The arrogance of one-party government in California
Ever since high levels of immigration and taxation transformed California into a one-party state by driving out the middle class and importing an underclass, it has become a textbook example of a banana republic, in hi-tech guise. An editorial in the Washington Times last year highlights stunning chicanery – truly unbelievable arrogance on the part of the state’s political class:
The California state Senate voted 28-8 Wednesday to exempt itself from the pointless gun-control laws that apply to the rest of the populace. Legislators apparently think they alone are worthy to pack heat on the streets for personal protection, and the masses ought to wait until the police arrive.
California’s gun control laws are draconian, and getting a concealed carry permit depends on the whim of your local sheriff. If, like most Californians, you live in an urban county, it may be all but impossible, absent public death threats lodged against you.
But not for our legislators. Secure in the permanent majority, Democrats just feather their own nests and exempt themselves from the laws that constrain the rest of us.
The editorial notes how the solons have made it difficult to impossible to detect how much they actually pull from the public purse. Average “compensation” is $140,000, but this omits the lavish benefits and exemptions they get. There is a “car allowance” sufficient to pay the lease on luxury cars for every member of the state legislature. They also get a “per diem” payment that permits them to deduct part of their compensation from state and federal income taxes. (Incidentally, our state income taxes, like our state sales taxes and state gasoline taxes, are either the highest in the nation or nearly so.) But legislators don’t have to worry about the gasoline taxes; they get gasoline for free.
But don’t worry, the
chumps citizens are unlikely to catch on to the degree of screwing they are getting.
Attempts by a handful of reformers to require politicians to provide a full annual disclosure of the benefits received from the public treasury have been rebuffed. Currently, government officials must file a statement of economic interests revealing income from any source other than a local, state, or federal government agency. Gifts worth more than $50 also must be disclosed, but lawmakers rejected a bill that would have prohibited acceptance of concert and sporting event tickets, gift cards, spa treatments, golf outings, and other benefits from lobbyists trying to buy votes.
Bills of this nature never meet an honest fate in which roll-call votes put members on the record as favoring or opposing each idea. Instead, reform measures are held in committee to die quietly as legislative deadlines pass. As of last week, it’s effectively impossible for a bill to become law if it hasn’t already passed in at least one of the chambers.
This very maneuver was used to kill:
... [a] bill that would have eliminated the practice of allowing select public employees to avoid paying red-light-camera tickets and escape any consequence for using toll roads without paying. The current system grants free rides to politicians, court workers, police officers, city council members, social workers, meter maids and their spouses. The bill failed even after a compromise amendment deleted the requirement to pay red-light-camera tickets.
So a broad swath of what laughingly may be called “public servants” is exempt from any consequences for dangerous driving practices. The last time (years ago) I accidentally tripped a red light camera, it cost almost four hundred bucks, and I would be surprised if the tab were not already well above half a grand, what with the “court fees” added onto the actual fine for a traffic infraction.
This list doesn’t even begin to plumb the depth of corruption and arrogance. State bureaucrats earn far higher compensation than counterparts in the private sector performing similar jobs and enjoy decades of paid vacation after what is called “retirement,” with lavish benefits and inflation indexing. Getting fired for poor job performance is something they may read about in the private sector, but that’s as familiar as they get. As a result, the general attitude toward the public is one of arrogance and contempt.
And for our high taxes, we get the worst highways in the nation, falling apart and full of potholes.
State government in California serves itself, not the people. The state budget is over a hundred billion dollars annually and gets almost no scrutiny by the public or media.
Blessed with magnificent natural resources, scenery, and climate, California should be a shining example of what America can be. Instead, it is a cesspool. And don’t get me started on the hundred-billion-dollar “bullet train” that will operate at commuter train speeds in urban areas, that will take decades to be finished (if it ever is) and will have to charge ticket prices much higher than airlines charge for a journey that will require four to five hours at least.