Sunday, September 14, 2008

A Great Editorial On City Spending

I wanted to encourage readers to take a look at this article by Berkeley resident Barbara Gilbert.

I was surprised to see the strongly liberal Berkeley Daily Planet publish such a strong article in its entirety. Gilbert does an excellent job at describing the sorts of public-employee giveaways which bankrupted Vallejo and are doing the same thing to other East Bay cities.

My biggest confusion with this article is Gilbert's insistence that she supports Obama for president in spite of her seemingly strong understanding of the dangers of out-of-control liberal spending. Perhaps she is just fed up with Republicans in Washington, which is fair enough given the country's state.

Gilbert's editorial reminded me of another article I read in the Contra Costa paper this weekend regarding Democrats who have moved from California to traditionally red states such as Colorado and Nevada. These transplants, according to the article, moved there because of the high cost of living here in Calfornia.

The irony -- yes, I checked with my wife and "irony" is the right term for it -- is that these folks plan to vote for Democrats in their new homes. So, presumably within 10 or 20 years, they'll be fleeing again from a high-tax, high-cost locality to yet another spot. Perhaps they should consider the fact that it is at least partially their voting behavior which causes their high cost of living.

I guess some people never learn.


  1. My biggest confusion with this article is Gilbert’s insistence that she supports Obama for president in spite of her seemingly strong understanding of the dangers of out-of-control liberal spending.

    And my biggest confusion is conservatives' insistence that electing Obama will lead to out-of-control spending, when our most recent Democratic President presided over Federal surpluses, relatively slow growth in Federal spending (I believe it actually fell as a percentage of GDP), and a booming economy, while McCain's economic policies more closely resemble the policies of Bush, who has presided over, you guessed it, out-of-control spending and the biggest economic mess we've had in decades -- an economic mess that looks likely to worsen by the time the next president is inaugurated.

    Yes, McCain claims that he will freeze and then reduce spending, but the only specific thing I hear him mention is eliminating earmarks -- which are actually a very small fraction of the Federal budget, despite the enormous attention they are given by McCain. If he has any specific ideas about more significant spending that he wants to cut, I can't find them on his website, which only talks vaguely about "reviewing" all programs and "streamlining" and "modernizing" and "eliminating" them as needed.

    Didn't Bush also promise to reduce spending when he was running for President? How did that work out?

    I guess some people never learn.

  2. I don't want to turn this blog into a national-politics debate, but I think there is validity to your points.

    One thing I'd mention, though, is that the "booming economy" under Clintion is at least partially a canard. GDP and tax receipts jumped in the late 1990s due to a bubble. That bubble shifted from technology to housing, and it continues to unwind. I don't think anything past 1996 can be considered a "normal" economy.

  3. On problem with this editorial is that the author explicitly states that Prop 13 isn't the problem, but then notes that the average taxpayer has an assessed value half that of the market value of a median home in Berkeley. So, Prop 13 is seriously distorting the tax base, making it harder to raise taxes fairly. I know that's not your concern, Boss, but it's a problem with this article.

    For a little context, Berkeley voters have rejected most (or every?) bond and tax measures put before them since 2002. Though the general direction of the city keeps being reaffirmed in elections, voters do not seem to be keen on giving the city more revenue.

  4. Yes, things are always complicated -- you could also have pointed out that Clinton faced an opposition Congress from 1994 on, which prevented him from spending as much as he perhaps would have otherwise.

    My main point, without getting deeper into the economic debate, is that it's silly to suggest that anyone who cares about fiscal responsibility is crazy to support Barack Obama over John McCain. Even if someone accepts your premise that Obama will likely increase spending more than McCain, there are plenty of other things to consider when deciding which candidate will make wiser choices on economic policy and other matters.

  5. I was shocked to see that coherent letter published in the Daily Planet, in fact I sent it to people because I was so impressed with it.
    I am so glad a "progressive" has taken a regressive city to task. I wish we had one of our city council in OAK make the kind of sense Ms. Gilbert does. I've never ever heard a politician in OAK or SF say middle income homeowners bear the lion's share of tax. Hurrah.

    I do encourage everybody to pass this letter on as it is striking in that bursts the bubbles of the liberal, "progressives", including just about every politician in the Bay Area. It is about time.

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  8. It sounds like you're creating problems yourself by trying to solve this issue instead of looking at why their is a problem in the first place

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  10. I don't get it, what do you mean by the 3rd paragraph?

    1. my God, i thought you were going to chip in with some decisive insght at the end there, not leave it with ‘we leave it to you to decide’.