“No, I believe time wounds all heals.”
The (very) tentative budget agreement between the California State Legislature and the Governor is a study in odd and tragic political realities infecting the Golden State. You can easily find diatribes on the structural problems at hand, ones that make it difficult for a majority to pass a budget or make it easy for a rich minority to sponsor “voter” propositions. Others might be more concerned with the political strategy of the whole thing. Republicans in this State are largely misfits when compared to the voters who identify as members of their party, but mainstream Democrats in the State don’t know how to play their hand very well either, often falling before the minority’s charge.
All these and more are tragic, but they aren’t my concern today.
California is ground zero once again in its history as it provides terrain for the political debate of the early century: should government exist? The Republican minority in this State are not just making an argument for a “lean” and “efficient” government; they want it starved and killed. Their budget and their posturing suggests they are comfortable with the State locking people up for outrageously-long sentences, but not providing them an education; protecting them from starvation or disease; providing for their safety in daily life on the roads, on the bridges, in the oceans, and near the rivers; taking care of them when they can not take care of themselves; and protecting them from abusive homes.
They are saying it is okay for a child to go hungry in this, the world’s 8th largest economy. They are saying it is okay for the number of elderly living in poverty to rise. They are saying that if you are born with a disease or a physical handicap of some sort then it is up to you, and you alone, to survive. They are suggesting that if you are a child living in an abusive home that your rights do not matter, and that the State will not step in to protect them for you.
This minority of zealots is a group of nihilists, and nothing more. While they might defend every one of the actions I reference above, and complicate my casual accusation of their goals and interests, the only way they can do so is to support some simple-minded idealization of a world that does not exist and say that these things will be provided for in that Disney-esque schema.
This is a modern world, with modern problems. The complex societies we require to participate in the global capitalist economy foster (and at times create) conditions that people on their own can not solve alone. Economically, it is better and cheaper for us to address these situations in the immediate than in the long term. Indeed, economically, addressing some of these in the immediate term IS economic investment. The nearly free education provided ALL baby boomers (especially middle-class ones) in this State led directly to the economic success we have had for so long.
But they are nihilists. They pursue some ideologically fringe idea even when all the evidence in the world says it does not compute with their stated reasons for so doing. They are in the business of killing government for the sake of killing government no matter who it will hurt in the process.
This is a war. And the “other side” is not about protecting flawed government systems and funds for special interests, it is about protecting our very right to be served by any government at all. It is about protecting the rights of children and the poor. It is about protecting the rights of us all to have a government that is strong enough and well-funded enough to act on our behalf.