Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Time To Vote No Again

Like Oakland, California continues to stumble toward some kind of reckoning with profligate governmental policies.

By voting no today, or simply failing to vote at all, voters can help bring a dose of reality to our "leaders."

Those who do plan to vote today should take a look at a couple articles published yesterday in the Wall Street Journal. Here is a link to the first article. It does a good job of explaining the basic facts underlying the current situation.

Even more importantly, voters should read this article, appropriately entitled "Soak The Rich, Lose The Rich."

Of interest are quotes like this one: "California in 2007 had the highest-paid classroom teachers in the nation, and yet the Golden State had the second-lowest test scores."

No one likes to talk about it, but the truth is that extra spending on education has virtually no impact on student achievement. The factors that actually matter include things like parental involvement and whether the parents went to college or not.

Liberals like to say that they support higher government spending and taxation because they want to give the poor and downtrodden an equal shot at success. In and of itself, this is not too problematic of a goal.

The problem is that, in California, government policies have not pursued these ends. Rather, the Democrats run the government exclusively for the benefit of the public-employee unions. That's why, from firefighters and police to teachers, our public employees receive far more in pay and benefits than the average nationwide.

Even worse, the state's constant pursuit of high-income taxpayers has finally begun to push us irredeemably into the red. Consider this: Rush Limbaugh famously announced that he would no longer work in New York state because of the state's planned income tax increase. And, just yesterday the owner of the Buffalo Sabres made a similar announcement.

In the latter case, the lost revenue to New York will total $13,000 a day, or nearly $5 million a year. How many high-income exits like this does it take for a state to see a significant deterioration of revenue?

And, more importantly, consider the fact that New York is only planning to raise its income tax rate to about 9 percent. California's tax currently stands at nearly 10.5 percent! And, public employee unions continue to agitate that taxes aren't high enough.

Put another way, how many people making $100 million a year, and thus paying $10 million in state taxes, need to move to Nevada or Washington state, where the tax rate is zero, before it puts a big hurt in California's ability to pay the bills.

The truth is this is already happening, big time. And no amount of Leftism is going to change that. That is why the legislative compromise earlier this year focused mostly on sales taxes. They know that income taxes are pushing people to leave. So, they're doing what they always do -- soak the poor and middle class once there are no more rich to hit up.

California needs to lower its spending and lower its taxes. And until it starts down that path, I see no reason for voters to go along with any proposals. If it requires a bankruptcy to get out from under whatever ridiculous pension agreements we've made with the public employees, then I'm fine with that.

The reckoning is coming, and voting no on these propositions brings it still closer. And that is good for all of us who don't want to see sales taxes at 15 percent.


  1. When I voted today... I was the only voter at the poll. I got into a conversation with the poll workers about the low turn-out [a good thing usually]. Then I got a little political and suggested that we taxpayers should be reimbursed by the legislators for the cost of this stupid election... why should we do their job? They do incompetant work and then say "The people voted... don't blame us." The poll workers all laughed. I left before I got into my diatribe about how, before long, the only people left in California will be government workers. They'll all be paid in scrip because there won't be any money left.

  2. Good points all. I agree that you do have to adjust somewhat for cost of living, but I think we've gone way beyond that.

    As far as Head Royce goes, the reason they upgrade their capital plant is because they have to compete to get the best students. Same thing goes for any good private university.

    Public schools do not have to compete. Put another way, they do not *get* to compete. If they did, they too could select the students with the best parents and do very well.

    The point is, the money only matters in a competitive situation. So, I believe my statement still makes sense. Extra spending on schools does virtually nothing to improve student achievement.

  3. Increasing funding for a failed school system such as Oakland Unified is analogous to taking an 18 year old cat to the vet for a checkup. They'll tell you he needs teeth cleaning and there are some suspicious lumps on his back that should be biopsied. In order to put him under anesthesia he'll need complete blood work first. Figure $2,500 plus boarding... ca. $3,000 for the package. "Will he be OK a year from now?" you ask. "He'll be dead" they say. "Why should I pay $3,000 for that?" "Because we must do what we must do. You can't leave your cat to die without first spending a lot of money to fail at saving his life." There are many examples of the lack of corelation between per pupil spending and poor academic performance... New York City and the District of Columbia being some. On the flip side are high performing schools that function on low budgets... Oakland's Catholic diocese being a convenient example. The problem with government run schools boils down to one word: politics.

  4. Well, politics and the kids. You can't make a ho a housewife.