The real winner in California : You!


Like a schmendrick I included the wrong URL for Jon Fleischman's news aggregator FlashReport.org in my latest Reason print column. I regret the error, and I urge you to head over to the Flash Report and read Fleischman's roundup of the winners and losers in this week's ballot initiative debacle.

It's almost always the case that the losers column is where the really interesting stuff is (and I wish Fleischman had included the state's newspaper editorial boards, and the papers' reporters themselves, for their blithe, blithering, anti-voter editorializing on the initiatives).

But in this case, the long-expected failure of the propositions means the real action was in the winners circle. For several months, members of California's fiscally responsible rump have been competing to take credit for the defeat of the slate. Fleischman gives the top spot to Jon Coupal of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association. Coupal is a frequent contributor for Fleischman, but in this case I think the credit is deserved: Coupal was an energetic presence both among the tea party crowd and in doing anti-Prop 1A media. He and the HJTA helped define the slate of initiatives before supporters ever got a chance.

This performance was in marked contrast to the weak showing by Coupal and others during the end game over last year's budget, which ran into this February. In that case, tax opponents pretty much hunkered down and let the MSM define the handful of principled Republicans in Sacramento as a bunch of dead enders who, as the phrase always goes in these matters "haven't presented any alternative plan." (Admittedly, California Republicans are a weird bunch and hard to defend even in the best of times.)

In general I prefer my niche as the Libertarian Pessimist. I even got agida the night before the vote when I received a remember-to-vote robo-call from one "Alan Helfman" of the L.A. Unified School District's "Office of Government Relations;" I figured in the end the props would pass because the left just wanted it more. So I am really happy that tax rebels have been re-animated. To all readers who wonder why the Brandy Alexander-sipping, inside-the-beltway toffs of Reason are giving so much attention to California, just remember that the Golden State has a long, if checkered and irony-laden, history of leading the rest of the country away from the big-government swamp. The original Prop 13 and the Reagan Revolution were one installment in this history, and I hope Tuesday's low-turnout vote was the beginning of another one. (Provided the Obama Administration doesn't bail out the state first.)