back in the 90s, but Willie Brown getting Doris Allen and Paul Horcher to sellout ruined that chance.

    This is what happens when you elect RINOs and Democrats to office.

    PCD (5c49b0)

  4. Joe #2,
    Yep, unless you are one of those people who believe that governments carrying some degree of debt load is actually a good thing coz it keeps the bond market hopping etc. etc. Steverino sent me this link. Pretty interesting viewpoint. I don’t know if this guy would apply the same reasoning to state debts. http://www.optimist123.com/optimist/2005/10/why_debt_doomsd.html

    DRJ
    These are regressive taxes on sin and kids. Are you SURE it was the Dems who proposed this and not the Republicans? Maybe MORE Dems than Rep signatures were on the bill or something…..

    EdWood (06cafa)

  5. 4, It was the Dem caucus, Ed.

    Ed, I don’t suppose you remember the Orange County Bankruptcy, do you? I suppose you are totally ignorant that if weren’t for the only elected Democrat (at that time) in the county, OC would have never had tax funds in the reverse derivitave speculation business.

    Also, Dems and a few RINOs are the big tax and spenders in CA.

    PCD (5c49b0)

  6. Actually I do remember the Orange County Bankruptcy. So they found a Dem to blame the whole thing on huh?

    EdWood (06cafa)

  7. Hey, when Democrats are desperate for revenue, they’ll tax anything that doesn’t move.

    I expect they’ll have a legal challenge over the iTunes downloads, which I expect they’ll lose unless they can get Congress to allow Internet taxes.

    LarryD (feb78b)

  8. And thus will continue the migration of annoying Californians to Austin so they can continue to ruin its charm and character. STAY IN LA AND REAP WHAT YOU SOW!!!

    Jack Klompus (cf3660)

  9. 6, Ed, I was there in OC. I questioned Bill Steiner about the whole thing before the trouble began. I told him Robert Citron’s idea was bad and that it could blow up big time. My reward was to be named in Grand Jury testimony about the Bankruptcy.

    Oh, Ed, even the Democrats acknowledge it was Citron’s fault. Go be a donkey elsewhere.

    PCD (5c49b0)

  10. BTW Ed,
    The OC bankruptcy was caused by the County Treasurer (an elected Dem) investing tax funds in derivitives, and watching it go upside-down. It was easy to blame him, because he DID IT!

    The CA govt is constitutionally required to have a balanced budget (unlike the Fed Govt) yet the Dems who have run the legislature for at least 95% of the last 40-years, consistently appropriate more than they take in. What is really getting us upside-down is the increase in bonded-indebtedness – they’re selling bonds now to pay the operating costs of govt, where in the past, bonds were only used for capital expenditures.

    Every additional tax increases the taxpayer-unfriendly climate of the State, and results in people leaving for other locations. And, it is those people that are leaving, that have been the contributors to our state, and not the tax-swillers. Eventually, we will be left with a huge pool of tax-consumers, and nobody to pay the taxes to support them.

    Another Drew (f9dd2c)

  11. AD,

    Yeah, look at all the filming the movie industry does not only out of state, but in Canada. It is mainly cheaper to do so. Vancouver is favorite site to “stand in for” US cities.

    PCD (5c49b0)

  12. “I questioned Bill Steiner about the whole thing before the trouble began. I told him Robert Citron’s idea was bad and that it could blow up big time.”

    PCD- I’ll defer to your explicit involvement, you obviously know way more about it than I do…(Hee haw I guess) however from your words above it looks like the guy didn’t do these investments on the sly, in the dark, behind everyone’s back. Does the Treasurer in Orange County have complete control over all the money with no input from anyone else in charge? If not then although the debacle was that person’s responsibility, it wasn’t their SOLE responsibility was it? Sounds like you did your bit to avert the train wreck anyway.

    EdWood (06cafa)

  13. It isn’t the Dem’s fault that we aren’t coughing up our fair share. What else could they reasonably be expected to do?

    Chris (8270f7)

  14. #7 TN already taxes itune downloads. I suspect CA can get away with it too.

    Dr T (69c4b2)

  15. Ed…
    “…Does the Treasurer in Orange County have complete control over all the money with no input from anyone …”

    At that time (and, AFAIK, still), Yes!

    Another Drew (f9dd2c)

  16. Ed, it was completely his fault. He’s the only one who went to prison.

    Ed, how about some even handedness from you? You are more than likely to blame Iraq solely on Bush.

    PCD (5c49b0)

  17. The Cowardly thing about the Democrat tax plan is that they don’t apply their “principles” to their supporters.

    First thing is that all incomes over 6x the lowest paid worker on a film or TV show ought to be taxed at 70% above the 6x mark.

    Any profits from a film or TV show ought to be totally confiscated and redistributed.

    PCD (5c49b0)

  18. About Orange County, first <a href=”John Moorlach ran against Citron in the June election and lost after the LA Times dismissed his warnings that the investment strategy was too risky. The Supervisors, like most politicians, knew no economics and only knew that money was rolling in as long as the party lasted. After the bankruptcy, Moorlach was elected Treasurer and is now on the Board of Supervisors trying to warn the county about the coming pension disaster. No one is listening.

    City Journal has a nice article about the state and its stupidity about energy. This is what you get if Democrats govern long enough. I’m getting ready to abandon the state before the roof falls in.

    Mike K (86bddb)

  19. PCD: the investment may have been completely his fault. But the fact that the voters chose to default rather than raise taxes to pay off the county’s debt was entirely the fault of the voters.

    I think that showed an astonishing lack of responsibility on their part. They elected this guy who messed things up; they are responsible for fixing it. Except that they chose to make the creditors pay for it rather than paying for it themselves.

    aphrael (db0b5a)

  20. The demacrooks way of putting out a fire throw gasoline on it

    krazy kagu (2b0aea)

  21. Confiscating profits from film and tv is pretty much pointless, though, since Hollywood has long ago perfected creative accounting to the point where it could fairly easily never show a profit on anything. :)

    aphrael (db0b5a)

  22. DRJ: I tried to find $13 billion in cuts which would be politically acceptable a few years ago, back when Governor Schwarzenegger and the legislature were pushing the bond measure to cover operating funds.

    I couldn’t do it then.

    I doubt very much that anyone could find $20 billion in cuts which would be politically acceptable — not to the Democrats, but to the 30% of the state which isn’t affiliated with either party.

    If we can’t cut, our choices are to run a deficit or to raise taxes.

    aphrael (db0b5a)

  23. aphrael,

    You are woefully ignorant in this matter. OC lost over $1Billion. THEY PAID FOR IT.

    You have no idea what went on. Let me fill you in on some of it. First, there were no bonds or notes let out by OC that they defaulted on. Citron bought reverse derivitives on the open market. When the interest rates rose, the derivitives devalued to near zero.

    There are cuts CA can make, but ENTITLED Tax leaches like you won’t consider them because that is cutting off YOUR gravy train.

    All the media, except Hugh Hewitt, mislead the OC voters on the Moorlach-Citron race, even the “Santa Ana” Register. I remember that Chris Knap sucking up to Citron like a turbo charged Hoover. Knap wrote a column without running the facts by an accountant. He dismissed Moorlach’s claims. I don’t know why Knap is even employed. He should be in jail next to Citron.

    PCD (5c49b0)

  24. PCD: i’ll put aside the question of the OC bankruptcy, because you’re right: i’m an outsider, and all I know is what the media reported on.

    But I find your assertion that i’m a tax leach to be astonishing. I’m a full time software engineer who is using the income from working as a software engineer to pay for part-time law school. I am not currently receiving any money of any sort from either the federal or state governments, and I make too much money to qualify for any of the education tax credits.

    I’m aware that it’s amazingly easy to make assumptions about your political opponents and demonize them, but it’s hardly the behavior of a reaosnable person to do that.

    I request that you either provide evidence that i’m a tax leech or retract the assertion.

    aphrael (db0b5a)

  25. I want to know more about Steverino’s swinging dead cats on the Internet.

    Note how the Dems will add $1.80 to a six pack of beer but absolutely will not touch wine, which happens to be a major industry in California. If they do this, I would hope that Pennsylvania, Missouri, Wisconsin, and Colorado would band together and enact a $4 per bottle tax on wines, just to give us a taste of our own medicine.

    JVW (835f28)

  26. Aphrael-

    “If we can’t cut, our choices are to run a deficit or to raise taxes.”

    Or enact policies to promote growth with high skilled, high wage jobs while holding the line on costs.

    Why does 1/4 our our electricity come from out of state? Why won’t Intel build a new fab in its home state? Why does Google have its server farms out of state? Why not build a new refinery so that we don’t have unnatural price spikes twice a year as gas is reformulated?

    Spending has consistently significantly outgrown the combined rate of growth and inflation in the state. It may be be able to be reined in in one shot, but we should be able to put the brakes on it over a relatively short period of time.

    MartyH (52fae7)

  27. #14, Dr. T

    #7 TN already taxes itune downloads. I suspect CA can get away with it too.

    How do they recognize a Tennessean? Billing address? Downloading IP address? If it’s billing address, does a Tennesseean pay TN taxes no matter where they download to?

    Pablo (99243e)

  28. A, You are a tax leach because you can only advocate spending, and your studies are subsidized by tax dollars.

    Anyone can claim to be a software engineer now days. Can you program in Assembler? What have you done?

    Me, I wrote, debugged, installed, and trouble shot the software that enabled the Census Bureau to install and use a StorageTek “Silo” with their Sperry Legacy Unisys Mainframes.

    PCD (5c49b0)

  29. Marty,

    Why doesn’t CA allow drilling for oil off its coast? Think of all the oil taxes that CA misses out on, not to mention all the oil and gas.

    Talk about being penny wise and pound foolish! But, that be Democrats for you.

    PCD (5c49b0)

  30. I’m going to a private school. Possibly my studies are subsidized by tax dollars, but since the full time tuition is more than $30,000 a year, it’s not subsidized very much. And even if they are, it’s not like it’s possible to find *any university anywhere* not subsidized by state money on some level; surely the fact that I’m not taking any state grant or loan money ought to defend me against the charge of being a leech.

    I could at one time program in assembler but haven’t done any meaningful assembly programming since 1996 or so, and so anything I did now would probably be a disaster.

    I don’t discuss my current employer online because it’s bad professional judgment to do so. However, I worked at Borland from 1994-2004. I have some bug fix code in every version of the borland c++ compiler after 2001 or so, I still have shipping Delphi RTL code dating to 1998 or so. I was primarily responsible for AX/COM support in the Delphi/C++Builder IDE from 1998-2004, and implemented editor kernel features such as code folding.

    In any event: this thread isn’t about me, and I don’t feel comfortable bragging about my accomplishments on line. My point here is entirely that you know nothing about me, and yet you have assumed that I am not a contributing member of society, based simply upon the fact that our politics differ and I don’t believe that $20 billion can be cut from the state budget without triggering sufficient political opposition to those cuts to prevent them from taking effect.

    That’s one of the nastiest forms of prejudice I’ve ever seen on this particular blog, and I’d be highly disappointed if it weren’t directed at me. Since it is, I’m highly offended, instead.

    aphrael (db0b5a)

  31. Or enact policies to promote growth with high skilled, high wage jobs while holding the line on costs

    Fair enough, although I’d point out that California does have significant growth with high skilled, high wage jobs. We could have more, but we’re doing reasonably well on that front as is.

    Why does 1/4 our our electricity come from out of state? Why won’t Intel build a new fab in its home state? Why does Google have its server farms out of state? Why not build a new refinery so that we don’t have unnatural price spikes twice a year as gas is reformulated?

    Because the voters of the state are collectively a bunch of spoiled rich jerks who believe they can have our cake and eat it too? You’re completely right that we should be encouraging the development of new energy plants and refineries within the state.

    It may be be able to be reined in in one shot, but we should be able to put the brakes on it over a relatively short period of time.

    This gets to the real core of the problem. We have a single-year budget process: either we have to rein it in in one shot, or we have to borrow money, or we have to raise taxes. We can try to put together a multiple year deal in which we raise taxes temporarily, letting them fall as the rest of the program to put the brakes on spending takes effect … but such a plan would not be adhered to by the legislature for more than a year, so there’s little point; it gives us the pleasure of feeling like we’ve fixed the problem without actually requiring us to do the work of fixing the problem.

    aphrael (db0b5a)

  32. Why doesn’t CA allow drilling for oil off its coast?

    Because we did a risk-benefit analysis and determined that the risk of another oil spill outweighed the benefit of the drilling.

    That risk-benefit analysis is almost certainly based on old information — the risk of a spill has probably gone down over 40 years as technology has improved. And perhaps we should reconsider it in light of that change; although my suspicion is that the same distrust that causes you to assume i’m a tax leech will cause liberals to reject out of hand any evidence that the risk is now sufficiently low (because anyone proferring such evidence must be in the pay of the evil oil companies), and will cause conservatives to reject out of hand any evidence that the risk isn’t sufficiently low (because anything those lying environmentalists say can’t be trusted).

    aphrael (db0b5a)

  33. I would remind everyone that when Arnold ran for Governator in the re-call election, he was challenged by a conservative Republican, Tom McClintock, and that McClintock pointed out that if the State had meerly limited the growth in spending to the growth of population and inflation, that at that time we would have been running a surplus, since revenues had increased so much. This was for the Davis term-of-office. This formulation still holds true for the Arnold period. Revenues have increased tremendously here in CA (think of all of the money the State has made on the increase in housing valuation since 1998 – prop taxes essentially go to the state, and are then re-distributed out of the General Fund), but the Legislature spends money like a bunch of drunken sailors (with appologies to sailors, everywhere).

    It is not a revenue problem; It is a spending problem!

    Another Drew (f9dd2c)

  34. Another Drew: as I said before, I looked at the budget in 2004. I didn’t see $13 billion of cuts which were politically possible.

    If you do, please share. :)

    aphrael (db0b5a)

  35. A, No risk analysis was taken as the reason, it was fear mongering by the Democrat left and watermelons that caused the drilling ban. It was greed and envy by Democrats, such as yourself, of those willing to take a risk with their money to make more money that you decided must be stopped at all costs. Now you see the costs in a “fuel and energy shortage” and a budget deficit.

    Look in the mirror for the source of CA’s problems, A. The fault starts with you and your fellow travellers who think that they should say “who isn’t paying their fair share”, and then confiscating what they have and you don’t.

    PCD (5c49b0)

  36. Offshore drilling…
    Hurricanes roll through the Gulf of Mexico on a regular basis and they have a record of “oil-spills” of almost less-than-zero.
    We, on the other hand, have to now import tremendous amounts of oil to CA via tankers, who have a less than stellar record on spills (the Exxon Valdez was heading to a West Coast port when it left Alaska). Except for the few tankers bound for Japan (in exchange for Mexican oil purchased by Japan, traded for Alaskan oil, and pipe-lined to the US), all of the tankers leaving Valdez go to US West-Coast ports to dis-embark their oil into refineries here. Off-shore wells, on the other hand, transport their oil onto shore via pipe-lines.
    Another thing that a lot of people forget (or never were told) is that the Santa Barbara Channel bottom is riven with fissures that allow the escape of underground oil on a constant basis. This has been going on for millions of years (give, or take).
    We ban off-shore drilling because of all sorts of false reasons: It will ruin the view; The on-shore support industries are icky; etc.
    Just like Teddy not wanting windmills in Nantucket Sound because they would ruin the view from Hyannisport (except that they would be below the horizon – but he would know they were there).
    Sorry, but this has been a sore spot with me for 40-years, and I have never worked for the oil industry, but know that our modern industrial economy cannot survive without oil, either for transportation, energy generation, or petro-chemicals.

    Another Drew (f9dd2c)

  37. PCD-exactly!

    Aphrael-

    How about a constitutional amendment that establishes a baseline of spending and mandates that per capita expenditures cannot increase more than the rate of inflation? Tie legislative and the Gov’s rewards-base pay, staff, per diem amounts, etc. to meeting this goal. So that if the state has a crisis and has to violate this, there is actually a penalty for the elected officials.

    On the revenue side, make the revenue stream smoother by enacting flatter taxes. A 3% flat income tax would bring in the same revenue as the current progressive tax without taking into account any Laffer Curve effects that would undoubtedly increase revenue.

    Like people, the state has to decide what to do with its time and resources. Calfornia’s choices both reduce its income and increase its expense.

    MartyH (52fae7)

  38. Marty,

    One last thing that needs to be said, Arnold has been a “Girlyman” when it comes to facing down Liberals, starting with Maria and Teddy, and the Marxists infesting the Legislature.

    Arnold had the star power to put Davis into well deserved political unemployment, but he is a weakling when it comes to what counts for running the state. McClintock was the best choice.

    PCD (5c49b0)

  39. aphreal….I understand your belief that there was “nothing” that could be cut in 2004…

    But, if there wasn’t enough money, someone, somebody, somewhere, somehow, had to say “NO” to something….

    Now, there won’t be $20 Million, and something has to be cut…because if they raise taxes again in California, there will be an exodus of both people and money…

    And the deficit will become bigger, not smaller….

    Inspite of higher taxes….

    So, go back and look again, and make cuts…

    But, please don’t move to Louisiana, because we don’t think like that here…we’ll cut if we have to, and right now, we’re trying to find a way to cut our state income tax so we can begin to build our population, which will increase our income because of a larger working population…

    reff (bff229)

  40. Increasing revenues by increasing taxes…
    All you have to do is to look at what happened in the early-90’s in the first Wilson Admin, to see that this is a failed policy.
    He increased taxes to solve a shortfall problem, and the state took 4-5 years to recover – revenues actually fell in real dollars.

    Another Drew (f9dd2c)

  41. Reff: please do not put words in my mouth. I did not say there was nothing that could be cut in 2004. I said there was not $13 billion which could be cut in 2004.

    There’s an enormous difference between those two positions.

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  42. Yes, but Libs always say that if you can’t solve the entire problem (comprehensive X reform), then any small step is meaningless.

    They ignore Confucius and refuse to take any first step.

    Another Drew (f9dd2c)

  43. MartyH: you’re conflating a couple of different issues here: the progressivity of the tax structure and the question of spending caps.

    I’ve opposed constitutional amendments with spending caps before for much the same reason that I oppose constitutional amendments which mandate that a particular percentage of the state budget be spent on given cause X (public schools, preschool education, university, road construction, whatever): making the process less flexible makes things worse rather than better.

    That said, I would support a constitutional amendment which simultaneously (a) enacted a spending cap tied to inflation *and population growth*, (b) eliminated all of the constitutional requirements that X% be spent on cause Y, and (c) provided a means to suspend the cap in an emergency. I would even support a means to penalize the legislature for suspending it, so long as that penalty could be waived (by referendum or something) in a real emergency. (Basically, I want the state to be able to spend wildly after an earthquake devastates Los Angeles — but i’m aware that ’emergency’ provisions are regularly abused and have no problem with penalizing the legislature for doing so).

    A flatter tax structure is another issue entirely, as is the Laffer Curve. For one thing: while it’s clear that at certain tax rates, decreasing taxes will increase revenue, it’s also clear that at other tax rates, decreasing taxes will not increase revenue. It all depends on where you are on the curve … and I don’t think anyone knows with any certainty where California is on the curve. :)

    A flat tax system with a high personal deduction and *no* exemptions might work. But I think it would be hard to hold to the no exemptions, and I have an economic problem with it: ISTM that the tax structure ought to be set up so that the marginal utility of the money lost to taxes is equal. That is to say, as the marginal value of a dollar goes down, the percentage of that dollar which is taxed should go up, so that the total lost marginal value remains the same.

    I’m aware that this is not a universally accepted principal. But I’m skeptical of arguments that say we should switch to a flat tax which don’t forthrightly make the case that taxing marginal utility is bad: I begin to suspect hidden motives. Which, on some level, is probably as bad as PCD’s presumption that i’m motivated by greed.

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  44. Another Drew: my position is that we should cut what we can find political support for and raise taxes to cover the difference.

    The Republicans in the state legislature refuse to consider that notion; they think we cut things we can’t find political support for. The Democrats in the state legislature mostly refuse to consider that notion; they think we shouldn’t cut anything.

    At the end of the day, the solution to this is almost certainly gerrymandering reform. But the voters keep rejecting that. Maybe this year it will be different.

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  45. “How about a constitutional amendment that establishes a baseline of spending and mandates that per capita expenditures cannot increase more than the rate of inflation?”

    We had that. It was called the Gann Act. It was subsequently eviscerated by the Legislature and by bond issues and other proposition, mostly supported by corporations that wanted a line into the treasury.

    The Wilson tax increase in 1991 prolonged the recession here by at least a year after the rest of the country recovered. The trouble is that no one, including software engineers, knows any economics. I used to be one, too. I wrote assembly language routines for an IBM 650 in 1959. I know what engineers are like and I don’t want them running the state or country. Even lawyers are better at that.

    Mike K (f89cb3)

  46. A, I said greed AND ENVY. You definitely score high with envy of what others have. You also think government is the be all and end all of life. It isn’t. Government is the bane of life. Why do you not think the Bill of Rights are LIMITATIONS PLACED UPON GOVERNMENT, NOT THE CITIZENS???

    I can find $20 Billion. One huge chunk is deporting all the illegals in CA. I know the ones in jails and prisons are better kept there than released to their home countries, only to return and commit more and worse crimes.

    Illegal immigration is a net drain on CA. Don’t be a donkey and argue about a subset of the problem not being a problem, A. That is like saying a subroutine is good when the whole program isn’t working.

    Next I’d cut all supports for special interest groups, especially the ones for Liberals that were supposed to be temporary, but have become permanent and growing.

    Third, I’d change the entire educational funding and structure. First, the union goons removed from the classrooms. Next, allow competition in education. Third, treat homeschooling as the primary option, not a crime to be punished. Attach any and all taxes collected and distributed on a per student basis to actually go to the parents of each student first, not to institutions.

    Basically, taxes are only to be minimally necessary for government, not the government to be fed at any cost.

    PCD (5c49b0)

  47. “…Even lawyers are better at that.”

    You’re cutting a very fine edge there, Mike.

    Another Drew (f9dd2c)

  48. PCD: I note that I’m still waiting for you to either justify your claim that i’m a leech or retract it.

    No risk analysis was taken as the reason

    Of course there was! Unless you are claiming that none of the people who have taken a position on this issue which disagrees with yours have thought about it (and are instead irrational animals), each person who has a position on the issue at all has at some point looked at the risks of drilling and the benefits of drilling and concluded that the risks were more important than the benefits.

    Now, as Another Drew points out, many of the people who have done that have been wildly misinformed about what the risks are, and what the benefits are. But that’s true about almost any issue which an electorate considers: most people are experts on only a small number of things, and the cost of acquiring expertise is sufficiently high that it’s frequently rational to remain ignorant.

    Your argument seems to be that most people have been influenced by fear. That’s certainly possible; I wasn’t around in 1970 when this consensus was formed, so I can’t speak to it. But it’s also worth noting that humans have a tendency to overestimate the probability of low-probability events which have happened: the fact that the event has happened seems to make it appear more likely to us. Given that oil spills actually happen, it seems likely to me that people would overstimate their probability; and given that overestimation, it doesn’t seem irrational to me to conclude that the risk outweighs the benefit (especially since the risk is socialized but the benefit isn’t).

    ————–

    Look in the mirror for the source of CA’s problems, A. The fault starts with you.

    Of course! California is a republic. If I think my representatives are doing a good job and re-elect them, then I’m responsible for their behavior. Likewise, if I think they aren’t doing a good job and fail to do the work to replace them, I’m responsible for implicitly endorsing their behavior. This is true of everyone, regardless of political affiliation; that’s the beauty and the tragedy of a representative system.

    But you seem to be saying something different than I am: you’re saying that my particular political views are solely the cause of the state’s problems. Once again I’m left wondering what assumptions you’ve made about my views, and unable to defend myself without knowing what those assumptions are; that appears to be a running gag in our interaction.

    I would argue that the fundamental problem in California is that we’re balkanized into different groups who stopped listening to each other several decades ago and now are incapable of listening to each other because they’ve decided the other groups are the enemy and immediately distrust the motives of anyone espousing different positions. There are liberal communities in which I’d be run out of town for suggesting that maybe we should reconsider the cost-benefit analysis of oil drilling; here i’m accused of being motivated by greed and envy for suggesting that such a cost-benefit analysis ever occurred.

    How can we solve our problems as a community if we can’t even talk to each other without casting aspersions upon one anothers’ motives and recoiling in distrust from any idea set forth by our political opponents? We certainly can’t find the areas in which we agree, and without doing that, how do we fix anything?

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  49. PCD-

    Arnold was emasculated when his reform package was rejected early in his first term.

    Aphrael-Agree 100% on the gerrymandering reform. Truly competitive seats would allow the voters to express their opinions through the legislature. Right now our only voice is through the ballot propositions, which makes for bad law because these are usually written by one side only and lack the give and take that a proper legislative process ensures.

    Regarding cutting what we can, and raising taxes to cover the rest-the issue is that we don’t cut what we can. When you tell a politician that you will accept a tax raise as a last resort, his thought process shifts from cutting expense to spending taxes. It’s like the kid who never grows up because his dad will always bail him out.

    MartyH (52fae7)

  50. PCD, can you please point out anything i’ve said in this comment thread, or on this blog in general, which indicates envy of what other people have? Talking with you is somewhat peculiar as you seem to be reacting more to assumptions you’ve made about me than to anything I’ve said.

    I neither think government is the be all and end all of life nor the bane of life: I think it’s a tool that the citizens use to accomplish certain ends, and that like all tools it is better suited to some ends than to others.

    The bill of rights are limitations placed upon the government because the founders of our society believed that there are certain powers which the state should not be allowed to exercise, either because the power could too easily be abused (4th amendment) or because the power contained within it the ability to disconnect the state from the citizens (part of the 1st amendment). But note: to the extent that the state is a creature of the citizens, something presumed to be true in a republic, restrictions on the power of the state are in fact restrictions on the power of the citizens: they restrain the citizens from using the tool of the state in certain ways.

    ——-

    I don’t know how much can be saved by deporting all of the illegals, so I can’t evaluate your claim that you can raise $20 billion by steps including that. That said, I’m certainly in favor of deporting illegals who have been convicted of crimes other than presence in the country. I think that the economic cost of deporting illegals who have committed no other crime would actually be higher than the cost of keeping them here (although how that cost to the overall economy is reflected in the state budget, I’m unsure).

    I can’t evaluate how much money would be saved by “supports for special interest groups” because the term ‘special interest group’ is one of those slippery political terms … the way it’s used by most people, in my experience, excludes groups that are liked by the speaker and includes only those which are disliked by the speaker. I don’t know that you are using it that way; but neither do I know what you mean by it.

    Changing the educational funding and structure almost certainly fails my requirement that the elimination be politically feasible. A referendum to establish a voucher system failed in California, somewhat decisively, and the voters have mandated minimum funding for the public schools. Until and unless that requirement is revoked, public primary and secondary education isn’t going to be a significant source of budget reductions.

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  51. Steverino wrote: Raising taxes on porn magazines? Who buys them anymore? You can’t swing a dead cat on the internet without hitting some porn site.
    I have seen a lot of things on the net, but have yet to see someone swinging a dead cat. Frankly, I’m afraid to do a Google search; not only might I find someone swinging a dead cat on YouTube, I might find a Yahoo group for people who swing with dead cats.

    L.N. Smithee (b048eb)

  52. Colorado had a constitutional amendment that prohibited any increase in taxation levels that exceeded the combination of population growth and inflation rates unless each new tax or tax increase was approved by voters.

    This measure was very successful and there were two key indications of the success – improved economic growth for the state and a high volume of whining by Colorado politicians. Unfortunately, with Democratic control of state legislature and Governor’s office, the Democrats in Colorado plan to end the constitutional restrictions and so forecasts of Colorado economic progress should include the poorer future prospects that will be the result.

    Colorado has had a decade of state mandated educational testing called CSAP. That testing has revealed a continuing failure of the educational establishment to improve education especially in the large metropolitan districts. The Democratic majority in the legislature has finally figured out how to solve this: propose eliminating the embarrassing parts of the CSAP test.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  53. SPQR: I’d support such a system — no growth beyond population growth and inflation rate except with voter approval (with a caveat for actual emergencies) — in California.

    But we’d end up having a fight over whether ‘voter approval’ should be simple majority, 55%, or 66%+1. Conservatives would insist on 66%+1, liberals would insist on a simple majority, and neither could get passed.

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  54. Aphrael, no – conservatives would support majority. You seem to be more interested in nit picking proposals.

    California is heading for an immense economic disaster sometime in the future with unsustainable government taxation rates because it has become ungovernable.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  55. SPQR: you aren’t familiar with California politics if you believe that. California currently has a system which requires voter approval for local special taxes (eg, a local sales tax with money to be directed to a specific cause, like road construction). We’ve had several fights in the last two decades over what percentage should be required to approve such things, and conservatives in California have *always* lined up behind the 66%+1 requirement for them.

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  56. That said, I’ll agree that California has become ungovernable, and repeat my claim that part of that is that there’s little to no communication across group lines, and that redistricting reform will help fix it (albeit, it isn’t going to be a cure all by any means).

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  57. PCB:

    Me, I wrote, debugged, installed, and trouble shot the software that enabled the Census Bureau to install and use a StorageTek “Silo” with their Sperry Legacy Unisys Mainframes.

    So, by your own admission you’re a government contractor. Bully for you, but that puts you in a very odd position to be calling someone else a tax leech (let alone a tax “leach”).

    Xrlq (b71926)

  58. In Wilson’s first term, CA was reduced to issueing warrants instead of checks.
    We came very close to BK – all it would have taken is three (3) holders of those warrants to drive the state into BK Court.
    Their restraint was not well considered.
    BTW, the City of Vallejo (once the capitol of CA) is now in BK Court.
    The City of San Diego is close to being forced into BK, or having major portions of its’ administration charged with securities fraud by the SEC.
    The unfunded pension/health-care problem with govt employees at all levels of CA govt is a looming crisis that will severely impact every taxpayer/property owner in the state.

    Another Drew (f9dd2c)

  59. How much of this financial concern can be identified as being caused by the presence of illegal immigrants in the State of California?

    Thank you for your time.

    The Outlander (e46c56)

  60. That is the 800-lb gorilla in the room, isn’t it?

    Another Drew (f9dd2c)

  61. XRLQ,

    Nope, was working for a Vendor to the Federal Government. I am not even programming. I am a System Programmer and an EDI Adiministrator for a privately held company. If you re-read that quote you pulled from my post, that was all in past tense.

    I still think A is a tax leech as A thinks money is the government’s first, and that the government comes first, not second in life.

    PCD (5c49b0)

  62. Outlander, that is one question liberals like A don’t want to face and answer truthfully. Like the Federal Luxury Tax, Illegals are a net drain upon the social safety net and upon the Government treasury at all levels.

    PCD (5c49b0)

  63. California is a sink-hole in terms of its fiscal future.

    You have elected representatives from Southern California who know their electoral prospects depend on continually increasing size of the nanny/welfare state. You have them joined by the liberal elite representatives from Northern California who can’t give away other people’s money fast enough.

    The entire state east of I-5 between Bakersfield and Oregon should sue for divorce and declare themselves “East California” — splitting Sacramento in half like Jerusalem.

    WLS (68fd1f)

  64. I still think A is a tax leech as A thinks money is the government’s first, and that the government comes first, not second in life.

    With all due respect, that’s retarded. A leech is an animal that personally sucks blood, not a person who advocates that others should be allowed to. If you believe government in general, or the one favored by Aphrael in particular, should itself be characterized as a leech, that’s one thing. But to call Aphrael himself a leech solely because his political views differ from yours (and mine, for that matter) is just lame.

    Xrlq (b71926)

  65. PCD: you can’t establish that I’m taking money from the government, so you redefine ‘leech’ so as to not require that? Interesting linguistic gymnastics, there.

    I don’t believe you can demonstrate, using things I have said, either that I believe money is the government’s first or that government comes first in life. If you persist in arguing that I do believe things that I’ve never said, and which can’t be reasonably inferred from things I have said, I’m forced to conclude that you are more interested in arguing with your internal caricature of me than you are in arguing with me.

    That’s your prerogative. But exercising it really makes you no different than the liberals who assume that you must be a fascist because you vote Republican.

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  66. XRLQ,

    Why aren’t those who facilitate the leeching of resources from the producers in this country not leeches? Just because they don’t personally have their fangs in your neck?

    PCD (5c49b0)

  67. 66, on that, XRLQ, is not the Mafia Don just as guilty of a murder as his hitman who commits the murder at his direction? In the same light, aren’t the same people who support, contribute to, and vote for the tax and spend politicians (Democrats and RINOs) in CA just as guilty of being the leeches as the leeches themselves?

    In Iowa and Illinois, there are politicians (Democrats) who are pushing for payraises for themselves at the expense of Education commitments and road repairs. Does that fit your definition of a tax leech? Then, aren’t the people who put them in office by extension also leeches?

    PCD (5c49b0)

  68. Changing the educational funding and structure almost certainly fails my requirement that the elimination be politically feasible.

    My requirement is that the solution to the budget problems do not include a increase in taxes.

    Kenny (76922b)

  69. Kenny: ok. since you insist on that, and a politically infeasible budget cut will be repealed by the voters as a ballot measure, we’ll just keep borrowing money until something gives.

    I mean, that’s basically the game California has been playing for the last fifteen years: the voters want neither budget cuts nor tax increases, so we borrow.

    Until we *as an electorate* decide that borrowing isn’t acceptable and compromise either on taxes or cuts or both, nothing’s going to change.

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  70. The California budget is only part of the problem. Worse is the distortion of the energy market, as described in that City Journal piece, and the education system, which has deteriorated into a jobs program for the middle class. The LA Unified School District as of the 2007-2008 school year, serves 694,288 students, has 45,473 teachers and has 38,494 other employees.[1] It is the second largest employer in Los Angeles County, after County government.[2] The total school district budget for 2008 was $19,986,000,000 US dollars.

    The New York Archdiocese schools, a few years ago, had nearly 500,000 students in Catholic schools with 500 non-teaching administrators. The numbers are lower now but there is still a large difference in non-teaching employees between Catholic schools and public schools, especially LAUSD. Fire about half those administrators, give some of the money to teachers and use the rest on the deficit.

    Mike K (6d4fc3)

  71. Aphrael,

    The California budget has grown by over 50% in the last 5 years, well outpacing both population growth and inflation.

    Really, there’s nothing in there that can be cut?????

    Thanks for playing. Your solution is for raising taxes, and for us consertvatives who believe in a limited government to compromise by accepting your tax raises. Why don’t you compromise by cutting some of the spending?

    Oh yeah, that’s right, you believe that money is the governments, not the peoples. And that the government knows best how to spend the money, not us individuals.

    Kenny (76922b)

  72. Kenny: 1) I’ve already said that I don’t believe there is nothing which can be cut. I’ve said that I don’t believe that there’s $20 billion which can be cut. Please don’t elide the difference between the two.

    2) I also think there are things which I would be perfectly happy to cut which would never survive a referendum, and I’d prefer to find a solution which stands a chance of working than to find a solution which I could support but which could never be enacted. The latter might make me feel good, but isn’t going to be particularly effective.

    3) I took a serious look at the budget in 2004 and couldn’t find $13 billion which both (a) looked politically feasible and (b) struck me as being a good idea. I’ve asked here several times if other people can find $20 billion in cuts; nobody has been able to present such a list. As far as I can tell, the position that $20 billion in politically feasible cuts can be found seems to be wishful thinking.

    4) My preferred solution would be a combination of tax increases and budget cuts. But that solution does not appear to be politically feasible.

    5) I’ve never said that I believe that money is the government’s. People keep imputing that position to me, but their imputation does not make it fact. What I do believe is that in a republic, the elected representatives of the people have the power to consent to taxation.

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  73. Also, your numbers are bad. According to the budget summaries of the 2002-03 budget and the proposed 2008-09 budget available at the state’s website, the 2002-03 budget was $98.9 billion, while the proposed 2008-09 budget is $111.8 billion. That’s a 13% increase over five years ago … which might be a lot, but it’s certainly not “over 50%”, and it’s not clear that it significantly outpaces the combination of inflation and population growth.

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  74. In fact, the commerce department’s inflation calculator at this webpage suggests that $98 billion in 2002 would be $116.3 billion in 2008, meaning California’s budget growth has failed to even keep up with inflation, let alone population growth.

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  75. aphrael,

    Every state has budget problems now and then but California has some special problems that make it more difficult to handle shortfalls.

    First, it bears a heavier burden than most states from the costs of illegal immigrants and immigrants with few skills/education. Second, it is a big state with a big budget, so it’s easier for small problems to turn into big problems. Third, it is a politically diverse state so there is no unanimity among state leaders on how to control the budget or spending.

    Fourth, government isn’t the most efficient manager of money and California is a good example. Maybe I’m wrong but if I’m right, those are problems money won’t solve.

    DRJ (a431ca)

  76. Cutting spending’s cute, but if you don’t cut government – meaning government employees, departments and the corresponding support structure, you won’t cut anything. In fact, regardless of tax increases, you will lose ground.

    That’s because the government departments and employees will continue to grow, as even the static rise in costs due to inflation (as you state in your #74) pushes budgets to the brink.

    Additional tax money is quickly dispersed into additional employees and newly created departments to “fix” problems that don’t exist, while the necessary inflationary costs of say – I don’t know – maybe infrastructure? – go unfunded.

    Aphrael is right, however, that it is impossible to cut anything due to too many individuals having a financial lifeline dependent on every single program and department’s existence, while single taxpayers rarely have any extreme example of waste on which to concentrate their ire. The solution? Catastrophe will be the necessary prime mover for change. If that’s what you want, then by all means support the status quo.

    Apogee (366e8b)

  77. DRJ: I do not disagree with anything you have said. :)

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  78. Sex toy taxes skyrocket; Lesbians hardest hit.

    Yeah, I could write headlines for the Dog Trainer.

    Pablo (99243e)

  79. It’s problems like these which make California a state in which to avoid doing business if at all possible. They set corporations up for potential retroactive and punitive regulation and taxation.

    daleyrocks (906622)

  80. #59, 60, & 62 – the issue of budget shortfalls will never be solved because of this very fact- no one will honestly address the staggering depeletion of resources that our state faces specifically due to illegal immigrants. Californians are being held hostage.

    Today I was looking at the budget for 08/09 school year where I work. The cuts are more than significant. However, while the overall budget will be approximately $45,000 for the general fund, the proposed budget for English Learners is double that – $91,000. It never ends.

    Dana (8e3918)

  81. Aphrael,

    With respect, my numbers are correct. You are just looking at the general fund numbers. I am looking at the total cost of government, so I’m including the Special funds and Bond funds as well. After the proposed 10% across the board cuts, that number is $141 Billion.

    (This information can also be found on the state web-site you linked to, check the governors budget, summary pages for a nice wrap-up)

    Aphrael is right, however, that it is impossible to cut anything due to too many individuals having a financial lifeline dependent on every single program and department’s existence, while single taxpayers rarely have any extreme example of waste on which to concentrate their ire. The solution? Catastrophe will be the necessary prime mover for change. If that’s what you want, then by all means support the status quo.

    Sadly it appears to be true…

    Kenny (76922b)

  82. Steverino sent me this link. Pretty interesting viewpoint. I don’t know if this guy would apply the same reasoning to state debts

    Thanks for mentioning me, EdWood.

    I think the matter of public debt is less applicable to a state than the federal government for the simple reason that it’s easier for people to move to a new state than it is to move to a new country. So, domestic growth in a nation is a lot more stable than in a state. Therefore, the ability to roll over debt is higher in a country than in a state, and that’s a key feature to a nation (or a business) carrying debt forward.

    steverino (b12c49)

  83. Fair point about the special funds, Kenny. But I don’t think you can lump the bond funds in that way unless you can establish what the *annual expenditure* from those funds is (as opposed to the total authorized debt).

    aphrael (db0b5a)


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