Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Thanks, Governator - No Taxes for Corps, No CSUN For Sam

I picked up my son last night from a jazz jam session at Cal State Northridge, the college that he was planning on attending, and that the director of the jazz band was helping him get in to.

"How did it go?" I asked him, noticing that his body language was not what it usually was after playing music. He was slumped, silent, as he got into the car.

"Not so good," he replied. Not so good? How could a jam not be good?

"I'm not getting into CSUN," he said. "The director said that the budget cuts had eliminated the place he was getting me into." He was afraid I'd be mad at him. I just hugged him, speechless.

I've been meaning for a while to post about the real-life effects of the implementation of 'conservative values', which is the basic premise of my book The Price of Right. Since the systematic dismantling of the New Deal beginning with Reagan, wages have not kept pace with prices, and the idea that the government is the enemy and Big Business is your friend has replaced the idea of government as a mechanism of the people to "promote the general welfare" of the country as a whole - in other words, to do collectively what is not possible to do individually, such as police, fire departments, defense, national infrastructure. If profit is the only motivator, why provide these things to less-than-profitable markets? This is the whole point of 'insurance' - to pool resources so that all may benefit. (Or does it only work when a company stands to make a profit from it?) But the myth of the invincibility of the 'free market' (which is not at all free or fair) has superseded the idea that we as a nation can meet our own needs. The idea that private is always better and more efficient than public has turned out disastrously for all but those who 'corner the market'. Collective bargaining has been replaced by paternalism and 'hoping for the best'. The balance between public and private has become completely lopsided, and the casualties have been those who can least afford it.

Case in point - in California, the UC system, once the crown jewel of America's higher education - a state which once pledged to make college free and available to all Californians, and succeeded - has now been slashed to the bone by the Governator, along with health and human services, so as not to offend corporations by (Heaven forbid) raising taxes. And the fed refuses to help California, while it bails out private marauders. And the marauders themselves, fat with the largess of the American taxpayer? Ellen Brown says:

Four Wall Street banks, which received $15-25 billion each from the taxpayers, have rejected California's IOUs because the State is supposedly a bad credit risk. The bailed out banks would seem to have a duty to lend a helping hand, but they say they don't want to delay an agreement on further austerity measures. State legislators are not bowing quickly to the pressure, but what is the alternative?

In the latest twist to the California budget saga, Citigroup, Wells Fargo, and JPMorgan Chase (which each got $25 billion in bailout money from the taxpayers) and Bank of America (which got $15 billion) have refused California's request for a loan to tide it over until October. Until the State can get things sorted out, it has started paying its creditors in IOUs ("I Owe You's" or promises to pay bearing interest, technically called registered warrants). Its Wall Street creditors, however, have refused to take them. Why? The pot says the kettle is a poor credit risk!

California expects to need to issue only about $13 billion in IOUs through September, and all its Governor has asked for in the way of a loan from the federal government is a guarantee for $6 billion. Total loans, commitments and guarantees to rescue the financial sector and stem the credit crisis have been estimated at $12.8 trillion. But California has not been invited to the banquet. The total sum California needs to balance its budget is $26.3 billion. That is about the same sum given to Citigroup, Wells Fargo and JPMorgan in bailout money; and it is only about one-tenth the sum given to AIG, a mere insurance company. Corporations evidently trump States and their citizens in the eyes of the powers controlling the purse strings. California has a gross domestic product of $1.7 trillion annually and has been rated the world's eighth largest economy. Its 38.3 million people are one-eighth of the nation's population and a key catalyst for U.S. retail sales. When the California consumer base falters, businesses are shaken nationwide. If AIG and the other Wall Street welfare recipients are too big to fail, California is way too big to fail.

I am sick to death of the idea of "what's good for business is good for America".

Guess what? It's not!

Greed is not good. Greed has put us where we are today. And greed continues to take us down - greed disguised as 'personal responsibility', greed disguised as the 'invisible hand of the free market', greed disguised as the metaphor 'wealth=morality'.

And the Governator is following obediently in Reagan's footsteps; first, destroy California's university system, then prop up the corporations on the backs of the poor and the sick.

St. Ronnie must be so proud of how you're Terminating Cali, Mr. Governator! I'm sure he's smiling down on you from his fluffy cloud in the sky.

Wait - no; it's only gas.


Distributorcap said...

what has happened to calif is nothing short of criminal - from this populist govt by proposition to someone like darryl issa putting through a recall - and now the governator -- a lot of people really wanted to wash the golden state down the toilet

nunya said...

Wow, I'm really sorry. That's a bummer. One of my favorite authors,
Mike Davis
teaches there.

Amazing how we've managed to find money to fund prisons, but not schools :(

Alicia Morgan said...

Dcap - you are so damn right. I hate the proposition system, and that is really what has driven us over a cliff. I was beyond sickened the way the Texas oil people stole the govenorship from Gray Davis after jacking us around on the power, had a bogus election to install the Governator (winning with 17% of the electorate) and have commenced to continue the flushing ever since. Prop 13 doomed our educational system, and enacting laws theough the prop system is just ridiculous.

Nunya - yes - its funny how that works...

PhysioProf said...

Damn fucking straight. You Cali motherfuckers need to fix up your constitution, or you're totally fucked.

Comrade Kevin said...

My sister lives in Portland and she has seen people from California stream across the line into Oregon, desperate to find any work at all.

Unfortunately, when one factors in part-time and underemployed workers, the unemployment rate there is 23%. Quickly they learn that they best move on to somewhere else.