In California, the mayor of a major city has decided that it's time to renegotiate union pensions, which are bankrupting the municipality; more specifically, he wants to raise the retirement age. The governor of the state wants to revamp the welfare system, forcing people to get back to work within two years rather than four. The state government has worked with the California Highway Patrol to implement furloughs amounting to a 5 percent pay cut. Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Unified School District has forced teachers unions to accept 10 furlough days, amounting to a 5 percent pay cut.
Here's the crazy thing: All of the governmental officials are Democrats.
Reality has smashed the Golden State across the face with an iron fist. In fact, all of the measures that Democrats are taking in California will surely fail -- they're half-measures. The state suffers from a $16 billion deficit and has over $500 billion in unfunded pension liabilities. Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's pension reform wouldn't even make a dent. Gov. Jerry Brown's welfare reform would save just $880 million -- and meanwhile, recent studies show that $69 million in welfare cash is spent in casinos, cruise ships and Hawaii every year. The new deal with the CHP won't touch the CHP pension problem, which amounts to more than $3 billion per year. The LAUSD's furloughing will save a few bucks but won't touch its $390 million deficit.
California, in short, is royally screwed. But this is what happens when a state Californicates itself.
For several decades, the state of California has ignored all calls to fiscal responsibility. Instead, its voters have elected big-spending liberal after big-spending liberal to the state legislature. Even now, Gov. Brown enjoys an approval rating of approximately 43 percent, and a huge majority of California voters support Brown's proposed massive tax hikes.
But the state's economy is upside-down. Businesses have been fleeing in droves. There's nobody left to pay the taxes anymore. And so California is left in a peculiar political situation: The folks who elect politicians aren't the folks who pay the taxes. And the folks who pay the taxes will soon be headed to Texas. What happens when a bankrupt state tries to hand out nonexistent money from absent taxpayers?
We've already seen what happens when major American cities such as Detroit collapse. The earners take off; the moochers stay and vote themselves benefits. With a smaller and smaller group of people paying for those benefits, the burden becomes too much to bear; soon, there's no money left at all. The city dies.