Solving California’s Budgetary Crisis

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I understand that this is delving into territory that can, typically, be very boring and I’ll be attempting to sound both educated and smart which is not only a stretch but a departure from my normal cock-infused humor so for the benefit of my readers,  I’ll try to punch it up where I can.

There’s an old saying that says something to the effect of, “As goes California, so goes the rest of the country.” This used to be an accurate statement in regards to California’s forward thinking constituency and their desire to adopt new social norms and technology. It’s somewhat lacking in the social aspects these days what with California’s refusal to accept gay marriage while other states are embracing societal change but that is neither here nor there. The real, as goes CA goes the country, analogy comes from California’s complete ineptitude for balancing a budget.  As the eighth, formerly fifth, largest economy in the world, as California delves deeper into its economic woes so does the rest of the country.

It seems fairly obvious that our state legislators lack the ability to balance the budget.  It’s not really all that surprising considering they’re approaching the process with the fiscal responsibilities normally associated with a five year old who stands in the toy aisle screaming, “I want! I want!” and threatening to throw a tantrum until their greedy desires are met.  Few, if any, of our elected representatives seem to be able to think outside the box when it comes to filling a monetary hole that makes the Grand Canyon look minuscule in scale.

“but..what about my high speed rail prooojeect?”

Seeing as how no one in state government is capable of solving this problem – one that could be solved by simply holding up two large sheets of butcher paper with “Where our money comes from” on one and “Where our money goes” on the other and figuring out how to lessen the disparity- I’ve come up with  four easy steps to solving California’s budgetary crisis.

Step One: Part Time Legislature.
As of September 11th, 2008 the elected representatives that are responsible for making laws and deciding public policy for this state had an approval rating of around 15%.  Let’s put that into perspective for a moment: President George W. Bush’ final approval rating, after his eight years of shenanigans was 22%.  So while a majority of the country thought that G-Dub was doing a piss poor job, even he didn’t sink as low as California’s law makers.  By popular opinion poll it’s fairly obvious that those we have chosen to govern over us are not doing their job up to our standards.

And I’ll be honest, my standards are neither high, nor exacting, and the fact that they fail to live up to even  my expectations is frustrating.

As of January 1st 2008 California law makers make $169,300 a year. And I’m not certain if that includes their per diem or not.  Based on the 2009 published legislative calendar they meet for a grand total of 206 days a year, after breaks, weekends, summer recess and the long term in which they do nothing between mid September and early January. This means that they work 1072 hours.  For a grand hourly total of $157.93 an hour.  Of course this bars any overnight or long running sessions but let’s compare this to, say, my work year. Based on the same salary. Providing two weeks paid vacation and about 5 days of public holidays a year. I work 2032 hours, almost double, and would make $83.32, Almost half. (lookit me I know maffs).

I love it when you talk numbers

With 40 state senators and 80 state assembly members the total payout from your tax dollars for people 85% of us don’t think are doing their job is – $20,316,000. This figure does not take into account that during the 2009 budget fiasco they voted to give themselves a raise.

If you worked for a private company, and only did your job to your bosses standard (that boss would be us the tax payers of California by the way) 15% of the time and then had the BALLS to walk into your bosses office as he’s crunching the numbers about how many other employees to lay off, and demanded a pay raise you’d probably be laughed out of their office and return to your desk to find that you made the top of the “We don’t need to pay these pricks anymore” list. Hell, even a pro athlete, at those levels, would find himself either back down in the minors working for pennies or looking for a new career path.

So I propose that the legislative body meets three times a year, one month at a time. They will continued to be paid their calculated hourly pay, from above, but only during those three months.  This means that on average the individual legislator will work 22 days a month, 8 hours a day, for an annual salary of $83,387.  For the 120 state legislators the grand tally would come out to $10,006,444.8.  The other ten million dollars that is saved can be put back into the public treasury. Pay raises will be left up to the public as their salary comes from the public coffers and we should have a voice in how our money is spent.  They will not receive per diem because earning almost my yearly salary in a month means they can pay for their own fucking rental car if they need it and stay at a cheaper hotel.

The truncated time table will also be a boon for the people of California because those items that are pressing – LIKE THE FUCKING BUDGET YOU ASSHOLES – will need to be fought over and voted on in a timely fashion leaving “pet projects” and “well we have to do something for the ridiculous pay check we’re receiving”  legislation with little time to be discussed and even less time gain even a modicum of momentum.

Which brings us to step two.

Step Two: Less Regulation
A study was done recently that proved that the more liberal states in the country have the least amount of personal freedoms. The lack of these freedoms comes as a result of states trying to regulate every last iota of personal responsibility out of a persons life. Typically; regulating industries serves to make sure things like child labor and rampant dumping of industrial waste in parks doesn’t happen. But like this study says, “over regulation turns most liberal states into nanny states.”

From a business owners/entrepreneur perspective, the prospect of starting a business in California is an expensive and unappetizing one. From laws regulating environmental impact, mandatory health care, workman’s comp along with one of the highest tax rates in the country, California is really punching itself in the crotch when it comes to attracting businesses to the region.

From a personal freedom standpoint it appears as though the people we’ve elected into office look at their voting public as small children incapable of making sound decisions without the iron fist of their elected leaders. Most of California’s laws are enacted as reactive fear mongering in the face of special interest groups or hyperbolic public out cry due to media constructed situations that don’t merit a frenzied, hand wringing response.  As the elected officials slowly tighten their grip on what we as Californians are allowed to do, more people are simply saying, “Fuck it, I don’t want to be a Californian,” and moving to Nevada to fire automatic weapons, drink publicly at 5am and nail prostitutes.

the head of Nevada’s Board of Tourism

But California has so much to offer: beaches, mountains, two of the most well known cities in the world, the film industry, the list really does go on and on.  But at this point it’s so expensive to run a business in California that most “Hollywood” films are shot in Canada.  Think, on that alone, how much money would be brought back to the golden state.  But the legislators seem more concerned about the welfare of a monkey on set of a ABC family film and less about the companies that could be servicing that TV shoot and feeding their families off of a California home grown asset.

If legislators were to loosen up the guidelines by which Californians are forced to live and work people and businesses would return and with them would come their their incomes and their tax revenue.

Which brings us to step three.

Step Three: Quit Raising Taxes and Quit Trying To Create Jobs.
I understand the need for taxes.  We, as citizens, pay taxes, to the state, and in return the state provides us with social services like police, fireman, garbage picker-uppers and public school teachers.  We also pay taxes for infrastructure and upkeep on the public use areas of our state; parks, roads, that sort of thing.  Unfortunately it looks as though the ever increasing California taxes – or the stimulus money for that matter – are not being put to use the way they should.  California’s roads, once lauded as the greatest in the nation, are in disrepair and part of the budgetary process calls for closing down a great number of California’s state parks.  Not to mention the rampant laying off of law enforcement throughout the state.

According to the Tax Foundation, California’s corporate tax rate is the eighth highest in the country; overall, Californians face the sixth highest state-local tax burden in the United States. This cost of living yoke that is straining the necks of people in California is too much to bear and as such the people are fleeing the state. If a high cost of living is driving people out of the state, providing for less money being spent IN the state, then raising taxes to accommodate for that is only going to drive more people and businesses to leave.

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If you raise taxes two percent and that drives three percent of the state population away then you’ve netted a loss of income.  And raising taxes more to accommodate that just screws  you more.  Wiser spending of the current tax income would seem more prudent than raising, say, the tax on beer, which causes less people to buy Budweiser, which causes the Budweiser bottling plant in Vacaville to close down, which loses hundreds of jobs and hundreds more worth of state business and personal tax income.

And then there’s the idea of “government” creating “jobs”.

When it comes to a business climate I’m a firm believer in private enterprise.  The government’s job is not to create jobs.  The government’s role is to govern and to foster a climate that encourages the creation of jobs through private enterprise. If a government, already BILLIONS in the hole, is unable to keep it’s current work force then the idea of that said same government trying to create new jobs seems counter productive. You’re robbing Peter to pay Paul. You’re netting nothing out of that transaction and merely making a media friendly slight of hand.

Step Four: Exploit Personal Freedoms for Monetary Gain
As much as I am against regulation and taxation, there’s a couple of areas of “personal freedom” that can be exploited by regulating and taxing them.  This is the first one: Legalize Prostitution.

Anyone who think prostitution doesn’t happen here in California, much less some of the state’s larger cities are either A)blind B)retarded or C)someone who has never been on “this internet thing all the kids are talking about”.  Prostitution is very rampant and after one visit to craigslist, myredbook or adult friend finder anyone can see that it’s also a booming industry.  And it’s high time we legitimize it and rake in some of its sticky and stinky dollars.

The reason that prostitution is illegal all pretty much boils down to puritanical bullshit.  Special interest groups are up in arms over prostitution because they think that it’s harmful and degrading to women.  And in it’s current inception it very likely is.  Since it’s illegal it’s impossible for a woman to report on being robbed by a John, getting the crapped kicked out of her by her pimp and makes them wary of going to the hospital for fear of being reported.  But if you take away the power of a pimp’s persuasion and make the industry a state regulated entity, and the involvement in that entity becomes the girl’s choice, you remove any of the need for fear and the entire industry becomes safer.  Both for proprietors and customers.  And since we already regulate and tax all the other vices, it wouldn’t be too hard to grandfather this one into the fold of alcohol and tobacco.  By doing this you create jobs that must now pay state taxes – at their existing level you jackasses – and you allow for a growth industry as well as a tourism industry.  Because when people go on vacation they want to have fun.

pictured: FUN!

Which brings us to personal freedom number 2:  it’s time to legalize pot.

Again, a prospect where the state can regulate and tax something that is already a booming industry and cut down on money spent, arresting, prosecuting and jailing people for petty offenses.  Last time I checked legalizing marijuana would result in some 200,000 less arrests per year.  That’s 200,000 people we don’t have to spend state tax dollars on jailing and “rehabilitating”.  And the state really wouldn’t have to invest in the project.  The infrastructure already exists all over the state.  Even the means of distribution is available.  Think about the pot industry like micro-brew beers.

Cannabis clubs already exist, those are the bars.  Certainly there would be big name, state sponsored growers; think of them like Budweiser but at the same time local growers could package and distribute their distinct blends to the cannabis clubs at a premium price.  I pay more at a bar for a New Castle than I do for a Coors because I think Coors is watered down piss and I’ll happily pay a premium as a consummate beer drinker.  So will potheads.  Sure there are people who are happy with Coors, and they’ll be happy with state weed and you’ll get state revenue off of that weed which will, more than likely, be produced in mass and very cheaply.  But you’ll also rake in cash from the premium varietals.

Think of how much tourist cash Nevada gets every year because they, for the most part, have the monopoly on the tourist gambling dollar.  We could rake in just as much by having a monopoly on prostitution and weed.

And think of all of the money you’ll rake in, hand over fucking fist, on the sales of Ho-Hos alone. That’s a win/win right there my friends.

Travis
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There Are 2 Responses So Far. »

  1. Brilliant!

  2. The fact that prostitution and weed aren’t legalized yet is pretty preposterous… These are two pretty harmless vices that get a bad reputation due to the fact that religion won’t get it’s dirty, ugly hands out of government. Last I checked, Amsterdam’s doing alright. And Nevada seems to be doing incredibly well with it’s legalized prostitution.

    Get with it, California. Seriously.

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