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The Fatal Idiocy of California

California is falling to pieces but its administrators are far too busy banning luxury foods to care. The state is failing to educate its kids, cannot house its prisoners or pay its bills; what was once the most vibrant and forward-looking state in the country has become a dismal failure — a social catastrophe that is a drag on the whole country’s performance.

It’s pathetic. A law passed in 2004 that bans foie gras across the state will come into effect on July 1. Animal protection agencies and their allies in the government ganged up and convinced their fellow Californians that this was the most important issue of the day. Geese and ducks, those poor birds and their tasty livers, fattened up and slaughtered to grace the tables at upscale restaurants, that’s just too much for a good Californian to have on his conscience. The animal activists really came out for this one. “People are allowed to eat food, not allowed to torture it first” — the president of the local Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. “How would you like to have a tube crammed down your throat and corn forced down it? It’s very inhumane” — the chairman of the California Democratic Party.

Congratulations California, your elected representatives don’t have time for the state’s real problems. They are busy — banning foie gras because its method of production involves cruelty to geese.

Who cares that the budget in California is such a catastrophe that the state has had to pay its obligations with scrip and delay tax refunds? Who cares that the state’s public schools are both some of the most expensive and poorest performing in the whole country? Who cares that employee pension funds are tens of billions short? That major cities face bankruptcy? That the once great public university system in California is on a one way trip to nowhere?

Such trivial concerns pale in the minds of California solons and administrators beside the terrible, terrible news that somebody somewhere is mistreating a goose.

This law is faddish, foppish, and terminally unserious. Jesus criticized foolish people of his time because they “tithed mint and dill and cumin” and neglected their serious moral duties. That is what California is doing, and its governing class has become both a laughingstock and a disgrace. The state’s powers that be are totally blind to the unmet economic and social needs of the vast majority of Californians. Instead they pander to the whims of upper middle class do-gooders, narcissistic trustifarians and addled show biz bigshots who keep looking for marginal issues to turn into moral crusades.

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  • Andrew Allison

    As an inmate of the asylum which California has become, I couldn’t agree more!

  • Derek Footer

    As a native Californian, it is painful to watch Texas become the poster child for optimism and the future, as we mimic Illinois and New York. Can’t leave San Diego though, too beautiful. And at least here the people seem to realize things have to change.

  • Pedro Marquez

    California is a caricature of a limousine left caricature.

    However I agree with the foie gras ban and for all I know Jesus would too. It really is cruel and unusual. In any case It will cost taxpayers less than, say, lowering the retirement age from 62 to 60, and it will have the similar effect of keeping champagne socialists distracted while public union benefits get slashed.

  • The Rest of the United States

    Dear California:

    You are hereby on notice that you must get you house in order. We won’t be bailing you out.

  • thibaud

    Fair points, all.

    Most Americans would say the same thing (more concisely and with a less spittle) about Rick Santorum’s “totally blind” obsession with contraception and other hobbyhorses of the other side’s berserkers.

    This election belongs to the party that can appeal to the sane center, the 10% of the electorate who are tired of both the starve-the-gum’mint Tea Party nuts and the Liz Warren/Hollywood goofs.

    Me, I voted Yes on my Calif city’s proposal to scale back outrageous pensions and pay for greedy cops who’d captured my city’s political class.

    This proposal which I and 70% of my city’s voters supported was put forth by a DEMOCRATIC mayor who framed the issue much more accurately, and without the Mead malice and spittle, as follows: People want their money to go to more and better _services_, not higher pay for public employees.

    Ditto for the 16% of Walker voters who also support and will vote for the president in the fall.

    The centrists who will swing this election do not want to shut down the government. We want to shut down the rent-seeking, the “pay to play” political corruption, the regulatory capture that has infected BOTH PARTIES.

  • Snorri Godhi

    This post could have mentioned the Dutch Partij voor de Dieren (Party for the Animals).

    To be fair to the Dutch, the party was started when Dutch finances were much better than Californian finances are now.
    Perhaps it would have been more appropriate to mention chairs on the deck of the Titanic.

  • Eurydice

    Wow, that’s a lot of anger for something that happened 8 years ago. And according to the “pathetic” article, a dozen countries have banned the production of foie gras (including the UK), so it must not be quite such a California upper-class fad.

    In any case, nowhere in the article does it say that California law makers are presently concerning themselves with the welfare of geese. Perhaps they shouldn’t have back in 2004, but then they Arnold to tell them everything was all right.

  • thibaud

    Here we go again with the smirks ‘n’ sneers brigade. Any time you discuss California on a political website, the discussion quickly degrades into playground taunts and name-calling between two camps, each defending a ridiculous and one-sided stereotype called “red” or “blue.”

    Pretty soon we’ll see a slanging match between the pro-Texas crowd and the pro-coastal California crowd, each pretending that its mythical model a) corresponds to reality and b) is right for the rest of the country.

    I’ve lived and worked in both Silicon Valley and Dallas. In the former, affordable housing is hard to find but jobs are widely available in my field. In the latter, jobs are harder to come by in my field, but housing is better.

    Texas has a broad-based economy but it’s not where I would put my tech company because the talent pool is much smaller and the wage difference is trivial compared to the difference between any US-based tech worker and offshore talent. So Silicon Valley has its advantages; so does Texas – depending on which angle you view the economy from.

    In California and Texas alike, it’s next to impossible to walk anywhere. Shopping mall owners and real estate developers have captured the legislative process in both states.

    Contrary to myth, California has too little regulation of its banksters – this is why that uber-fraud, Countrywide, based in California, became so huge.

    Contrary to myth, Texas has lots of regulation of its S&Ls and real estate lenders. This is the biggest reason that the TX housing market is healthier than CA’s housing market – again, the supposedly “blue” state is actually red, and the “red” state is actually blue in this regard.

    In SV, the schools are mediocre, largely because of the challenge of educating so many children from families that don’t give a hoot about education. Ditto for Dallas.

    In SV, we have some environmentalist teachers who occasionally spout silliness about the planet’s future. In Dallas we had some fundamentalist teachers who occasionally spout idiocy about the planet’s origins. In neither case did this occasional goofiness override the core problem of fellow students and families that don’t care about educational achievement, cultural attainment, reading, investigating ideas etc.

    I could go on, but you get the point. There’s a large core of Americans who do not yak on websites or make lots of noise about their political views but who nonetheless are passionate about moving beyond the stale hackery and “red v blue” foodfight that degrades our discourse and makes it hard to get solutions to our common problems.

    A pox on both your tired houses.

  • Emerson

    I live in Los Angeles and agree that California is a sinking ship (I didn’t mean to type a “p” in that last word). I also think you can do more than one thing at a time. I eat meat but the torturing of animals has no appeal to me so a ban on foie gras sounds like the lament of foodies with cash to spare.

  • proof

    It’s getting so bad you can’t parody California any more. Our legislators over the years have designated a State: Animal, bird, Color, Dance, Fife and Drum Corps, Fish, Flag, Flower, Folk Dance, Fossil*, Gemstone, Gold Rush Ghost Town, Grass, Historical Society, Insect, Marine Fish, Marine Mammal, Military Museum, Mineral, Motto, Nickname, Prehistoric Artifact, Reptile, Rock, Seal, Silver Rush Ghost Town, Soil, Song, Tall Ship, Tartan, Theater, and Tree
    *Not Jerry Brown (we think)

  • proof

    “Congratulations California, your elected representatives don’t have time for the state’s real problems.” On the other hand, US Senators are looking to make the bison the “national mammal”. It’s not like those guys have solved all their problems yet, either.

  • John Barker

    Hey,you can make foie gras with tofu and hummus. Serve it with chilled carrot juice and gluten free crackers. Enjoy!

  • silia

    This is sick. Libs are wrong on many things but not on this.

  • Mark Michael

    Re: those poor geese!

    Not that this should sway one’s opinion about banning foie gras, but Canadian geese have overrun the little city park where I go for a daily 2-mile walk. They stay year ’round and people (against posted signs) like to feed them. Geese are nasty creatures – very territorial – don’t get in their space or they’ll come after you! Plus, they’re awfully messy – leave their poop all over.

    When those PETA types seem to raise animals to the level of saints, it says a lot more about them than the character of those animals in the wild, which is a more dog-eat-dog survival of the fittest environment than an Eden before the Fall. [Not to knock Obama and his eating dog-meat in Indonesia as a boy!]

    Re: Comment 5, last para.

    “The centrists who will swing this election do not want to shut down the government. We want to shut down the rent-seeking, the ‘pay to play’ political corruption, the regulatory capture that has infected BOTH PARTIES.”

    This is a strawman argument. It’s a caricature of what the Tea Party types and more Libertarian types would like for government and its role in society.

    It’s easy to refute something this extreme, but it doesn’t represent the vast majority of Tea Party members that I’ve met, at least not here in Ohio.

    Most are small businessmen who feel the full brunt of government regulations. They can’t afford the staffs of lawyers, accountants, diversity experts that big corporations can. Those big companies can spread the cost over many more employees/revenue base, etc.

    They have great respect for government IN ITS PROPER ROLE. Government is essential for the proper running of any country. James Madison’s comment (I think it was he), “If we were all saints, there’d be no need of government.”

    He went on to say that if only saints were in government, there would be no need for the myriad checks and balances we have in our Constitution, either. Those saints would only use the police powers of the state when absolutely necessary.

    They wouldn’t be tempted to be little dictators telling us every detail of how we should live our lives. (“Don’t eat so much fat! Reduce your salt intake. No foie gras.”)

    When I’ve talked with small businessmen, they often personally struggle with the myriad regulations that come down the pike from our beloved lovers of big government.

    Tea Party types are very patriotic, they fully respect the rule of law, they fully respect government when it stays within the traditional role of being the watchdog of society. They (IMO) mostly feel it hadn’t taken on so many ordinary functions of society that private, voluntary organizations are perfectly capable of doing – it would do a much better job of being an efficient, fair, color-blind watchdog over the private sector.

    Consider the K-12 public schools as of today. About 95% of American students attend public schools. When R’s push for some rather limited school choice, things like charter schools, vouchers, tax credits for tuition at private schools, we get outlandish screams that we’re destroying the middle class, ruining education for everybody, etc.

    Never mind that before about 1850 just about all K-12 education was provided by private schools, most of them religious schools. The big movement for public education did not really get a full head of steam until the 2nd half of the 19th Century and into the 20th Century.

    I believe Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy In America noted the above, since he visited America between 1830 and 1835. I think it was he who remarked that Americans were on average much better educated than their counterparts in Europe, thanks to our private school system.

    We did not have educate the elite (top 10%, say) as well as the Europeans, but we talk the basics to just about everyone. Nearly all had a grade school education that gave them the ability to read, write, and do basic math.

    It was a key reason that America had a higher per capita income than the Europeans almost from day one. Economics was a very strong reason so many Europeans emigrated to America. The wealthiness of the ordinary American made its way back to Europe by word of mouth. “Go to America, they all get rich there.”

  • vanderleun

    ” Who cares that employee pension funds are tens of billions short? That major cities face bankruptcy? That the once great public university system in California is on a one way trip to nowhere?”

    As a graduate of UC Berkeley I am sure I am not alone when I say, “Frankly, dear Mead, I don’t give a damn.”

    Again we come to the realization that “If something cannot be sustained it won’t continue.”

    The more disaster that this state rains down on itself, the more pain its clueless voters experience, the better.

    The quicker, the better.

    The more intense, the better.

    Let. It. Rot.

  • Randy

    Dr. M,

    Following up on the New Testament metaphor, allow me to suggest an appropriate catch-phrase for these administrators: strainer-swallowers. They’re one step devolved below hunter-gatherers.

  • Randy

    Also: super like to what vanderleun wrote.

  • thibaud

    I’m also a big fan of foie gras, btw. Vive la resistance!

  • Jules

    Concern for the suffering of our fellow creatures is the norm in rich, civilized countries. Indeed, it seems to be a uniquely Western characteristic. (Not that California is all that Western anymore). What I don’t understand is why this law should be discarded simply because of the economic state of California. Is there something about making geese suffer less that is getting in the way of addressing economic issues? Surely not.


    “This law is faddish, foppish, and terminally unserious.” And not for the first time. Some years ago (Riordon was LA Mayor) the feel-good crowd put a measure to ban horse meat as human food. Every single politician as well as the usual animal rights suspects rallied to the bandwagon. Of course, nobody could point to anyone actually eating horse meat – although it was a staple of diet in horse-oriented Native American cultures, none Californian. Nor did any of the advocates mention, or seek to ban, the widespread use of horse meat in pet food.

  • Corlyss

    They need a new bumper sticker for Ca.:

    California! The Democrats special interest paradise!

  • Glen

    California is the way that it is precisely because it is run by “upper middle class do-gooders, narcissistic trustifarians and addled show biz bigshots.”

    Importantly, no one in any of these groups is even minimally affected by the failures of California’s government and its economy.

  • Jim.


    California laws directed to “ease the suffering” of chickens have pushed the price of that meat out of the price range of the poor, as it goes from one of the most affordable meats in the grocery aisle to one of the pricier, and has caused no end of competitive disadvantages (aka suffering) for California chicken farmers. Now we have to import chickens loaded with preservatives, to keep prices low.

    I’ll continue to root for humans, thanks, and against all the “trustifarians” and nanny-staters whose blind self-righteousness has caused unintended consequences have ruined this state.

  • Lorenz Gude

    As a superannuated member of the Eastern Intellectual Establishment I remember clearly that even in the 40s and 50s California appeared decidedly nutty to New Yorkers. So while there is certainly a Red Blue dynamic here there is also a Blue Blue dynamic at play. I’d like to see Professor Meade turn his attention to how Christie and Cuomo are faring with their pension and related issues in Blue East. And by all means contrast their efforts to Governor Moonbeam’s.

  • Ari Mendelson

    Dietrich Doerner, in his book “The Logic of Failure” calls this failure mode “horizontal flight.

    “Horizontal flight: It is described as follows: In horizontal flight the leader becomes obsessed with admin and trivia. This acts as a huge comfort blanket to them in the crisis. For example, the company is going down but the leader is locked away personally designing a new logo or selecting a new stationery supplier.”


  • GC

    If only you realized that geese are actually
    human beings disguised as geese.

  • koblog

    Can we blame foie gras on France? Who cares if rich people can’t buy it anymore? Normal people have never tasted the stuff.

  • Rich

    Californians, please stay where you are. Don’t move from the hell you have created and create other hellish states.

  • Blacque Jacques Shellacque

    “Such trivial concerns pale in the minds of California solons and administrators beside the terrible, terrible news that somebody somewhere is mistreating a goose.”

    They also pale in the minds of a majority of California voters. After all, they voted for 70s retread Jerry Brown.

  • Carlos

    The lunacy of left-coasters knows no bounds. Thank goodness that the common folk in such places as San Diego, San Jose, and even Wisconsin appear to have come to their senses.

    Obama’s looming loss this November will, one hopes, be a harbinger of Democrat doom in the People’s California Republic as well.

  • bpbatista

    Don’t hold back, Mr. Mead.

    Tell us what you really think.

  • AD-RtR/OS!

    “…Contrary to myth, Texas has lots of regulation of its S&Ls and real estate lenders…”

    The writer conveniently forgets, or is too young to remember, that the S&L Fiasco of the 80’s was centered at Vernon Savings & Loan in Texas. Perhaps that is why TX has taken an aggressive stance on regulating its real-estate sector.

    Since foie gras has such a limited presence in the overall food market, if those who do consume it decided that they would not purchase foie gras produced under present methods, I’m sure those limited number of suppliers would either change their methods, or depart the industry.
    Either way, problem solved without creating another law, and another bureaucracy to enforce it.
    But then, some Nanny, somewhere, would not be able to feel superior about them-self.

  • cowgirl

    Oil was once the number one business in California. Now it barely exists.
    Agriculture was the number two business in California. Thanks to the Delta Smelt and a variety of other laws instituted by the “feelings” of liberals agriculture is on its way out – we are now importing our food from Mexico and South America. Gee importing oil for those stable Middle Eastern countries worked well so heck why don’t we do the same with our food.

    Believe it or not horses were once a huge business in California. At one time there were over 650 PRCA rodeos put on a year across the state of California. Almost all the colleges and universities through the North, and South Central Valley had huge college rodeo teams. They attracted kids from out of state to attend our colleges and universities and be on the rodeo teams. At one time the Central Valley was the Cowboy Capital of the World where big names like the Camarillos (who completely turned the sport of Team Roping into the high stakes sport it is today – but not in California) Bach, Hurley, Greens, Lockett and the list goes on and on were winning the Rodeo Titles at the National Final Rodeo. The Cowboy Capital of the World is now Stephensville, Texas. Over the past 15 years the sport of rodeo in CA has been decimated. All the big names have moved to where else but Texas, there are less than 200 PRCA rodeos in California a year and there are 3 junior colleges and two universities who have rodeo teams. The animal rights activists have destroyed it. Now one might think well how much money can rodeo generate – a whole lot. Just break it down.

    I was with good friend on Monday and she is big into dressage – like I was before I had a kid who wanted to ride rodeo. She was telling me that the hunter/jumper and dressage circuit in CA is starting to dwindle – the reason ANIMAL RIGHTS ACTIVISTS. Now keep in mind that hunter/jumper and dressage is big big money. Akiko Yamazaki the wife of Alan Yamazaki who help start YAHOO lives in Woodside and is big into dressage horses – big in like millions of dollars for importing horses from Europe. I told my friend that they better watch out – The Animal Rights Activists in California managed to decimate rodeo. They are not finished and will be coming after hunter/jumper and dressage horses soon. She agreed and said that the dressage/hunter/jumper people in CA are worried – I told her that they better be. Too bad they did not help out the rodeo people to stop the decimation of rodeo. She agreed.

    What is that saying…. Making a pac with the Animal Rights Activists is liking making a pac with Hitler, it just means you are next.

  • Bohemond

    As one blogger observed, commenting on Bloomberg’s demented soda ban: “Leave it to Americans to come up with a Puritan epicurianism.”

  • Doug Santo

    Nothing to add to this. Outstanding Mr. Mead.

    Doug Santo
    Pasadena, CA

  • Uniblogger

    I have lived in California for most of my life and cannot help remembering ‘how it used to be’ instead of the ugly reality of today. But it really hits home when the Freeways become blocked by huge flocks of geese being herded to the Nevada state line in response to California’s new foie gras law, California S.B. 1520.

    This law is the classic example of why we need a part-time legislature in Sacramento. The complete political control by unopposed Democrats, for all these years, has resulted in the whole State becoming the sad equivalent of Detroit City. If it weren’t for the influx of undocumented aliens, this State would be emptying faster than ‘you know what’ through a goose.

  • Whitehall

    As a voter in San Jose, I received an invitation to a town meeting with my assemblyman where the sole item on the agenda was the new child booster law requiring kids up to 8 years old sit in boosters in automobiles.

    I called and complained that he was trying to distract the citizens from his party’s failure to address the budget deficit. I got no response.

    Until voters remove some of these elected representatives for dereliction of duty, nothing will change.

  • sestamibi

    Hey, the rot is spreading eastward. Here in next door Nevada, the legislature last year couldn’t find time to draw up a new reapportionment plan, but did manage to pass a measure to prohibit discrimination against trans-gendered individuals.

  • Over50

    California’s primary reason for being these days is to serve as a warning to the other States.

  • thibaud

    @#32 – “The writer conveniently forgets, or is too young to remember, that the S&L Fiasco of the 80′s was centered at Vernon Savings & Loan in Texas. Perhaps that is why TX has taken an aggressive stance on regulating its real-estate sector.”

    As I’ve observed here before, that’s EXACTLY why Texas cleaned up its RE finance sector. (btw I remember the S&L crisis well – say hello to Neil Bush and the Silverado gang if you see them for me…)

    What is strange beyond belief is why this nation is not applying lessons learned from the early 1990s – not just in Texas but also in the nordic countries at that time – to force real reforms, and in some cases, real financial workouts, upon our coddled financial sector.

    Again, the issue here is not, as VM likes to believe, red vs blue. Our political class overall has been captured by certain sectors that are, more than anything else, hindering real recovery and widespread hiring in this nation: the TBTF banks and the health insurance leeches.

  • Mike_K

    “Rick Santorum’s “totally blind” obsession with contraception and other hobbyhorses of the other side’s berserkers.”

    Notice that he is not the nominee. Robert Casey, the pro-life former governor of Pennsylvania, was blocked from speaking at the Dem convention a few years ago because of his views. I’ll take the big tent, thank you.

  • Scott

    I’ve lived in both states (SF and Austin). Uniblogger hits a key point. By state constitution, the Texas legislature meets every other year for 90 days. Some wags say that was a typo and it’s really only supposed to meet for two days every 90 years. In any event, the contitution is pretty restrictive, changing laws in many areas requires constitutional amendment, the constitution is still very supportive/biased towards private property rights and the executive branch (governor and his/her bureaucracy) is not very powerful in its own right. So the adage, “the idle mind is the devil’s playground” applies. The state runs pretty well because the government isn’t sitting around thinking up things to do to make our lives better — we have to do that on our own.

  • Buzz

    There are other ways to deal with the cruelty (which I oppose) than to ban the food (which I don’t like, but I have no problem with others enjoying).

  • FrancisChalk

    #19 Jules: Do you understand the the saying “Rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic”?

  • thibaud

    @41 – in other words, outlawing abortion is a unicorn, a losing issue for anyone from any national party.

    And yet one party continues to gin up political sideshows about it. Why?

  • PTL

    …and the band plays on.

  • california serf

    Some of the comments here miss the point. It is not a question of whether the production of foie gras is cruel — it’s that the state legislature spends ALL its time and energy on trivial matters. Regulations on sidewalk reflective tape – to minimize global warming – is another of their issues. Comedians couldn’t come up with material more worthy of a joke than the bills that come out of the California legislature.

  • Mike

    Many seem to accept as self-evident that it is politically legimate to ban behavior which they find personally repellant regardless of what the behavior actually is. I have never had fooey grass (or whatever it is) and likely never will. But people’s liberty and freedom are more important than geese. I am almost ready to believe that California deserves what is about to happen to it.

  • richard40

    to thibaud

    I agree with most of what you say, except for your condemnation of the Tea Party. I think you are condemning a charactiture you heard from leftists, rather than the actual organizations positions.

    For one thing, the Tea Party is generally neutral on social conservative issues, due to a strong libertarian influence, and does not pander to the Santorum and Creationist socons you condemn.

    The only thing the Tea Party wants is an end to crony capitalism (something you condemned), an end to excessive regulation (exemplified by the completely unreasonable persecution of Gibson Guitar, and the EPA guy that loves to crucify people), an end to unsutainable spending, an end to Obamacare, no more bailouts and wasteful stimulus, and a return to constitutional gov limits.

    Presently the fed gov is spending a totally unsustainable 24% of GDP, the highest level since WW2. If we cut it by 25% we would return to the 18% of GDP that was spent under Clinton, when we also had a balanced budget. I suspect most Tea Partiers would be satisfied with that, and in fact the supposedly cruel and social darwinian Ryan plan actually only cuts back to 20% of gdp. And the Tea Party has had countless rallies, welcoming all races and creeds, none of them having any kind of lawlessness, and always cleaning up after themselves (unlike OWS). For supporting the Ryan Plan, and insisting on modest spending cuts, Obama/Pelosi/Reid condemn the Tea Party as terrorists. At the same time, the dem senate has not produced a budget at all in 3 yrs, and Obamas rediculous budgets cant even get support from dems.

    Take some time to find out what the Tea Party actually stands for, instead of what lying dems SAY they stand for. What is really needed is for the dems to have their own version of the fiscally responsible Tea Party (not OWS, those guys are anarchist/socialist nuts), and purge themselves of the completely fiscally irresponsible and cronyistic Obama/Pelosi/Reid wing, just like the repubs reformed themselves (with Tea Party pressure) after their loss in 2008. some dems like Clinton, Cuomo, Booker, and others are already headed that way. Then we might have a real 2 party system, where both parties can recognize fiscal realities (with slightly different spending and tax priorities), and can jointly move the country forward.

  • Thucydides

    “Importantly, no one in any of these groups is even minimally affected by the failures of California’s government and its economy.”

    Too true. There is enough accumulated capital in the monied, silver spoon socialist set to last them at least a generation even if the rest of the State economy totally collapses. (Worst case scenario, they just pack their bags and bring their madness to another State).

    Perhaps their strategic intent is to use their wealth to insulate them from the economic dislocations happening all around them while waiting for the rest of the United States to come and bail them out.

    They may find a different fate awaiting them; swinging from lamp posts might be the true end game in California…

  • The Reticulator

    This topic is something to bring up again when the left tells us that the more responsible states should bail out California.

  • PacRim Jim

    A few decades ago, California was a Republican, hence business-oriented, state.
    Then millions of Eastern democrats moved in, bringing the same ideologies that caused them to leave the east.
    Presto change-o,
    California looks like the East Coast.
    Sic transit gloria mundi

  • thibaud

    Yes, I gave the TPers a close look, and found their reasoning to be either nutty (as in the famous “Get the government out of my medicare!” slogan, or their Texas hero’s personal investment portfolio that’s weighted over 50% in one extremely volatile, speculative asset) or totally cynical, as in the case of Paul Ryan’s budget.

    Ryan is supposedly the smart one, so his refusal to admit that his slash-and-burn “Path to Prosperity” cuts fall almost entirely (ca $2.9 trillion, or 2/3ds of total cuts) on LOW-INCOME recipients – he claims the opposite, that he’s actually helping the poor – is beyond disingenuous. It’s a bold-faced lie, and not even a well-disguised one.

    Here’s the nonpartisan economics journalist Robert Samuelson’s take on Ryan’s scorched-earth budget that ignores programs for middle-class and wealthy Americans and slashes programs for the poor – Samuelson:

    “We won’t make much progress until (a) Democrats concede that spending control requires genuine cuts in Social Security and Medicare, which now total $1.3 trillion annually and represent 35 percent of federal outlays; and (b) Republicans acknowledge that, even after significant spending cuts, tax increases will be needed to balance the budget.

    “Last week [ie early 2011], there was little sign of either. President Obama rebuffed Social Security and Medicare cuts. Most Republicans held fast on taxes.

    “What we have instead is a public relations war. Both parties propound brands of wishful thinking designed to make it seem that they’re accomplishing more than they are.

    “Start with the Republicans. House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s plan fulfills the no-tax-increase requirement. Yet, deficits shrink. How does he do that?

    “Well, [Ryan] doesn’t touch Social Security, the government’s biggest program with $9.9 trillion of projected spending from 2012 to 2021. He does propose a voucher program for Medicare, but it doesn’t take effect until 2022 and exempts the 77 million Americans now 55 and over. Ryan isn’t picking a fight with seniors.

    “[Ryan] achieves big savings by assuming deep cuts to most of the federal government beyond Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Ultimately, it would shrink to almost nothing. That’s defense, food stamps, highways, federal courts, basic research … and much more. Altogether, these programs constitute about 12 percent of GDP. By 2022, Ryan’s plan would reduce them to 6 percent of GDP; by 2050, they’d be about 3 percent, estimates the CBO.

    “The United States would virtually disarm, dismantle much of the social safety net and starve important federal responsibilities, from environmental regulation to the FBI. This isn’t likely to happen — and shouldn’t.”

  • thibaud

    I think that reasonable Americans, including most GOPers from my father’s and John Danforth’s generation, would agree that sacrifice needs to be shared. You don’t slash and burn low-income recipients’ programs while exempting middle-class, elderly and affluent Americans because, well, y’know, that’s not the American way. Earlier generations of Republicans got that. Even Nixon understood that, and proposed a guaranteed income.

    Likewise, the libertarian nuts have distorted Keynesian economics beyond all recognition, making it difficult if not impossible for the government to do even well-crafted and vitally necessary, timely and temporary stimulus programs. So, due in no small measure to fears of GOP obstructionism, we got an intervention that was half-arsed and off-target, one that – in sharp contrast to Germany’s – has had little impact on unemployment overall and no impact on the long-term unemployed.

    And then there’s the idiocy of resisting “government intervention” in favor of that mythical free market for healthcare, despite all the massive evidence that healthcare is a pseudo-market with no price transparency and next to no price-elasticity of demand, that for-profit insurers have gamed this non-market relentlessly to their advantage and have captured the regulatory apparatus, and that nation after nation delivers excellent financial and health outcomes with universal health insurance.

    I would like the old GOP back, the one of dedicated, good-faith, honest public servants like Dick Lugar and John Danforth. Heck, even Jack Kemp showed more concern for struggling Americans – ie, the majority today – than these immature Ayn Rand groupies.

  • thibaud

    One more example of why the TPers aren’t to be taken seriously is Scott Brown’s shilling for the TBTF banksters and the carried-interest hedgefund scammers.

    It’s really hard to take seriously your claims to be in favor of reform when the TP hero of the Class of 2010 is diligently working behind the scenes to gut the Volcker Rule.

  • M. Simon


    Don’t worry. When the pain gets to be enough solutions will be found. And they probably won’t be government solutions.

    Milton Friedman once estimated that the economy could grow 10% a year if the government was limited to its Constitutional responsibilities.

    Doubling the size of the economy every 7+ years seems like a better plan than steal and redistribute.

    But you know how it works. Anything that can’t continue – won’t.

    I remember we had a period of about 8% growth for a year or 18 months. Salaries were rising very fast and no one paid attention to the minimum wage because demand for labor was so high.

    Growth is a better prescription for economic health than theft (taxes).

  • Matthew Hall

    You really stuck a never, Walter. Through American history each region has had its day and then needed help as it lost its way. Virginia and the Carolinas had been booming and powerful before 1820 or so and then started to fade as the mid-atlantic and Northeast urbanized and industrialized. The confederate south was a booming region of growth up to the eve of the Civil War and then lost out to the industrial Midwest for almost a century. The Midwest has declined since the 1970s while the former confederacy has surged ahead. Each dog has his day and if we help each other after their day is done, history suggests that they’ll get another. California did much for the U.S., but it’s day is done, for now. We should help it rebuild for future decades. Now, the South and the industrial midwest better get to work providing jobs elsewhere for California’s who want to leave and tax income for the federal govn’t to transfer to California so those who stay can rebuild it for future generations. The U.S. is like a family of squabbling regional siblings. We have rivalries, but don’t want to see each other truly fail.

  • Walter Sobchak

    The tender concern all you folks have for geese (nasty creatures) reminds me of one my favorite scenes from the movies. Oliver Stone’s “Wall Street”

    Gekko and Bud sit alone, wreathed in steam.

    BUD: Nice club, Mr. Gekko.

    GEKKO: Yeah, not bad for a City College boy. Bought my way into this club
    and now every one of these ivy league schmucks is sucking my kneecaps.

    I just got on the Board of the Zoological Society, cost me a million. That’s the thing with WASPS, they like animals but they can’t stand people.

  • bigdaddy

    Will the last person to move to Colorado please TURN OUT the lights !

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