Meh Culpa

Calfornia Proposition 1C snatches $5 billion from the mouths of babes and children

Here they go again.  Arnie and the Legislature are using 1C to borrow from our children and their children and their children’s children.  1C borrows $5 billion from future lottery profits,  while taking 20 to 30 years to pay off the debt,  yet the proposition is being sold as a way to balance the budget. Over the long term passing 1C means that it’s going to make future budget balancing acts even more difficult.

What gets me is that this measure isn’t just a one-time deal, though no one really mentions that point.  1C allows borrowing from the lottery at any time in the future, which means the “loans” to the General Fund may never end, and the children of California from 5 to 21  wouldn’t be getting the Lottery money due their educational institutions.  Oh yeah, as long as  the debt needs repaying, that’s what the Lottery will do instead of abiding by the will of the voters who passed the Lottery measure for K through JC Education back in the 1980’s.

The politicians in Sacramento, especially the *cough*Republican minority*cough,* are all about taking Educational funding away.  It’s always the first thing to go.  And now it’s going ‘way back in the future.

The legislative analyst takes pains in the subjunctive to say that the state might not borrow from the Lottery after all, in which case it might cover future payments the General Fund provides for Education.  Yeah, right.   (Sorry for being all cynical, but the subjunctive doesn’t cover the concrete, it is the stuff of daydreamy maybes.  Castles in the Air, so to speak.)

As if we need more, there’s another problem: The General Fund that’s borrowing from the Lottery to balance a massive deficit would have to make up for payments the Lottery would usually make.  Sound convoluted?  It is.

Plus, if the money isn’t there now,  I doubt the General Fund can make up the balance owed from 2009-10 next year.  Maybe there would be enough money in the General Fund for a payback in some decade or other, but probably not this one. Which means trying to find the money from another program certain politicians like to cut from the General Fund (See 1E and Inside Governor Hoover’s Budget Revise*).  Funny, you don’t see the Gov’nor taxing the people who can most afford it. A Randian** Republican to his core,  Ahhhnold insists on screwing over The Little Guy and The Little Kids and the Disadvantaged Through No Fault of Their Own.

How much sense does this measure make so far?

For creative accountants, it’s great because it  means balancing the budget on paper.  But  it may also make  us less competitive in the future by taking brain candy from the babies’ mouths.  Frankly speaking, the 8th largest economy*** in the world  needs its competitive features, but we’ve been slipping for over a decade.   Considered the high-tech state, California is about 46th in the country in terms of schools’ technology access and use and the state cannot afford to lose what little it has.    Personally, I think passing 1C will help guarantee more slippage.

I don’t think we  can we afford more of what 1A / 1B  promises our kids and possibly their kids and grandkids–less rather than more.

Can you tell I’m voting NO?


* Most spectacularly (for anyone who doesn’t want to read much more): “[I]nstead of temporarily cutting various services, the Governor’s revised budget would cut them permanently, particularly in programs like Medi-Cal, In-Home Supportive Services, SSI/SSP, regional centers, Cash Assistance Program for Immigrants. …The vast majority of those cuts would be implemented regardless of the outcome of the May 19 ballot measures.” He’s also raising fees for residents of veterans’ homes.  Despicable.

** See also “The Troubled Economics of Ayn Rand.”

*** In 2007.  Whaddaya wanna bet we’re about 10th or 11th this year?

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May 16, 2009 Posted by | borrowing, California, conservative, Democrats, Depression, Economy, Education, far right, politics, poltical theories, Republicans, social theories | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Color Me Disgusted

Josh Gerstein and Craig Gordon’s article in Politico yesterday, “Should America Torture?,” begs the question by assuming it’s a reasonable question to ask based on the specious notion that maybe, just maybe, if torture works, it might be all right to use. Not only that, they insert a rationale for “outlawing torture”–as if it were never illegal in the first place–that neglects what Obama has said on the subject. Say Gerstein and Gordon:

Obama took water-boarding and other tactics out of use — not because experts said they never work, but because they offer a recruiting tool for al-Qaida that on balance made America less safe, not more, the White House said Thursday.

Uh, hellllllo?! During his inaugural speech, Obama said:


As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. Our founding fathers faced with perils that we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations.Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience’s sake.

….Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with the sturdy alliances and enduring convictions. They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead, they knew that our power grows through its prudent use. Our security emanates from the justness of our cause; the force of our example; the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.

There is nothing in that speech about stopping torture because it doesn’t work.  In fact, Obama repudiated the “false choice” between allegedly defending our nation in ways that he considered expedient because we somehow thought it would make us safe. In essence, he was arguing that we should act with courage rather than from fear.

Fear brought the Bush administration to its moral knees and left it cowering. Obama has tasked us with the obligation to stand on our feet once more.  I am not certain what the President’s up to now.   I think his political machinations may be such that he can say,”Oh, I’d rather just move forward,” while at the same time delegating authority to his Attorney General, who will decide what to do with those in the last administration that formulated torture as a policy and saw to it that war crimes were carried out by CIA operatives, medical personnel and psychologists. Obama may not approve the idea that Congress should investigate,  partly because some members of Congress approved torture themselves, but he may say something else,  such as, “I think we need to concentrate on the economy, health care and other government business.” That might be the best way for him to proceed, actually. And it would be strategically brilliant because how then could anyone blame him for legal proceedings?

This morning I brushed by an article on HuffPo entitled “Never Again.” How many times have we heard that mantra, and yet how many times, equally mantra-like,  does the same sort of thing happen over and over and over again? The Turks perpetrated genocide upon the Armenians, and still won’t admit to the crimes. The Nazis tried to exterminate all Jews, gypsies,  disabled, mentally ill, and homosexuals.  Serbians conducted ethnic cleansing on ethnic Albanians, Croats and Muslims.  They raped the women as a  tactic of war. The Tutsis massacred Hutus. The National Islamic Government of Sudan has taken Southern Sudanese women and children into slavery; the government-sponsored Janajaweed have murdered “upwards of at [least] 250,000 black Africans” in Darfur. The Israelis and the Palestinians have both perpetrated war crimes against each other.

Never again: those are just words now, a worn out refrain.

April 24, 2009 Posted by | Afghanistan, Arab world, Bush administration, Cabinet, Cheney, Congress, Defense, Executive branch, Gaza, Geneva Conventions, Guantanamo, human rights, Iraq, Israel, Middle East, National Security, Obama, politics, torture, war crimes | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Scariness: Projected California jobless rates through 2011


From: http://www3.signonsandiego.com/photos/2009/mar/25/26988/

April 4, 2009 Posted by | Bush administration, politics | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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