States Become Welfare Queens; California Perpetrates "Centrist Evasions"

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First this news from USA Today:

In a historic first, Uncle Sam has supplanted sales, property and income taxes as the biggest source of revenue for state and local governments.

The sales tax had been the No. 1 source of state and local revenue since the mid-1970s, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis. Before that, property taxes were the primary source. That changed in the first three months of 2009.

Federal grants — early stimulus money plus conventional federal aid — soared 15% in the first quarter to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $437 billion, eclipsing sales taxes, which fell 2%.

The dominance of federal money is set to expand dramatically this year because tax collections are sinking while the bulk of federal stimulus aid is just starting to arrive. "This money isn't manna from heaven. It comes with a price," says Indiana state Sen. Jim Buck, a Republican. He worries that the federal money will leave states under greater federal control and burden future generations with debt. […]

The early flow of stimulus money helped lift total state and local revenue by 1.6% in the first quarter compared with a year earlier despite a 2.9% drop in total tax collections. Spending rose 1.5%.

Next, this bit of California-skewering by George Will over the weekend:

If, since 1990, state spending increases had been held to the inflation rate plus population growth, the state would have a $15 billion surplus instead of a $42 billion budget deficit, which is larger than the budgets of all but 10 states. Since 1990, the number of state employees has increased by more than a third. In Schwarzenegger's less than six years as governor, per capita government spending, adjusted for inflation, has increased nearly 20 percent. […]

Who's the economic girly man now?

California teachers—the nation's highest-paid, with salaries about 25 percent above the national average—are emblematic of the grip that government employees unions have on the state, where 57 percent of government workers are unionized (the national average is 37 percent).

Flinching from serious budget cutting and from confronting public employees unions, some Californians focus on process questions. They devise candidate-selection rules designed to diminish the role of parties, thereby supposedly making more likely the election of "moderates" amenable to even more tax increases.

But what actually ails California is centrist evasions. The state's crisis has been caused by "moderation," understood as splitting the difference between extreme liberalism and hyperliberalism, a "reasonableness" that merely moderates the speed at which the ever-expanding public sector suffocates the private sector.

If some of those numbers and concepts look familiar, that's because you can read them and more in our May cover story on Failed States.

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  1. I still don’t understand why Schwarzenegger agreed to pose for a cover story like that.

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  2. Because they misrepresented themselves as being from Aging Muscle magazine.

  3. I think it is a nice picture.

  4. Again, Arnold has been such a big disappoinment.

  5. First part of post comment – He who pays the piper calls the tune.

    Secand part of post comment –

    If some of those numbers and concepts look familiar, that’s because you can read them and more in our May cover story on Failed States.

    When I read Will’s article my first thought was “Reason’s been cribbed”.

    I left California in 1991. At the time, the government didn’t seem small to me by any means. Which raises the obvious question – What the hell have they been doing for 18 years?

  6. “States Become Welfare Queens”

    Uh huh.

    The states catering to all the individual in-state welfare queens is what got them there.

  7. My tummy hurts.

  8. My ass hurts.

  9. Again, Arnold has been such a big disappoinment.

    Funny, Maria said the same thing.

  10. If by “welfare queen” you mean “supported by taxes extracted from productive citizens”, then I think the states have always been welfare queens.

  11. Californian | May 5, 2009, 4:28pm | #

    My ass hurts.

    No, MY ass hurts…

  12. “If by “welfare queen” you mean “supported by taxes extracted from productive citizens”, then I think the states have always been welfare queens.”

    By that definition, the federal government is a welfare queen too.

  13. It’s really hard to believe that just months ago Arnold backed the highspeed train initiative.

  14. It’s really hard to believe that just months ago Arnold backed the highspeed train initiative.

    It is?

  15. It’s really hard to believe that just months ago Arnold backed the highspeed train initiative.

    Maybe he was researching the weed debate in advance?

  16. If by “welfare queen” you mean “supported by taxes extracted from productive citizens”, then I think the states have always been welfare queens.

    You’re absolutely right. The difference between a minimal government that focuses mostly on law enforcement, dispute arbitration, national defense and modest infrastructure development and the modern welfare-warfare statement is one of degree, not kind…

    And this, ladies and gentleman is one of the basic political arguments which makes libertarians look batshit crazy to non-libertarians.

  17. What the hell have they been doing for 18 years?

    How old is that three strikes law again?

  18. Found it! 15 years.

  19. “And this, ladies and gentleman is one of the basic political arguments which makes libertarians look batshit crazy to non-libertarians.”

    Non-libertarians are crazy, so of course sane individuals look crazy to them.

    Any government which coerces it’s funding from the people is inherently the same as the welfare-warfare state, and is indeed only possibly different in degree and details.

    1. The anyone who fails to be me argument is regressive and unfit for office.

      If all ‘non-libertarians’ are crazy, how crazy are y’all to run on platforms demanding you NOT get the job because the job is, in your estimation, fictional?

      Meanwhile, as everyone argues over pennies, the hoarders instigating strife keeping this nation stuck on stupid/ divided against itself continue their plundering unabated.

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  23. Moderates are moderates. Centrists are not moderates, but they’ll consider moderate solutions if they’re wisest.

    The pooh flinging monkeys passing for politicians need an escort to the zoo and order restored in the court. May the better plans prevail.

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  25. People mostly think in conservative or liberal terms, when it comes to decisions, which should be simply solved in an appropriate and reasonable manner, independent of a political attitude. Economis are not conservative nor liberal on their own. Nevertheless this would somehow imply, that politicions would make decisions based on reason, not just on their political party indoctrination, and this would be ridiculous…

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