The New York Times news department has apparently become the official national propaganda machine of California’s liberals in control of state government, more-or-less in the same manner as the Soviet Communist Party’s newspaper Pravda served as the official organ of that one-party state in Russia during the Cold War.
At least that’s the impression some better informed observers can come away with after reading the Time’s crack reporter Adam Nagourney’s rather unbalanced homage to the loveliness of one-party liberal rule in California’s state capitol these days.
With a sharply uncritical eye, Nagourney’s front-page above-the-fold piece in last weekend’s newspaper gushes about the wonderful “gridlock ease” in state politics as a result of the Democrats achieving supermajority status in both Houses of the State Legislature and sweeping control of every single state constitutional office in the last election. “A parade of bill signings” (as if that’s a good thing) and legislative successes now characterize Democratic-dominated Sacramento according to the article, where legislators are working together to solve problems in moderation and harmony. This is in contrast to the awful “shutdown in Washington,” where presumably Republicans still have some influence.
But Nagourney goes further and speculates that the current “end-zone dance” by liberals in Sacramento may instead be attributable to enactment of a handful of measures affecting elections “intended to leach some of the partisanship” out of state governance. Before those changes, Nagourney reports that California “was the national symbol of partisan paralysis and government dysfunction.” But now, after changes to the method of district apportionment, loosening of term limits, and elimination of partisan primary elections, Nagourney suggests even some Republicans are gleeful.
“We’re seeing, almost against the odds, a more centrist legislature, at least when it comes to jobs and budget issues,” according to liberal Republican Sam Blakeslee. The new rules “gives Republicans the chance to break with their caucus on certain issues” added a former Schwarzenegger aide.
Pravda during the Soviet Union was not always reliable for deep inquiry into the facts, but it was always reliable for advancing “the party line.” Pravda always ignored reporting the difficult facts that might undermine confidence in the one-party state. Nagourney’s reporting on California surely advances the myth that the liberal elites in California would like the nation to believe: that the “people are happy” with their leadership and that their policies are good for the state. But in human terms, the results of their control are an economic calamity. And Nagourney, like a reporter for Pravda, has ignored the difficult facts.
You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to grasp that “partisanship” would soon be eliminated when liberal Democrats took complete partisan control of state government after the last election. There are no Republicans at all working in any state administrative office in the state capitol for them to battle, and with bleak representation in both the Assembly and State Senate, the GOP is simply powerless to achieve much of any policy related to the party’s platform.
All Republicans can do to have a taste of power is play ball with the Democrats and compromise on their party’s principles, a viewpoint shared by all of the particular Republicans carefully selected to be featured in the Time’s piece. If reporter Nagourney had taken time to talk to and quote one of the conservative Republicans still in the State Legislature, he would have gotten a completely different story about the actual consequences, in terms of policy, of the “easing of partisan gridlock” he reports on in Sacramento.
Liberals have actually been in control of California policy for some time. (Only recently have they come into complete control.) But the real story of what is happening in California today is not about how “gridlock ease” has been a good thing for the state. It hasn’t. Rather, it is about the woeful economic policies the liberals in control have leveled on the state, over the objections of a feeble and powerless GOP minority, and how dearly these policies are continuing to harm the state. Liberals now don’t have anyone else to blame for the rampant economic problems they have inflicted on the state other than themselves, and that is an important aspect of the real story.
Californians today are victims of the heaviest taxation of any citizens in the country. They must pay the highest marginal state income tax. California’s state income tax is 21% higher than the second highest state income tax in the nation (Hawaii) and 34% higher than the third highest state income tax (Oregon). They pay the highest sales taxes in the country and among the highest corporate income tax in the nation. The state tax on gas at the fuel pump, which disproportionately affects lower income Californians, is the highest in the nation. Though Californians continue to enjoy protections on big jumps in their real estate property taxes as a result of the historic “Proposition 13” tax cut, property taxes on both commercial and residential properties rank well above the national average.
As a result of California’s high taxes and many regulations, businesses and high-income earners who create new jobs are fleeing the state. “Why Are California’s Businesses Disappearing?” is a question asked in a recent article in Bloomberg BusinessWeek. Bloomberg has reported that California lost a staggering 73,000 businesses in 2012, the highest loss of business entities in the nation.
Forbes magazine rated California as 39th of the 50 states in terms of being business friendly. The American Legislative Exchange Council has ranked California 47th in economic outlook. CEO Magazine has rated California as the worst state to do business in for eight years in a row.
Our state educational system provides for teacher pay at among the highest in the nation, while student achievement on test scores ranks in the lower half of the nation. Stockton and San Bernardino are in bankruptcy court because of overspending, and USA Today predicts 10 more cities in the state are candidates for bankruptcy.
In the meantime, the public employee union member who manages traffic at the Bay Area Rapid Transit District train storage and maintenance yard in Oakland made $271,458 last year, which is more than the Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court was paid. California’s unfunded public employee pension liabilities are said to amount to $80 billion even by the pension system itself, but critics say the real unfunded liability is much more, a “ticking time-bomb” that threatens the solvency of the entire state and local government network.
All these problems and more exist because liberals have been successful on controlling policy in California. And it should therefore come as no surprise that California has an unacceptable 1,700,000 citizens who are now out of work, at 8.9% unemployment, among the highest unemployment rates in the nation and well above the national average of 7.3%. The unemployment rate is actually on the rise again in California according to the most recent statistics.
People are suffering. The jobless rate is not improving as in the rest of the nation, and the outlook is not good. And sadly the job creators are being given every reason to flee the state as a result of the policies of the same liberal politicians the New York Times news department accolades for “easing the partisan gridlock” in Sacramento.
There is sadly no rosy outlook in store for California as the current leaders in Sacramento consolidate their one-party control and continue their tax-and-spend policies, now also turning to the effective dismantlement of California’s initiative system, something the New York Times considers a source of “political dysfunction.” Yet if there is to be any hope for our state’s economic future, what the facts reveal are that we need more of what the Times calls “political dysfunction” in Sacramento, not less.
James V. Lacy’s first book, Taxifornia, is being published by Post Hill Press and is available for pre-order.