I'm baaaaaaack.

Hoarding All the Glitter Since 2001.

04 July 2012

Dear Fellow California Voters,

I am delighted that you join me in panning the Governor's Legislature-approved plan to destroy the state's public schools if you don't vote for his tax initiative.  I agree that the Governor's scorched-earth tactics are offensive (and somehow manage to lightly singe the wealthy while charring the poor, but I digress).  I would also add that both tax plans will do far too little for California's schools - even if either/both pass, schools will still be drastically underfunded - and nothing to ameliorate ongoing, structural issues that condemn poor schools and poor districts to inadequate funding.

However, I feel compelled to observe that if neither tax initiative passes, these cuts will happen.  Your disgust will not stop them.  Recalling Brown and installing some Republican will not stop them.  And they will be absolutely brutal to your local public schools.

A few comments on common misconceptions:

  1. There may be waste, but thousands are not billions.  Any large bureaucracy, be it private or public, is going to waste some money.  At some size point, streamlining ends.  However, small areas of waste - be they the fancy car allowances we give our state government elected officials, a redundant clerk in some office, etc. - are small.  And even collectively, they will not cover the proposed cuts.  Anyone blathering on about waste failed second grade math lessons on place value.
  2. There is no magical money tree.  Indeed, corporations pay far too little to the state.  They won't even pay taxes to maintain the infrastructure they use.  But unless you are willing to significantly raise taxes or even overturn/rework Proposition 13, there won't be any money for education and social services in California.  Nor will the stingy federal government be opening its purse strings any time soon.
  3. The state GOP benefits from not having to have a plan.  California's elected Republicans would like you to know that they oppose all school funding cuts.  They also oppose all new taxes and revenues.  See points 1 and 2.
  4. You cannot blame this on undocumented Californians or the poor.  Again, this is an issue of place value.  Social service funding - which undocumented Californians do not receive - amounts to very little.  Poor people are not living well on your dollars.  Undocumented Californians are not privy to secret government cash funds from which you are barred.  Hating those who have less than you is far easier than structural changes that would actually make a difference but also threaten those in power.
  5. Nor can you blame pensions - and you should have one, too.  The state's pension funds are slightly underfunded - no real surprise given the state of the money markets.  Contrary to popular belief, the worker-funded pensions are neither overly generous or destroying California's prosperity for years to come.  They are providing a moderate retirement to the state's firefighters, teachers, police officers, and social servants: hard working and well-educated people who accepted moderate salaries in exchange for a decent retirement.  Rather than despising those who have a retirement fund that will support their needs, it would be better to ask why extraordinarily wealthy individuals would prefer to add to their money mountains rather than provide all workers with a guaranteed retirement.  California's schoolteachers do not demand you work until you die to support them.  California's corporations do: the infrastructure for which you pay, and the state's  unequal tax burden (personal taxpayers pay more than corporations) support ever-higher corporate profits.  Yet these companies prefer to stockpile their cash and provide multi-million dollar pensions to their executives - who already have more money than they can spend - rather than doing well by their employees.
In short, I hope you'll join me in gritting your teeth and voting yes on both tax initiatives in November.  And after the vote, I hope to see you also organizing to send Proposition Thirteen into retirement.

Best,

E. Rat

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