Saturday, January 09, 2010

As Goes California

The saying is, “As goes California, so goes the nation.” You’d better hope not. But hoping won’t change the truth in it. As I tell my children, old sayings got to be old because they’re mostly true.

Governor warns of deep fiscal crisis as he unveils California budget plan

There’s nothing but bad news in this budget. If if the saying is true, this type of budget is heading to a State near you.

”Under the governor's plan, state funding formulas would be tweaked in a way to reduce payments to schools by $2.4 billion. The cuts come after school spending has already been rolled back considerably and many districts have been forced to impose layoffs and hiring freezes. “

I think I’ve said this before but laying off teachers is like a farmer eating his seed corn. You’re killing off your future in hopes that you’ll survive to have a future. It’s an act of desperation. Or at least it should be. America has no future without an educated workforce. If we can’t educate our population, we’ll need to start making plows and breeding mules because our children will be peasants. Seriously, we can’t fail to educate our children while China and India are cranking out PhDs.

”"California is not Washington. We don't have the luxury of printing money or running trillion-dollar deficits," Schwarzenegger said at a news conference this morning. "I refuse to raise taxes because there are so many areas where California can be smarter, more efficient and save precious taxpayer dollars." “

Read his lips, No New Taxes. And that’s the gist of it. We’ve made it politically impossible to raise taxes in America. Let me present the stark contrast so maybe it will get your attention.

We’d rather have a country where you can make $3.7 billion dollars a year and pay 15% taxes than a place where we educate our kids, help the poor and heal the sick ? Is that what we want ? I bet it isn’t. I hope and pray it isn’t.

But that’s what we have. And the folks that have sold us on it get richer while the rest of us get poorer. Up until the early ‘60s the richest could be taxed up to the 90% range. Not that they ever paid that much. They could afford the lawyers and accountants to work around it. The rate was still around 70% until Reagan. Rich people liked Reagan. A lot.

It’s not going to happen but let’s say we tax the $3.7 billion-a-year guy at 90%. That makes the math real simple. He takes home $370 million dollars for one year. If you made $1 million dollars a year it would take you 370 years to make that much -- assuming you paid no taxes.

In the context of laying off teachers and cheating our children out of a decent education I find that just slightly obscene. Don’t you ? Now, 90% of $3.7 billion is $3.33 billion. How many teachers can you hire for $3.33 billion ? If we paid them $100,000 a year (like we ought to), we could hire 1,110 teachers and pay them for 30 years. That would be from the taxes of just one guy that is still taking home $370,000,000 a year.

I can just hear the cries about “taking” money by taxation. Who did Wall Street “take” the money from ? Trust me, they didn’t “earn” the $700 billion in TARP money. (Let me hold $700 billion for a few months. I’ll pay it back. Swear.) If that argument doesn’t work they’ll try the “class warfare” one. Sure there’s class warfare. They have been winning it for decades. How do you think we got into this mess in the first place ?

They’ve got billions to convince you that taxes are bad for you. When, in reality, it’s just bad for them.

Don Brown
January 9, 2010


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