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Don't Call Me Madam

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.

California is broke -- flat broke. Two of the reasons for the state's desperate financial crisis are seeking yet another chance to completely wreck the state's economy.

Jerry Brown, the aging boy-wonder of California politics, wants another chance to mess around with taxpayer money, much of which is seeking refuge in China, that new haven of fiscal freedom for all not currently present in that nation's concentration camps.

Then there's Barbara Boxer, who lectured a combat veteran and top general on the niceties of discourse between a chairwoman and witness by instructing him to cease calling her Ma'am because she had labored mightily to reach her exalted state as a U.S. Senator. Now she wants another shot at being one for another six years.

Her foray into supporting "Cap and Trade" has garnered derision from all who see through the "global warming" hoax, and her performance on the floor of the Senate was a miserable failure. As documented by Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., and reported by Wes Vernon in Wednesday on the Web (www.pvbr.com), her Cap and Trade bill "would have resulted in 1) higher gas prices at the pump, 2) the largest tax increase in history, 3) the biggest pork bill ever, 4) the loss of up to 4 million jobs by 2030, 5) a huge bureaucratic intrusion into your life, and 6) the biggest reorganization of the American economy since the 1930s."

And Madam Boxer wants the voters of California to allow her to continue for six more years her attempts to wreck this nation's economy by fighting a non-existent peril - "global warming" -- and compelling Americans to pay homage and blind obedience to the wisdom of the bloated federal government, which doesn't know the difference between hot and cold.

California has a stunning budget deficit of $19 billion, $6.2 billion of which is earmarked for retiree pension and benefit payments. That amount is due to nearly triple in size over the next 10 years as the state's swollen pension grows higher and higher. Frighteningly, as The Wall Street Journal reports, "California's unfunded pension liability is scored at more than $120 billion, with some estimates rising to $500 billion."

The Journal credits this mess to California's incredibly generous benefits, "low employee and employer contributions," and the use of "inflated investment-return assumptions used to hide pension costs."

In consequence, as investment returns shrink, California has to compensate for the deficits by cutting appropriations for higher education, parks and other services.

As the Journal notes, while Brown's proposals would prevent state employees from accumulating higher pensions by "racking up overtime and bonuses to inflate their final year's compensation," among other measures, much of this has already been arranged by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Writes the Journal, "It's unlikely Mr. Brown's reforms would save much more."

Brown was once dubbed "Governor Moonbeam" by the late Chicago columnist Mike Royko, who called the state "the world's largest outdoor mental asylum."

After claiming, "The gap between rich and poor also keeps increasing because of computers, because of the declining power of unions and union membership, because of technology that replaces people in unskilled and semiskilled jobs, because of workers in foreign countries merged into the employment base of American companies, and because of the use of part-time workers putting people at a disadvantage and lowering their benefits," Brown offered his solution.

"The focus ought to be on making low-income work pay more. And where there aren't those jobs, let the government step in like they did in WPA [Works Progress Administration], community service ... And all the rest of it."

In other words, leave it up to Big Brother.

They tried that in Russia and Germany. Look where it got them.

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