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How Progressives Can Save California…And the Nation

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Californa State Flag

Conor Friedersdorf has a great editorial over at the Atlantic on California’s political and economic situation. As a Democrat (mostly because I’m too lazy to change my registration to Independent) and as someone who PEW described in a study as a liberal, I agree with most of what he wrote about California. Yet, for all that I enjoy Freidersdorf’s editorials, I think he fails because of his libertarian bent and his understanding of history.

As a few examples of why I agree with Friedersdorf’s editorial, I submit these examples:

Regarding the citizen approved non-partisan redistricting committee, I was absolutely outraged by Democratic party attempts to con, manipulate and impede the independent redistricting committee. It was wrong, immoral and highly unethical. I gather from later news reports that it failed; at least I hope so. No seat should be safe for a party or a legislator through redistricting. All people, regardless of partisan or political views, need to be represented fairly.

Moreover, I voted for Prop 5 and thus against the 3-strikes law for the reasons Freidserdorf stated: its economically wasteful as well as unreasonably harsh. Even Superior Court Judges have stated that the 3-strikes law forces penalties, in terms of prison sentences, that are excessive considering the crimes. But California’s prison system was mostly sold off private prison corporations. Thus, private profit motives nearly preclude any sensible changes like rehab, community monitoring, and ankle bracelet monitors for drug and minor infractions. If California enacted the same kind of reform that Texas did to save money, our prison costs would drop dramatically while leaving plenty of room in our prison system for hardened criminals. I have a few thoughts on them as well: like required real, prison fiscally sustaining work, job training and education rather than inmates spending time weight lifting and body building. For example…and this is my bias…ditch the gyms and create sustainable food gardens.

As for the pension funds, I’d like to see state employees given salaries comparable to private industry for that specific job and then have the employees make defined contributions to CALPers. I’d recommend, too, that CALPers investigate/study pulling the funds out of Wall St. firms to create it’s own investment bank where it loaned money to businesses and bought state infrastructure bonds for a reasonable return, a la ND’s state bank.

If state employees no longer need taxpayer funds, as a result of employee only investments and a CALPers investment bank, then taxpayers would be off the hook for employee pension funds, which would make CALPers and state employees more responsible for their own retirement management.

I also believe state workers should not receive retirement benefits until they meet the Social Security retirement age. My brother, who worked really hard and rarely had a day off for the State as a Budget Analyst, retired at 50 with a really good retirement pension as well as a large payout for all the accumulative vacation time he never took. He’s not worked a day since he retired because he didn’t have to…and he’s living quite comfortably as are all retired state workers who retired long before Social Security retirement ages. That’s absurd.

California’s public employee retirement benefits should match the Social Security retirement age. Another point of my agreement with Friedersdorf is teacher tenure. I hate it.

I had a couple of those bad teachers who ended up being a wasting my time and taught me nothing. I’d scrape tenure altogether along with the entire Civil Service System. Both systems exist because of outdated and disproved social psychology thinking from many decades ago (the 30s or 40s?) in which it was believed that if employees didn’t have to worry about being fired, they would do a better job. We now that is wrong.

The fear of being fired provides the additional incentive to work harder and be more productive while complete protection encourages laziness.

California should lead the nation in determining best practices based on recent research, private industry models and what are the best incentives for employees. Research is needed and should be done but in the short term both tenure and Civil Service guarantees should be eliminated. No more working hard until tenure or civil service employment guarantees occur to then become lazy workers as my mother discovered amongst many of her coworkers after she went to work for the State. All workers should be held to private industry best practices standards. Period.

Where is disagree with Friedersdorf are those areas which he exhibits a seemingly youthful naiveté.

Unlike Friedersdorf, I unfortunately don’t have much faith in California Republicans either to deal with California’s real problems of fiscal solvency and rebuilding the state back to the vibrant, thriving state I remember it being when my family returned to CA in 1959.

Admittedly, the state’s proposition ability has made fiscal constraint and budgeting sense much harder, allowing emotional appeals on spending while leading citizens to believe there is no financial penalty to that spending. In the very same election year, I’ve seen propositions approved by citizens that both increased spending while at the same time demanding higher restraints on taxes.

Californians, like the rest of nation over the last 30 some years, came to believe that spending and taxes were disconnected; deficits didn’t matter and a magical belief in growth (i.e., dynamic scoring) would solve all fiscal problems.

Does any company determine its spending based upon what might happen in a year or three or five years? No, they take a hard look at their market and, if they’re smart, make a strategic decision on where to spend their money. They don’t make fiscal decisions based on magical market predictions, which is exactly what Republicans across the country, and most specifically in Congress, now demand. Dynamic scoring, which the GOP pushes, is a lie based on an unproven economic myth of unknown growth. Yes, budgeting for an entire year is hard to do when no one knows what the future will bring which is why the most accurate numbers and predictions must be available.

That is why the California proposition system must to be reformed to bring some reality to it. Overall, the idea that you can get something for nothing, based on magical growth numbers, has caused much of the state’s fiscal problems. And very liberal Democrats have added to this fantasy along with their Republican fellows who said tax cuts were all that was needed to fix the state’s fiscal woes. Hidden accounts or lock boxed accounts no longer make any fiscal sense. Our Legislature must be free, regardless of voter propositions, to make economically fiscal sense of all money flowing into the state and end those that no longer are fiscally appropriate or feasible or necessary.

Right now, I’m praying the State’s Democratic majority will become more fiscally responsible and demand real, true accounting and be willing to say to the citizens that if voters want more spending, it’s going to mean higher taxes. But I don’t have much hope.

As a result of term limits, few if any legislators understand the budget or the budget process which means that few if any candidates understand the budget and all the hidden accounts. As has been noted in numerous news accounts, legislators now rely upon bureaucrats and lobbyists to teach them about the budget and often to write budget legislation. Our California legislators no longer have the knowledge they need to perform their job, and just about the time they begin to understand it, they’re termed limited out for another neophyte. Nevertheless, California citizens seem to getting that message…slowly.

As studies have begun to show, Californians are beginning to realize that our enormous number of propositions and gerrymandered districts caused legislative problems that have accumulated over the last 30 some years which led our state’s fiscal problems.

But California will never be able to resolve its fiscal problems until the state – and by extension the entire country – ends its reliance on special interest election funding, whether that funding comes from teacher and prison guard unions or from corporations or from other groups whose ideology has been totally debunked by mainstream economics. Citizens United and the whole notion of SuperPacs and lobbying dollars for all special interest groups must be overturned and made illegal.

TR described in his autobiography how a system of campaign financing, which closely resembles that which now exists, corrupted the political system during his early political career and before. He described it quite eloquently in his autobiography and showed examples of how it corrupted the public good. Right now, we are right back to where TR looked onto the political system and saw massive corruption on both sides of the political aisle. Nothing can be accomplished to reform our political process nationally or within California until well-funded special interests are barred from elections and lobbying.

Perhaps Freidersdorf fails to understand the special interest money that historically has led to the state’s fiscal dysfunction, but I’m old enough to have learned the history of it…and it ain’t pretty regardless of whichever side of the aisle you choose.


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When I read stories or emails like this one, I remember the first time, as an adolescent, I took my mother out to the woods behind our house in New Hampshire. I clearly remember the confusion in her eyes as I talked about how much I loved the woods, how beautiful they were, and how much I enjoyed listening to the animals that inhabited the woods. Her eyes glazed over while I talked about my deep joy of all the forest held since time immemorial as though nothing I said held any significance for her.

I suspect many people today feel much as my mother did those many years ago. Maybe even the owners and stockholders of the company to which this email from the Sierra Club refers.

healthy forests

Almost two weeks ago, my colleague Sarah Matsumoto and I wrote a letter to one of the largest landowners in America, Red Emmerson.

As two workaday environmentalists, united in our devotion to forests and the service to the planet they provide, we made a simple request.

We would like Mr. Emmerson to be clear about his company’s clear cutting. We would like him to let consumers who visit his company’s website—and there are people who do such things before they buy wood to build a new house or remodel a kitchen—get a clear picture of his company’s clear cutting practices.

Emmerson, a timber titan whose own story suggests the protagonist is not your average Joe, got his start in California logging mills as a teenager in the late 1940s. He joined forces with his father, a mill builder, and grew Sierra Pacific Industries (SPI) into one of the largest and most powerful lumber companies in America.

As the company’s name suggests, a big chunk of the family owned business’s holdings are in the Sierra Nevada. Unfortunately, the awe-inspiring part of the story stops there.

Here’s why: Much of the company’s nearly two million acres are destined to be clear cut. That is, they have already been or will be totally wiped clean of trees, shrubs and other living plants, then doused with pesticides before replanting with seedlings that will require decades to mature.

If you fly over parts of the Sierra Nevada and Cascade ranges today—or watch a Google Maps-assisted flyover produced by the Sierra Club—you can see what clear cutting means. It creates a checkerboard of bald spots across the forested mountains. At ground level, it dramatically changes habitat, microclimates and ecosystem services. Clear cutting eliminates breeding and living space for most animals, makes cool places hotter, and reduces the essential water-storing services of the bare land left behind.

When author Cheryl Strayed stumbled across a clear cut during her hike along the Pacific Crest Trail (recounted in Wild, one of my favorite books of 2012), it unsettled her. “I felt sad and angry about it, but in a way that included the complicated truce of my own complicity,” she writes. “I used tables and chairs and toilet paper, too, after all.”

So do we consumers of wood products have to accept clear cutting as a necessary evil? No, not at all.

There are better ways to do forestry. Most logging companies in California are moving away from clear cutting, and some do almost no clear cutting. They employ more selective ways to harvest timber. These ways preserve more trees and do less damage to the habitat and the forest’s ability to recover quickly and keep providing ecosystem services.

SPI uses a range of harvest methods, but harvest plans filed with the state suggest it is leading the pack among those who continue to rely heavily on the outdated practice of clear cutting. How much clear cutting does the company do? That’s the question we think SPI should clearly answer for consumers.

That’s why Sarah and I wrote the letter. On the SPI website, the company implies that it practices sustainable forestry. There’s nothing sustainable about clear cutting—it doesn’t sustain forests and it doesn’t sustain jobs.

Clear cutting is to forestry what clubbing baby seals is to the fur trade: an ugly, archaic practice so unnecessary that it is almost hard to believe it continues.

So SPI needs to be clear about clear cutting. We want it to disclose on its home page the number of acres the company clear cuts. Let consumers consider whether Mr. Emmerson’s SPI is really practicing sustainable forestry. Then consumers can vote with their pocketbooks.

Mea Culpa

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Dear Readers,

For the last couple of weeks, I’ve not posted anything to my blog. Not even about those little known stories the mainstream media tends to ignore…and I love. It’s not that those stories don’t exist. Heck, plenty of them exist everywhere; just look at any issue of Wired Magazine’s Wired Science blog. I’ve just been occupied elsewhere.

I admit to having “liked” Bruce Bartlett’s facebook page which supplies me with endless conversations (and articles) on economics and politics as well as the absurd. Of course, I still read the news every morning in the Washington Post (especially Wonkblog) as well as The Atlantic, The New Republic, The American Conservative, Bloomberg, and a few others like the Financial Times and the Economist.

But over the course of the last year I’ve become more involved in volunteering my expertise to community non-profit groups. My little, rural town in the Sierra Nevada foothills can’t afford paid services for the help it needs. We’re still suffering from the severe recession.

Wages are below median average for California, and industry, as we generally think of it, is practically unknown here. For years, Colfax, where I live, was ruled by a “no expansion” crowd that hamstrung local businesses and the community at large. Finally, that hold is breaking as a result of the Great Recession. Businesses, hard hit by lack of customer revenues, are finally speaking up and demanding revenue growth in order to stay in business and to fill the empty storefronts. Residents are seeing the need to build sustainable businesses that can help support necessary, and even desired, community services.

I’ve spent most of my adult years in large towns where governmental actions made a huge difference in both the local economy and in people’s lives. When governments partner with the business community, local service non-profits, and residents great accomplishments occur that better the lives of everyone in the community. The current Tea Party inspired, Ayn Rand anti-government fad fails to acknowledge the many benefits government provides communities via increased demand revenues and stabilizing taxes.

For me, when my local community chose to develop an Art Walk which promoted both local artists and main street businesses, expand the reach and profitability of our annual July 3rd Independence Day Celebration (yeah, I know it’s a day ahead of the real thing), and develop a community-wide business plan to promote our city, I volunteered. Unlike the Ayn Randers out there, there’s more to a good life than just me…and the financial perks I personally am getting. I saw these non-profit activities as a chance to rebuild and renew our business community.

Certainly, Social Security and Medicare made it economically possible for me to spend my time on efforts to help my community develop and become more profitable. Without those earned insurance benefits, as they currently exist, I’d be bankrupt…and be left wondering what to do to survive. It’s not that I didn’t save in retirement accounts throughout my 40-some working years. I had. I invested the maximum amount the federal government allows each working year. Regardless, between 2001 and 2009, following the great crash, I lost nearly 2/3s of my retirement savings. Over that decade, I continually bought more shares via my retirement accounts, but the values (profits) decreased. The end result became my need for these two primary insurance benefits into which I paid for over 40 years.

Nevertheless, those insurance benefits now afford me the ability to spend many hours each week voluntarily working for my cash-strapped community, rather than solely worrying about how I’m going to pay the bills or how to survive another month. I’m not forced to go begging for state or federal assistance. Or made to feel like I’m the lowest of the low for needing help. I still have my dignity and the knowledge that I’m taking financial care of myself.

But I’m no hero, by any means. Those earned insurance programs now have just provided me the means to the end of helping my community at large.

Strikingly, my community volunteering increased my skills far beyond what I learned during my career…and I really enjoy all I’m learning in the process of doing. Sure as heck beats vegetating and waiting to die!

But I guess, for me anyway, I feel valuable again. I feel like I really can make a contribution to my community and my fellow citizens…and that makes me feel important and good about myself.

I understand my senior’s path isn’t the same for everyone. But it’s working for me and adding to the renewal efforts of my community while not increasing costs. Most of all, though, I’m getting far more personal satisfaction out my volunteer activities than I’m putting in terms of time and my increased skills.

Guns Aren’t A Problem?

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On Wednesday, a gun battle broke out broke out between burglars and police that led to a home fire. The home existed in a fairly heavily wooded area so flames jumped to nearby trees and spread because of the extremely hot, dry yet normal summer conditions. Numerous homes are threatened, not just in the immediate area but well up the canyon to hundreds of other homes. My own daughter’s home, ten or more miles up the canyon, is threatened by the rapidly moving fire. It appears only a wind shift can save the many canyon homes.

Gun battle leads to fire that sweeps up canyon threatening hundreds of homes

Normally, I can see the Sierra Mountains from my front porch. Today, the smoke is so thick I can barely see the other side of the highway just a quarter mile away. Forget the mountains! The smoke smell is so thick it burns, and the sky is gray with rapidly spreading smoke. Breathing is not just uncomfortable, it makes me want to hold a cold, wet clothe to to my nose. I have a terrible headache and my sinuses hurt; yet, I’m miles from the flames.

God willing our financially depleted area fire departments can get ahead of the flames. Otherwise lots – hundreds – of families will lose their homes, regardless of the highly stringent fire restrictions meant to save homes and families from fires.

None of this would have occurred had it not been for the easy access to guns by people who should have had no access to them at all.

In Opposition: Don’t Count California Moderates Out Yet

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Libertarian Steve Greenhut of the GOP aligned Franklin Center for Government and Public IntegrityLibertarian Steve Greenhut, of the 501(c)3, GOP aligned Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity, wrote a highly negative critique in Bloomberg News of the two 2010 voter approved California propositions that seek to make voters voices more dominate in elections as well as clean up the election process.

The first proposition removes redistricting from the parties by requiring a non-partisan citizen to redraw district lines. Californians hoped that by having non-partisan citizens draw district lines the voices of the most extreme elements of both parties would be muted, creating an atmosphere in which more moderate legislators would be elected. By eliminating the most extreme candidates through the voting process, the desire of Californians was to create a legislature that was more willing to seek solutions through negotiations which would make life better for all Californians.

The second proposition, proposed by former Gov. Schwarzenegger, which Californians approved via the ballot box, was that the top two vote winning primary candidates, regardless of party, would move forward to the general election. California primaries were held on June 5 so the outcome of this new voting system remains an unknown.

However, from Mr. Greenhut’s op-ed, it is apparent he does not approve of the outcome of these two newly approved initiatives, as the results to date, have not favored GOP candidates. Worse, he derides all moderates, regardless of party or no party, as having no new or innovative ideas for solving the state’s challenges.

But his analysis is far too simplistic and fails to take into account the economic and demographic realities of California, such as the high cost of living in California.

    – Even during this real estate slump, a 1000 square ft home in a rural county still sells for $135K minimum and up to close to a $1M in the San Francisco Bay Area.
    – Gas prices are the highest in the nation, outside of Hawaii.
    – Water costs that equal or exceed food costs.
    – Huge infrastructure costs for everything from highways to levies to water systems (feeding So. Cal with water from the mountains).

The list could go on, but face it, a median national income of $50K/yr puts a family of four in near poverty ranking in California because of living costs. As a result, California companies are forced to pay higher wages for very qualified people. Most of the people leaving the state are not leaving because of high taxes; they’re leaving because of the high cost of living. And this has been the case since the mid to late ’70s. Plus, global companies cannot easily compete when their fixed costs are so high, mainly as a result of the high land costs. Supply and demand.

Moreover, the state houses thousands of federal prisoners, which as Schwarzenegger complained, the federal government has not paid the state for their upkeep and detention. Californians have had to foot that bill. I’m guessing that CA has the highest prison population in the country. So why are we footing the bill for the federal government…and why are we paying so much to private prison companies? Poor negotiation skills? Too much monetary influence from that industry on state lawmakers, thereby creating a conflict of interest?

Next, California has a large population, particularly in So. Cal, of low education, unskilled workers, many of whom migrated from other states particularly in the South to California who require greater state services. That population puts an extraordinary strain on state budgets and services.

And let’s not forget the proposition process that allows voters to mandate state spending without knowing the budget implications. For example, because of one proposition, the state is constitutionally mandated to provide a set amount to schools, regardless of how much revenue the state takes in. As a result, school spending is the largest item in the budget. At the same time, voters refused to cough up the additional revenues to pay for their mandated school spending.

As a moderate, I also disagree with your proposition that moderates have no ideas. On the contrary, it is the hard-line Republicans and Democrats that have no new or innovative ideas. The two voter approved initiatives (propositions) were people inspired decisions to break the logjam in Sacramento and to eliminate the hardliners. As the 9th largest economy in the world, Californians seek solutions for all Californians, not just a few.

We love our state and don’t want to sell it off to the highest bidder or see our many natural wonders disappear or have even higher rates of health problems, like asthma amongst our children. Because of pollution in the Central Valley, we can’t even visit the world’s oldest trees! And the Redwoods in the Santa Cruz Mountains are dying off faster than they can logged.

But we do need new, innovative solutions.

I would not approve of eliminating bargaining rights for any workers because I believe it’s a lawful (going back to the Magna Carta) and Constitutional right to gather together and negotiate (redress) grievances. However, I would eliminate civil service guarantees. The notion of a guaranteed job for life was an idea from long ago meant to induce workers to perform better because they never had to worry about being laid off. However, human nature being what it is, it’s had the opposite effect. In other words, take a lesson from the private sector: workers either maintain high performance or get fired.

I would also eliminate tenure for the same reason. Public sector workers, too, should be required to work until they are 65 (or later) to receive their state pensions. No more retiring at 50 or 55 on pensions equal to their last year’s salary for the rest of their lives. In other words, retire early if you like but you’ll not receive a pension until you’re at least 62. Moreover, a la Social Security, the monthly amount received will be reduced for each years of early retirement. And like Social Security, the amount received would be based on the average income over the previous five years. Additionally, I’d eliminate the saving of vacation days, year over year. When my brother retired as a state Budget Analyst, he had about two years worth of income due him as a result of deferred, never taken vacation days. In the private sector, that scenario would never be allowed where “use it or lose” it dominates.

The State governments also needs to be reorganized. Since we’re in a much more competitive world, local, state and federal governments need to think more competitively. Rules and regulations need to consistent across departments. Business application processes need to be streamlined and more efficient – after all, we are living in the Internet age. One application should serve for every department. Heck, I’d even go so far as to advocate a time limit on governmental approval – for a defined number of years (with good back-end analysis on a yearly basis) – which the government must meet or the business can proceed without all the necessary approvals, provided of course that businesses met all the disclosure and regulatory requirements within a stated amount of time. I don’t like businesses using loopholes to avoid requirements.

Lastly, at least for today, I’d advocate for a complete overhaul of the poverty programs. Originally, these programs were set up to provide temporary assistance to those who, through no fault of their own, found themselves in dire financial need. But once in the program, it’s bloody hard to get out because of the unusually onerous, restrictive rules…such as not owning a car that is worth more than an unsafe, unreliable junker. Let’s get real on the requirements!

Moreover, the purpose of these safety net programs is to get people back into the workforce. Consequently, the recipients of this assistance may need skills training or education. Instead of saying five years – on your own – and you’re out, say you have five years to complete your college education (with quarterly grade reports going to your case worker to insure continued eligibility) with a 2.5 GPA at the very least or trade school training.

Every recipient of state aid should be required to meet with a social worker to determine how to get them out of the system and into a sustainable life as quickly as possible. Qualified for a college education, go for it. Prefer trade school, go for it. Just need short-term help between jobs, okay but limited based on unemployment time averages.

Plus, assist these potential workers needs with childcare to help them over the hump while recreating their lives…and by all means, hold them accountable. Consistent attendance, average or better test and class scores, and graduation required. In other words, you don’t maintain your grades or finish you classes or training, you’re out on your proverbial ear and your children will be put up for adoption to provide them with the lives they deserve and should have.

As for poverty programs like SCHIP and food stamps, well, the only way to resolve those problems are for workers to receive higher wages. In CA, that’s difficult because of the high cost of living bumps up against a minimum wage that is hardly better (in terms of inflation/living costs) than 1964. Yet, to increase minimum wages much more would (as is really needed considering the rise in the cost of living) means many truly small businesses (mom and pop’s) will not be able to return a profit on their investment. So, let market forces decide true wages – and the market values of employees – but reduce the number of low wage workers through education and skills training of those who so heavily rely on social services.

The only way to reduce these social service needs is higher employment rates with higher wages and greater educational/skill levels of the workers. No one wants to see children hungry, living on the streets, sick, or clothed in rags. As a society, we should morally demand more of ourselves and our neighbors than a pre-20th Century scenario. To use old Dane-Saxon ideology, the “commonweal” (quite literally, the health and welfare of the entire community) matters for a cohesive society, void of revolts. But by reforming our social service programs, as noted above, we can reduce the number of workers who are forced to accept low wages and live in poverty that requires greater social contributions towards their sustainability.

These are the ideas of a moderate. Can the GOP, for which Mr. Greenhut appears to advocate, match these for new ideas? Changing the State’s electoral system may not have worked yet, but it is far too early to call it a failure.

Moderates, like myself but much younger, may yet have a chance to break through the partisan clutter of the last 30 years to create a more sustainable, health economy in California. Libertarian partisans like Mr. Greenhut should not count them – or California – out yet.

The Last Great American Builder

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Edmund G. "Pat" Brown - California State of Mind, a biography of the Last Great Political American BuilderMost people don’t remember Edmund G. “Pat” Brown, let alone that he was Governor of California during its rise to prominence nationally and internationally. Pat Brown not only believed in California, he had a love affair with the state.

I was a young kid when my family moved back to California – I was born in Oakland a year after WWII ended – when my father decided to retire from the Air Force. So, there’s a lot I don’t remember or know about California’s history under the governorship of Pat Brown. But what I do know is that California was a great state that drew businesses and massive numbers of residents from all over the country to our shores, our mountains and valleys, our farmlands, and innovative business and educational centers. It was the state where everyone across the country wanted to send their kids to college, or to move to, or to create a new business. And Pat Brown, who led this California revolution, was a Democrat. He left the state with a balanced budget and a vital, growing economy. Imagine that!

It’s not the 1950s or 1960s anymore. Global competition, off shoring of jobs, and off shoring of profits as well as the post-Reagan GOP dogma against all taxes as well as numerous other problems having to do with increased population from other low income, low education states as well as illegal immigrants, enormously decreased federal funds for federal prisoner populations and other federally mandated programs, hugely reduced tax revenues as a result of Prop. 13, and a failure of the Legislature and the Proposition system to revise the state’s antiquated and loop hole ridden tax code to meet modern demands reflects the same failures of government at the federal level.

But when you look back at what Governor Pat Brown achieved, it’s not all that impossible to imagine what California – and the U.S. – could achieve today if the political, and voting public, will still existed.

But, then, the ethos of the American public, along with California’s, during Pat Brown’s era was not “me first and only” as it is now, but rather “all of us together” to make the country, our states, and our people highly competitive, healthy and growing with an eye towards the future, and a belief not in a political slogan of American Exceptionalism but in a deep seated belief that Americans can and will achieve anything.

The linked political biography and following trailer describe not just California, but an America we all once believed in:

California State of Mind, The Legacy of Pat Brown

Written by Valerie Curl

March 21, 2012 at 12:43 PM

CA 4th District Rep Tom McClintoch Takes Credit for Stimulus Funds

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Tom McClintock, R - CA 4th DistrictLast year when the bill to provide Stimulus funds to halt the economic bleeding caused by the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, Congressional Rep. Tom McClintock (R – 4th District CA) voted no along with every other Republican in the House.

Today, ThinkProgress reports on how Tom McClintock took credit for using Stimulus funds for projects in the district that is providing jobs – even though he voted against the funds that created those jobs.

Rep. Tom McClintock (R-CA) has been a vocal critic of President Obama’s Recovery Act, which was enacted in early 2009 despite McClintock’s “no” vote. The northern California congressman even compared the program to the economic policies of the Soviet Union. “We know of many cases where massive government spending and borrowing has destroyed economies and brought down great nations – one need look no further than the old Soviet Union,” McClintock said.

However, McClintock was more than happy to celebrate a new stimulus-funded drug rehabilitation clinic in Grass Valley recently. Appearing with local officials, McClintock praised the construction of the Community Recovery Resources’ new Center for Hope, which is financed with a 40-year low interest $9,317,000 loan enabled by the stimulus program. “This is your victory,” McClintock told the crowd, shortly after appearing with a ceremonial shovel.

As reporter Brian Hamilton noted, the project is expected to bring 400 construction jobs to the area.

This isn’t the first time McClintock has been caught as a stimulus hypocrite. Last year, California Watch reported that McClintock was among the many anti-stimulus members of Congress to quietly lobby the Obama administration for more funds. McClintock wrote at least five letters asking for money for transportation grants.

Written by Valerie Curl

July 21, 2011 at 12:26 PM

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