Monday, June 22, 2009

The sun goes down on the California dream

It was fun, fun, fun 'til their bankers took their T-bird away.

And staying with this ornithological theme...

When the swallows returned to Capistrano in March, there were ominous signs that vultures would also be winging in soon. Now, with the terminal stage of the California death watch officially beginning next week, even the guvernator's Samson-like strength is looking to be inadequate as the California edifice crumbles. Yes friends, the sunshine state will run out of cash by the end of July, and its own constitution obligates it to balance its budget (in the red by $24 billion) by July 1.

To do so would change things in almost unthinkable ways --- major cuts to social services and programs that directly impact millions of people, early release from prison of non-violent offenders, layoff of 60,000 state employees, closing of state parks and beaches, cutting $750 million from budgets of the University of California and California State University. It goes on.

All of this is like watching an inevitable, slow motion collision of the "nothing's too good for us" crowd and the "starve government through tax cuts" mob.

We needn't be too smug about this. It's an overdue warning for all of us that bills come due. For decades, many have ignored Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.'s tenet that "Taxes are the price we pay for civilization," and Milton Friedman's caution that "There is no free lunch."

Standard operating procedure for our politicians has been to posture as tax-cutters while bribing us with borrowed money. The result, a Canadian national debt of $472 billion (your share: $14,000.00).

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