First, let me make this clear: I’m a native Californian, and I grew up thinking that California was pretty much the center of the universe.
As a very small child I knew that President Richard Nixon was born about 25 miles north and his “Western White House” was about 35 miles south of where I lived (doesn’t every kid experience the President vacationing near his home?). While in elementary school, my favorite tv shows – “Emergency,” “Adam 12” and “The Rockford Files” to name a few – all included panoramic glimpses of cityscapes and freeways that were familiar. I didn’t “dream” about this California – for better or worse, I lived it.
College, graduate school, and my media career have taken me around the state – Sacramento, San Diego, Fresno, Santa Barbara, Los Angeles – all very different places, and all California. It’s a really big place that I know really well, and it is a part of me.
So it is with great personal sadness that I make this observation: while most of America made a sharp (and rational) turn to the right in this year’s election, California moved even further to the left. As a result, California will worsen.
California currently suffers with its’ self-inflicted $6 billion shortfall in this fiscal year’s budget (a wound that is supposed to swell to $24.5 billion over the next 18 months). 2 weeks ago outgoing Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger called for a “special legislative session” so the state Senate and Assembly can “fix” the budget crisis, but then quickly announced his legislative priority for the special session: a law to “ban” plastic grocery bags.
Earlier this year as the state continued to swim in debt without any budget at all, California’s legislature attempted a legislative ban on plastic bags. A budget full of accounting gimmicks got passed, but the bag ban failed.
So with the legislature called back to “fix” the phony budget, Governor Schwarzenegger is obsessed with creating his legacy: “We're going to try over and over again” he said, as he argued for a plastic bag ban, “because we have seen in the past that when you don't give up, eventually you can be successful."
Never mind that Rome is burning. California will “be green.”
Arnold may get his historic plastic bag ban (condolences to those who may subsequently lose their jobs in the plastics industry), but California will not seriously address its fiscal failures. California politicians are instead making themselves feel good about their efforts to save the planet, while likely assuming that the federal government will take care of the state’s finances.
Austin Hill is an Author, Consultant, and Host of "Austin Hill's Big World of Small Business," a syndicated talk show about small business ownership and entrepreneurship. He is Co-Author of the new release "The Virtues Of Capitalism: A Moral Case For Free Markets." , Author of "White House Confidential: The Little Book Of Weird Presidential History," and a frequent guest host for Washington, DC's 105.9 WMAL Talk Radio.