A majority of Californians have woken up to the fact that the High Speed Rail plan they were duped into supporting three years ago is an unrealistic, overpriced boondoggle. Instead of the affordable, job-creating, cutting edge panacea they were promised, they've since come to realize HSR is going to cost a lot more than advertised, and it's promised jobs will cost our economy more money than they produce. That's also true of the much touted "green economy" on which California's Democrats have placed all bets on our state's economic future. One can only look forward to the day a majority of Californians will similarly wake up and realize they're being sold a similar bill of goods.
For years, independent analysts insisted that the true cost of a HSR system between Los Angeles and San Francisco would cost much more than the $33 billion voters were told in 2009 by HSR's nine-member board. After years of delays and denials, the board's own revised business plan pegs even its now scaled-down HSR system will cost at least $98.5 billion. This cold blast of reality has rightfully turned Californians against the project. A recent Field Poll shows a solid majority of Californians would reject HSR if it were presented to them for a vote today.
This short-circuiting of expectations for HSR and the public's response provides us an excellent societal barometer for predicting the demise of California's admirable but perhaps naive faith in the green jobs panacea. Obviously, research and development into alternate energy systems is very important-- no one is arguing against that. But what's been missing in the green jobs frenzy, just as was missing for too many years in the HSR debate, is an honest appraisal of the cost and the sustainability of green jobs, especially while California’s economy not only continues to struggle, but also lags behind the rest of the country.
Unfortunately, Democrat Governor Jerry Brown not only remains convinced that High Speed Rail must proceed, he's just as equally enamored of all things green. Faced with the prospect of how to restore the two million jobs California lost during the Great Recession, he's charging full speed ahead with his agenda to wring green prosperity out of the Golden State by regulations and edicts, even though there's never been an example of any economy, anywhere, at any time throughout the history of man, that has grown and expanded by mandate of government.
The non-partisan Brookings institute released a report a few months ago which shows green technology jobs accounted for just 2 percent of employment nationwide and only slightly more, just 2.2 percent, in Silicon Valley. The same study also shows that Silicon Valley's green sector actually lost 492 jobs between 2003 to 2010. Brown is putting all of California's eggs into the green jobs basket, even while his own estimates include a total increase of only 500,000 green jobs statewide in the next nine years, and we have nothing more than his promise that such will occur.
In 2008, Californians voted in favor of High Speed Rail, but provided with new information they are now ready to make a new decision. In 2010, Californians rejected Proposition 23, a common sense suspension of AB32, the green economy regulatory scheme. As that scheme unfolds, Californians will see for themselves the price of, well, just about everything increases. They'll come to realize that the green jobs "created" by regulation and mandate came only at a cost to every other sector of our economy. They will see California continue to lag behind the rest of the U.S., even while Jerry Brown and his fellow bureaucrats insist their failure is nothing more than proof that they haven't done enough.
One can only wonder when the public will tire of, and revolt against, the empty rhetoric. One can only wonder what new collection of information will be enough to jolt them to the simple truth that once again, they've been sold a bill of goods. California needs jobs of all kinds, not just green jobs. When it comes to jobs and the economy, we owe it to ourselves to be color-blind.
Governor Brown has promised 500,000 green jobs by the end of the decade, but so far, we’ve seen nothing to indicate that those jobs may become reality. By now, the public should be expressly tired of empty rhetoric. And, Brown should be colorblind when it comes to jobs; Californians just want jobs, they don't care what color they are.
Dear Californians: Is this what you wanted when you put the Democrats in power? Really?
There’s no arguing that California is a blue state. Most Californians embrace what Democrats like to sell. Even though they typically deliver a lot more sizzle than steak, Democrats talk the good talk when it comes to good schools, environmental protections, and helping the poor.
All those are laudable goals. But while talking the talk about what Californians want to hear, Democrats have been successfully implementing a very different agenda during the four decades they’ve been in charge of government in Sacramento. In the name of producing good schools, they’ve created a top heavy education bureaucracy with some of the highest paid, but least accountable teachers in the world. While touting environmental protection, they’ve created an unresponsive, red-tape wielding maze of agencies and permits and regulations that kill jobs and needlessly cost consumers. In the name of helping those who can’t help themselves, they’ve built a service-delivery army that now perseveres even while those who depend on those services go wanting.
This didn’t happen overnight. It’s been creeping up on us for more than 40 years, not coincidentally, the same period the Democrats have enjoyed a nearly uninterrupted streak of legislative dominance. It’s time for some perspective on how far California’s state government has wandered off track while Democrats have been running the show.
Traditionally, state governments are pretty much the boring, stable relatives of the high-falutin’ federal government with its civil rights laws and national defense and stick-it-to-the-man environmental protections. Local governments can have their own flash too, and it’s not that big a deal when they announce they’re going to be a sanctuary city or impose a living wage laws, as long as the buses run fairly regularly and the cops show up when your house is broken into.
State government isn’t what most people think of when it comes to the in-your-face issues of our daily lives. State government is about highways, and water projects and weights and measures. Stuff we count on, but kind of take for granted. Taking care of the basics is what state government does best. You know, the boring stuff we rightfully pay people to take care of so we don’t have to bother with it. It’s even forgivable when state government politicians can’t help themselves and start to dabble in social issues, as long as they also take care of the basics.
Which brings us up to date here in California. Governors come and Governors go, and they do what they can, but in California, the real power of state government resides in the legislature. And even in the days before Willie Brown appointed himself the Ayatollah of the Assembly, the state legislature has been dominated by Democrats. And it’s during that last 40 years or so that California’s state government has veered wildly off track, regulating, or attempting to regulate, more and more of how society operates, while conveniently ignoring the mess they’ve made handling their basic responsibilities.
Four decades of Democrats dominating state government, and we have: A dysfunctional education system so broken that a Stanford University study five years ago declared so bad it would be pointless to give it more money until fundamental reforms are put in place.
An insufficient water supply for food, industry, or our growing population Crumbling roadways, and mass transit programs statewide shutting down or limiting routes and schedules.
A bloated state government bureaucracy filled with redundant and inefficient systems. An unsustainable pension system that’s soon going to require more money for ex-workers than those employees actually on the job.
California voters, is this really what you wanted when you voted for that politician with the D next to his name? Do you really agree with Democratic Speaker of the Assembly John Perez when says we have to raise taxes, or else government employees will lose their job? Do you really support our Governor Jerry Brown when he cuts billions to schools and support programs and medical care for the elderly and disabled, then gives prison guards a raise? Do these sound like the actions of people who take their job of managing our state government responsibly, or do these seem more the likes of those who focus on political solutions, when they should be fixing our budget solutions.
There’s an old joke about the man whose wife walks in when he’s in bed with his lover. “Who are you going to believe,” he protests? “Me, or your own eyes?” How many more years of abject failure by our Democrat-dominated state government will it take before Californians start believing their own eyes, and demand a responsible alternative to a four decade legacy of failure?
The parents of the city of Compton realize what many of us have understood for so long – teachers' unions sabotage the futures of children who unfortunately have no choice in where they receive their education. Teachers' unions would rather have parents believe that a school’s failure is completely inadvertent, and more times than not, a lack of resources and parental involvement are the chief conspirators in collusion to derail children from the education they truly deserve.
I’m amazed that our state's finest teachers haven’t thought of a way to fix those problems. Better still, it is surprising that unions are fighting the very group of people who ultimately pay their salaries…parents. Teachers' unions often boast themselves as stalwart allies of parents in a constant battle with conservative lawmakers who desperately want to “defund” public schools. Every effort to establish some sort of connection between student performance and teacher evaluation is met with hostility. Teachers unions would like us to believe that there are so many mitigating circumstances affecting student performance that it totally absolves them from being looked at with a magnifying glass. Truthfully, teachers' unions are quite comfortable staying in that gray area, because once those clouds of gray start to dissolve, they know parents like the ones in Compton can see the sun in the horizon and demand a better education for their child.
Failing public schools serve as a catalyst for the unemployment and desolate conditions that often become a mainstay in many inner city environments, and it will remain that way because the teachers' unions are using the backs of inner city children and families as political collateral. Parents have grown weary of sending their children to school and seeing the same results with the same excuses regurgitated over and over again. California’s parent trigger law empowers parents to transform a failing public school into a charter school, replace staff and provide new leadership, or replace the current principal with a qualified and results proven innovator. What’s happening in Compton is an epic battle for the future of our children. Our children don’t owe anything to unions; their debt was paid by those who paved the way for them to have access to a brighter future.
This is clearly a time for California where efficiency must know no exemptions.
If teachers' unions and liberals really believe in the people, then why is there such a prolific battle to stop parents from having the right to send their children to the school that is best able to foster their natural abilities and provide them with the tools to facilitate their success? Because it is never really about the students for the lot of teachers' unions, it is about protecting the system and their own interests. Many are afraid to say it, but teaching has become a fall-back profession; it isn’t the profession which many go into with that sense of community, given that liberals and teachers' unions often esteem their community as the number one reason for going into teaching. Our schools are failing miserably, in fact, to the point where teachers are scarce and the state has to incentivize a career option where the true enticement is supposed to be the potential to impact a life.
Putting the community first is a mindset that liberals have laid claim to. Now is the time to see if they can defend that territory or show that they’ve been too inundated with public union-backed messages to understand why they do what it is they do. The whole state of California is closely watching the developments in Compton to see who will win the battle to save these failing schools – the parents or the unions.
Jerry Brown’s Budget Proposal: A Union-First Budget
Yesterday, Democrat Governor Jerry Brown unveiled his much anticipated budget proposal, which calls for some much needed cuts, and as expected, a plea to again extend the temporary tax hikes set to expire in June. Judging from some of the feedback from the press, many see the spending cuts as Jerry's reasoned efforts to close the budget gap, and show that Brown is willing to take on his own party. But a closer look reveals that Jerry's stated choice between draconian cuts or more taxes is a false dichotomy. It conveniently takes attention from the real battle, the battle between the taxpayers and the state's entrenched bureaucracy.
Brown has preposterously proposed to enact over $60 billion dollars in new taxes over the next 5 years, or as he’d like to have us believe, California will soon mirror a scene from Richard Matheson’s I Am Legend.
It's disappointing that Governor Brown isn’t addressing the structural problems that make up California’s deep $28.5 billion dollar deficit. Public employee unions are driving the state to fiscal insolvency right before our eyes, and yet he continues to evade the problem. This becomes clearer after flipping through a couple of pages of Brown’s proposal. As they say, the devil is in the details. Look at this information, taken from the Governor's own summary of his budget proposal:
Spending reductions proposed by Governor Brown for services:
1. $1.7 billion to Medi-Cal. 2. $1.5 billion to California’s welfare-to-work program (CalWORKs). 3. $750 million to the Department of Developmental Services. 4. $500 million to the University of California. 5. $500 million to California State University.
That’s roughly $5 billion in cuts to services provided by the state's taxpayers. In contrast, here are the cuts proposed by Brown for state government operations:
1. $200 million through a variety of actions, including reorganizations, consolidations and other efficiencies. 2. 10 percent reduction in take-home pay for state employees not currently covered under collective bargaining agreements.
Do you see the difference? Billions in cuts to those receiving services, but only scant millions in cuts to state bureaucrats. This, more than anything else, tells us all we need to know about who Brown really favors.
Also missing from Brown's budget formula? How about some long-overdue pension reform? The truth be told, Brown would rather raise taxes on millions of hard working Californians still reeling from the effects of the recession, rather than pick a fight with his own party and its government union masters. He's willing to throw the blind, elderly and disabled under the wheels of the bus rather than tell his campaign contributors they're going to have to learn how to make do with less. Brown said during his campaign for governor that we have to “pull together…as Californians first.” Brown’s refusal to address the structural inefficiencies with our system of government makes it obvious that its still "government first," and he's beholden to the public employee unions.
Jerry Brown’s budget proposal is a budget designed to protect the government class, not the people.
When it comes to communications, President Barack Obama is considered by many to be a chess grand master; the President’s mastery of language, sophisticated delivery, and Pierce Brosnan-like style display a complex rhetorical presence that admittedly wins over people that aren’t politically informed. Well, the chessboard has now shifted from a one-dimensional surface to a three-dimensional nightmare for the President, where the Democrats who are tasked with protecting the agenda of their leader have staged a coup d’état, and have politely told the president, “No thanks,” clearing the way for Republicans to say “checkmate.”
President Obama’s grandstanding culminated Friday, with Uncle Bill flying in to save the day again, offering his advice for how he handled the Republican shellacking he took in ’94. Obama, during the press conference with Bill Clinton, awkwardly stepped back into the shadows, hands clasped together cumbersomely, and allowed former president Clinton to take over the podium, the very podium which prominently displays the Great Seal of the President of the United States. After just 10 minutes, Obama decided that the audience was in “good hands” with Clinton, abruptly darted out a back door, and off to a Christmas party with Madame Obama.
So who exactly is the President here, Bill Clinton or Barack Obama? My belief is that Obama would actually prefer for Clinton to be President right now. Who would have thought that the master of allure would need a charismatic bailout? Instead of bringing his party together to collaborate with Republicans, Obama has upset his base, derided Republicans for trying to keep money in everyone’s pockets during a recession, and doesn’t want to deal with the flack he is receiving.
I maybe hallucinating here, but this isn’t the prudent communications strategist that was elected President in 2008, or is it? Before Republicans start rejoicing over the possibility of a Democrat catch 22, keep in mind that this could be a trap! This could be another strategic chess move by Obama to appear to be a shining knight to the pawns, who he’ll tell in 2012 he fought his own party for the sake of the bill (pun intended), all in an effort to remain “King”. Obama’s decision to allow Clinton to be President Pro-Tempore looked feeble, ill-conceived, and discouraging to Democrats. But is it just a set-up to get Democrats on board to work with Republicans? Because Bill Clinton arguably is still a likeable figure, the president could merely be taking a hit to his image to pacify his Democrat base, while at the same time setting up the narrative in 2012, that he fought his own party. Brilliant!
Or am I giving the President too much credit? You decide.
Two weeks ago, the California GOP and many other California Republicans anxiously waited for the polls to close and for most television outlets to project massive gains for the GOP throughout the state of California. California press however, didn’t share the same sense of enthusiasm. Weeks prior to the election, the liberal mainstream press in California, had already begun writing the narrative that the Republican wave would crash with a resounding thud against the Sierra Mountains.
Much to the chagrin of the CRP, unfortunately, the press turned out to be correct.
What the media missed, however, is the herculean effort from California Democrats to fortify the border in fear of a Republican resurgence. This election cycle was doused with desperation for democrats as they needed to rely on five fundraising visits from President Barack Obama, non-stop campaigning from former president Bill Clinton, mindless Joe Biden speeches, and an appearance from the creator-of-the-internet Al Gore. Democrats had to use more resources this election cycle than they have ever used before to keep the GOP from pulling out an upset. Quite frankly that says a whole lot.
Internally, the CRP still had a good year, registering a record number of new GOP voters, closing the gap between registered Democrats and Republicans, flipping San Diego County back to a GOP majority, getting Sam Blakeslee elected to the State Senate in a district where the Democrats have a 6 point registration advantage and where Obama won by 20 points in 2008, and presenting the most diverse statewide ticket in the party's history.
But in the end, it means nothing unless our party begins the long, steady process of reaching into communities where the Democrats traditionally enjoy an advantage. It begins with a simple message:
Democrats believe in government, Republicans believe in you.
Republicans believe in your right to hold the government accountable. We believe in your tenacity, your resolve in times of misery, and your personal integrity. We believe you have the right to send your children to the school that is going to best foster their natural abilities, and provide them with the tools that will help facilitate their success. We believe whether you are Black, White, Hispanic, or all of the above, you are the stuff that presidents are made of.
If we want to win, I believe we need to get back to those basic principles.
The CRP launched an impressive Networks program mid-election cycle but the outreach efforts should be more sustainable and more immense. Recently, our candidate for Secretary of State, Damon Dunn, was speaking at the California College Republican convention in Los Angeles this past summer, and asked several minorities in the crowd, “When is the last time a Republican knocked on your door introduced himself, and just talked with you?”
As you may have guessed, the silence that ensued parallels the silence after Jesus said “Peace be still.” No one could answer the question. Ultimately, when we minorities across the state can answer that question with confidence, the party will be in far better shape.
So, my fellow Republicans, trust that the lesson has been learned. We need to get back to the basics, back to our Reagan principles, and accept what I call "diversity of the same opinion." Believe me, I know this isn’t easy, and it will take a monumental effort to make the changes that I have suggested. But rest assured that the CRP is already putting the plans together to be a stronger, more diverse, and more effective party in 2012. You can reach Micah at firstname.lastname@example.org