Friday, August 07, 2009


Solutions to California’s budget woes frequently echo the type of wishful thinking displayed by President Obama last month when he responded to a question about what Americans would have to give up for government-managed health care.

The President observed that Americans would have to “give up paying for things that don’t make them healthier”—then provided a simplistic example that assumed his audience was largely composed of Sesame Street viewers.

“If there's a blue pill and a red pill and the blue pill is half the price of the red pill and works just as well, why not pay half price for the thing that's going to make you well?”

Adults listening to this response might have asked why, if matters are really that simple, a thousand pages of unscrutinized laws need to be rushed through Congress--laws that radically rearrange America’s health system but sidestep significant changes when it comes to tort reform and malpractice insurance.

(The answer to the latter query is that Democrats are in the hip pocket of trial lawyers who give generously to party candidates.)

Adults might also have pondered the dismal fiscal scenarios facing various state-sponsored health-care programs or asked about the June 16 CBO estimate that a Senate version of Obama-care would cost 1.6 trillion dollars over ten years.

Like the President, many Californians seem to have a tenuous grasp on fiscal reality and regularly vote for more government spending to be paid for by “special interests,” by no one in particular, or by funds dedicated to that non-existent budgetary line: Waste, Fraud, Abuse.

Last November’s vote for a ten- to twenty-billion dollar high-speed rail program (in the midst of a massive budget crisis) is the best example of wishful thinking. The legislature’s unwillingness to expand oil leases off the state’s coast ranks second on the unreality list.

Other California dreamers would like to shrink the deficit by putting a liquor-size tax on the legal production of medical marijuana—a change that would reportedly raise over a billion dollars. It would also, of course, contradict the notion that “medical marijuana” is primarily about medicine—since legal grass would be put in the same category as a “hard recreational beverage.”

The next logical step would be a push for the legalization and taxation of weed—naturally for the sake of the state’s economy. Indeed, according to a July 19 Associated Press article in the North County Times, marijuana (legal and illegal) is the multi-billion dollar crop that’s keeping many Northern California counties (and thousands of giddy Californians) afloat.

Wishful adolescent thinking touts cheap blue pills, pricey red pills, ubiquitous green jobs, debt-free bonds, silver “doobie” bullets, and Big-Spin lotteries that pay for schools. Adults ask what things really cost, where substantial savings can be achieved, and what production–based revenues can be generated.

But just as Obama won’t offend trial lawyers, so California’s legislature won’t require significant concessions from the government employee unions that rule Sacramento.

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