The real winner in California : You!


Like a schmendrick I included the wrong URL for Jon Fleischman's news aggregator 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.)

NEXT: Replacing Justice Souter

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  1. It’s almost always the case that the losers column is where the really interesting stuff is

    And their tears are so yummy and sweet.

  2. Feh! Kaliforn-eye-ay, is twice as hopeless as the rest of the country. Even Iowa has gay marriage now.

  3. I think I am going to enroll at Norwhich University and specialize in terrorism. I love blowin’ shit up.

  4. My vote matched the outcome precisely, but to be honest, I think giving someone credit for the defeat isn’t nearly as accurate as giving the teacher’s union credit for their non-win. If you were here, you’d know — you could tell they just didn’t have their heart in this one.

  5. I voted “no” all the way down. Even 1F. Why give the jerks and excuse to raise taxes to get their pay raises back? But that’s just me because I’m a purist who doesn’t like taxes.

  6. I have to take exception with who you say deserves credit. While both Fleischman and Coupal have done great and wonderful things to help defeat the props, I think the real credit goes to John and Ken of the John and Ken Show on KFI 640 in LA. These guys were on the budget process since ’08, watching everything carefully and reporting all that they found.

    They were also key in holding two anti-tax rallies, including one on May 16, just a few days before the election.

    They also had both gentlemen on the air, allowing them to explain to their listeners exactly what was going on.

    In addition to all that, they are supporting recalls of various Republican assemlymen and state senators for turning their backs on a pledge not to raise taxes anymore.

    I mean, even the governator asked whether he was in charge of running the state or John and Ken. Since the election, John and Ken are awaiting to take their rightful place as co-governers of California.

  7. Forgot one thing:


  8. In general I prefer my niche as the Libertarian Pessimist

    “The” libertarian pessimist? There are many of us, Tim, but we should be called “realists.” The United States has reached the tipping point as a nation. We’re bankrupt, both economically and philosophically. There will be a few illusory victories in the days ahead, but 40 years hence we’ll look back wistfully and tell anyone who listens about the good old days, when Americans were giants.

  9. Large elements of the Left opposed the propositions, because 1A did take money from the Prop 98 guarantees for schools, and other propositions took money mandated for preschool or for mental health programs, and the Left saw these as attacks on their favored parts of government.

    There were two reasons for libertarians and conservatives to oppose the propositions: defeat of 1A will end the sales tax hike in two years instead of 4, and defeat of the propositions shows widespread anger, alienation and distrust of the Governor and the legislature.

    Many unions along with the Green Party and the Peace & Freedom Party opposed all the propositions; the Democratic Party voted to oppose Prop 1A.

    The left was not pushing these – only the Governor, the Democrat leaders in the legislature, and the Teachers Union. The rest of the Left, all the Right, and Libertarians were all against, along with the voters in all 58 counties. (except Prop 1B, backed by the Teachers Union carried three Bay Area counties).

  10. Actually Gene, I have to take a couple of exceptions to what you said.

    First, the Democratic Party did not oppose Prop 1A. The Democrats simply did not endorse it, so it was a sort of a wash.

    Only the Republicans, after much urging from many of their constituents, opposed the measure, but decided not to spend any money supporting that position because they had already given a lion’s share of their funds to the guvenator’s group who supported the proposition.

    Secondly, the other reason many fiscally conservative people voted against 1A, is because it was not a real spending cap. Rather than tying spending to the rate of inflation plus population growth, they calculated how much they were allowed to spend based on the previous ten year’s revenues. There was nothing in there that said they couldn’t raise taxes. What that meant, was that if they did raise taxes, then more revenue would come in, then that would add to the ten year average and they could spend more the following year. Not sure how Arnold could call that a cap.

    Finally, there were several teacher’s unions that opposed all props including 1B, because they were not invited to drink from the trough.

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