Taxes must be raised.
Either that, or teachers and cops will be laid-off, and the people of California will suffer.
So says Governor Jerry Brown, as he seeks to convince Californians that they should vote themselves higher taxes. The Golden State’s circumstances are dire, yet Jerry Brown is facing the crisis with an approach that’s nearly forty years old. He was saying this same thing – leveling these same threats - back in 1978.
We’ll go back to the 70’s in a moment, but first let’s put California in its current context. Despite how anybody feels about our 31st state, California should be regarded as an economic epicenter and a spectacular place in the world. It is, after all, home to the highest mountain in the contiguous forty-eight states (Mount Whitney), the lowest valley (Death Valley), “Surf City, U.S.A.”(Huntington Beach), Apple Computers, Mattel Toys, The World Champion San Francisco Giants, eBay, Legoland, Cisco Systems, the most fertile farmland in the world (the San Joaquin Valley), Twitter, Hollywood, three U.S. Presidents (Richard Nixon by birth, and Herbert Hoover and Ronald Reagan by “adoption”), Mitsubishi Motors of North America, and – for better or worse – Facebook.
This is to say that California can be and should be a place of robust economic opportunity across multiple sectors. Yet tax-and-spend-and-regulate politicians like Brown have had a stranglehold on the state for the past twenty years or so. And while capital has been leaving, productivity has been slumping, and tax revenues have been declining, Governor Brown and company have continued their same failed policies.
Brown was sworn in to his third term as Governor in January of 2011. At his first State of the State address, he announced that his plan to solve California’s dreadful fiscal problems would involve both cuts in government spending, and – if California voters approved – tax increases.
This seemed very reasonable. Very practical. Very “bi-partisan,” if you will. And indeed Governor Brown brought about some modest cuts in government spending: he eliminated taxpayer funded mobile telephones and vehicles for some government workers (most of us in the private sector don’t get “free” mobile telephones and cars from our employer anyway, but this had apparently become standard operating procedure for privileged government employees in California).
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.