Government Spending

More Blaming the Minority, California Style

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In 2002, California Democrats won all eight statewide electoral offices for the first time since the 19th century. The party has controlled the State Senate since 1970 (currently enjoying a 25-15 advantage there), and the State Assembly (where it has a 49-29-1 edge) for 37 of those 39 years, including the last 13 consecutive. Registered Democrats outnumber registered Republicans by around 44 percent to 31 percent; the state has voted Democratic in the last five presidential elections, both U.S. senators have been Democratic since 1992, and in the last half-century the California caucus in the U.S. House of Representatives has been Democratic for all but one session.

So! You'll never guess who longtime L.A. labor toady Harold Meyerson is blaming for a budget deal this week so savage that it scaled back spending all the way back to 2005:

Old Weird Harold

The most basic principle of any democracy is that of majority rule, with minority rights running a clear but close second. Simple though this precept may be, California seems to have gotten it backward. The budget deal that emerged from Sacramento on Monday was the result of minority rule […]

Republicans…decided to close a $26-billion shortfall entirely through gimmicks and cutbacks, and the state's Constitution gave them the power to game the situation to their advantage.

Left unmentioned in Meyerson's minority report: The fact that California voters, by an average margin of 30 percentage points, rejected a more union/Meyerson-friendly cocktail of tax/fee increases this May at the ballot box, despite the "Yes" side (which was supported by Republican Gov. Schwarzenegger, among others) outspending the opposition by seven to one. Surely that has some relevance? As does the fact that public sector unions, and the Democratic Party they influence, have helped jack up the state's annual contributions to the CalPERS pension fund from $321 million in 2000-2001 to $7.3 billion. And the fact that the powerful prison guards union helped increase state incarceration spending by 75 percent in five years. Also, enough Republicans peeled away from the Insane Clown Caucus to pass budget "fixes" as recently as…this February.

Meyerson is right about one thing, though–the draconian budget cuts are a crude failure of governance. If you accept the existence of a social safety net, then surely times of economic woe are when you use the thing, not hack it in half. Problem is, thanks to Meyersonian politics, California, like virtually all 50 states, went on a spending binge when times were good, without the kind of noticeable improvement in services that would build public support for higher taxes and fees.

Back in 2003, when the state faced similar dire straits, the California-based Reason Foundation, which is the nonprofit that publishes this website and associated magazine, proposed a "Citizens' Budget" [PDF] that would have covered the massive shortfall and even produced a surplus without cutting vital services and while spending even more money on education. One of the great failures of Schwarzenegger's term in office is that he abandoned the kind of forward-thinking reforms in the Citizens' Budget just as soon as unions hounded him into a humiliating ballot-box defeat in 2005. The best that can be said about the current crap-sandwich is that it might shut down some truly odious government programs (such as various eminent domain-abusing redevelopment agencies), it puts off for the moment job-killing tax hikes, and it fires a political shot across the bow of free-spending politicians elsewhere, including in the White House. It is, in every sense of the word, a shame that things had to come to this.

Let's give the last word to Meyerson, since I'm sure we'll continue hearing similar talk on the federal level going forward:

Californians need to amend their state Constitution, in convention if need be, to end the practice of minority rule. Democracy—not to mention the future of the state—depends on it.

NEXT: Obama in the Waiting Room: It's gonna be a little while longer...

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  1. “The fact that someone, somewhere, can say ‘no’ to my moral and intellectual superiority is an existential threat to humanity and must be eliminated, for our own good and for the good of our children and of the Earth itself.”

    Did I miss anything?

  2. The most basic principle of any democracy is that of majority rule, with minority rights running a clear but close second.

    This would be really important if we were actually a democracy, I’m sure. But we pesky republics just fuck everything up 😉

  3. The most basic principle of any democracy is that of majority rule, with minority rights running a clear but close second.

    What does this even mean? Doesn’t it mean that what the majority says, goes, period, end of story? We may give lip service to minorities getting their rights stepped on, but they should be grateful if they get that much?

  4. That guy has an incredibly punchable face, glasses or no.

  5. DanD, it seems more knee-able to me.

  6. They really used a great picture to get that point across Dan.

  7. Minorities don’t have rights, individuals do.

    And individual rights come way, way, way ahead of majority rule in my book at least.

  8. If they’re going to amend the Constitution for anything they should a) Make it harder to amend the constitution by propositions (at least 60% if not 2/3s) and b) end ballot box budgeting.

  9. The most basic principle of any democracy is that of majority rule, with minority rights running a clear but close second.

    What if that minority is defined by ethnicity instead of by GOP party identification?

  10. Who care what an non-Amish guy with a mustacheless beard has to say?

    Cover your philtrum like a decent person, you supercilious hack.

  11. SugarFree – so you’re not a Metallica fan, or does the rule only apply to spoken words?

  12. “R C Dean | July 23, 2009, 12:06pm | #
    The most basic principle of any democracy is that of majority rule, with minority rights running a clear but close second.

    What does this even mean? Doesn’t it mean that what the majority says, goes, period, end of story? We may give lip service to minorities getting their rights stepped on, but they should be grateful if they get that much?”

    What it means is sometimes called “The Tyranny of the Majority”. http://is.gd/1J3kn explains

    It’s why we are a Representative Republic, and part of the deficiency in current government is that most of the people driving this train, high on cocai . . . er, power, don’t KNOW that. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Republic

  13. “Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote.”
    –Benjamin Franklin

    Shut the fuck up, Meyerson, you shitclown.

  14. I was a Metallica fan until the Napster bullshit. Nothing after And Justice For All… will ever sully my iPod.

  15. I was a Metallica fan until the Napster bullshit.

    I was fairly indifferent about Metallica until that went down. Now i want to cut Lars Ulrich in half with a battleaxe.

  16. Metalheads are immune to polearm damage. It’s a class bonus.

  17. Metallica is the worst fucking music ever. Especially after they jettisoned Dave Mustaine. It’s like three robots got together and decided to make the most robotic music they could think of.

    “Daneel Olivaw’s Magical Music Jamboree”

  18. I was a Metallica fan until they started sucking.

    Which if I recall was well before Napster.

  19. Metalica killed heavy metal. Before Metalica the British metal bands like Judas Priest and Iron Maiden and Black Sabath a small sense of pop melody and style about them for all of the goth darkness. Metalica took all of that away from metal and replaced it with some ape banging on drums and some long haired moron garfing up a hairball. It is all crap. Spinal tap was a better band. At least they garfed up hairballs with a sense of humor.

  20. The most basic principle of any democracy is that of majority rule, with minority rights running a clear but close second.

    Were I on his jury, I’d vote the death sentence for that alone.

  21. Metalheads are immune to polearm damage. It’s a class bonus.

    What if i summon the World Maggot and have it eat him?

  22. Bastard of Muppets err… Master of Puppets still holds up as an album, but then I grew under the horrible yoke of hair metal, so anything was better than that.

  23. The Deathclaw Gauntlet ignores all armor when dealing damage.

  24. Then Metallica better beware when playing Old Olney.

  25. It’s funny that no one has defended Metallisuck. That speaks volumes.

  26. Ska,

    But how else will they get the Prototype Medic Power Armor? There’s no way those idiots will be able to assemble a Dart Gun. Unless they can find the nearby Alien Blaster…

  27. >That guy has an incredibly punchable face, >glasses or no.

    How about a nice California lemon meringue pie in his face? Not exactly original, but it would be fun, I think…

  28. Just download the Operation: Anchorage DLC, and then you get an invincible set of Winterized T-51b Power Armor and a Chinese Stealth Suit. You’ll never get killed again.

  29. “Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote.”
    –Benjamin Franklin

    I don’t think Ben Franklin would have said this. And if he did, he was probably drunk.

  30. I’ll defend Metallica all day long. Their work through Master of Puppets is top notch. Master of Puppets itself is the finest Metal album of all time. (Rounding out the top 5 in no order are Slayer- Reign in Blood, Iron Maiden- Iron Maiden, Judas Priest- British Steel, Black Sabbath -Paranoid.)

    Discuss

  31. Majority Rule, er I mean ballot box budgeting is what got us in this trouble in the first place. What a douche. I’m with Tulpa on the individual rights thing.

  32. I still maintain that …And Justice For All is the best Metallica album, audible bass or no.

  33. Ha ha, you fools fell for my little trap. Metallica is indefensible!

  34. First off all, the medic power armor is overrated.

    Secondly, you can move/stealth pretty well and get very good damage resistance from the Ranger Battle Armor (+1 Luck, +10 small guns, +5 AP) or Lag Bolt’s Combat Armor (can’t remember all the stat bonuses but they’re not bad at all, I think like +10 AP, for example). Plus they’re both easy and cheap to repair. They both offer much better DR than stealth/recon armor and, at the same time, are *much* lighter then heavy armor. In other words, they are in many respects the two best all-around armor sets in the game.

    With either of those two armor sets, there’s no need to carry a set of heavy armor + stealth armor and have to switch back and forth between the two types of armor.

    Personally, I prefer the Ranger Battle Armor overall, but will probably be going with only the Chinese Stealth Armor for the Mothership Zeta DLC, when it comes out next month.

    And yes you can still get killed even with the winterized armor. You just don’t need to ever repair it, which is pretty sweet.

  35. My current strategy is to use the CSA for myself and give the T-51b armor and Vengeance to Star Paladin Cross, or just have Fawkes.

  36. all the stereotypes about libertarians confirmed, right here on one thread! well done, gentlemen.

  37. “Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote.”
    –Benjamin Franklin

    Ben Franklin Kicks AS*!

  38. Face it. You live in hell.

  39. ‘nough said

  40. edna | July 23, 2009, 1:40pm | #
    all the stereotypes about libertarians confirmed, right here on one thread! well done, gentlemen.

    No one has mentioned Dune until now. Now it is a perfect Libertarian thread. Please no soiling with references to the Gene Rodenberry abomination, or I’ll cry like wee halfling with a broken lock pick.

  41. It is, in every sense of the word, a shame that things had to come to this.

    It HAD to come to this.

  42. you can’t eat me, i’ve got level iii winter armor and a bfg9000. and 16,000 bonus life points.

  43. I will proudly proclaim my love of the three great Metallica albums: Ride The Lightning, Master of Puppets, and …And Justice For All, but after the Black album, they have produced nothing but choke-on-cock suckitude.

    So, maybe we can all agree that an appropriate punishment for petty tyrant Meyerson would be forced listening to Metallica’s Load album for many endless hours, all while being forced to view the bloody cum that is the album’s cover art. That’ll learn him.

  44. I prefer the Ranger Armor myself. Also, the unique Hockey Mask you get at the Red Racer Factory is sweet. +25 AP and it never needs to be repaired.

  45. From politics to cottage cheese, anything bearing the “California style” deserves to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.

    Of course those little curds are seriously difficult to get out of the treads of your shoes, so maybe you should just throw it out.

  46. I’m sure the vast majority of Californians don’t even know who Meyerson is, let alone care what he thinks.

    People like him are only concerned with “majority rights” when they are in the majority.

  47. The Deathclaw Gauntlet ignores all armor when dealing damage.

    As does the Man-Opener from the Pitt.

    I like the Ranger armor for general mucking about, but if I know I’m going to have to go in hot, I’m all about the T-51b.

  48. The most basic principle of any democracy is that of majority rule, with minority rights running a clear but close second.

    Idiot.

    Either their are individual rights which are inviolate and beyond the reach of majority rule, or there are not.

    No middle ground is admitted.

  49. Either their are individual rights which are inviolate and beyond the reach of majority rule, or there are not.

    And who determines the extent of those rights?

  50. And who determines the extent of those rights?

    “Don’t hurt other people and don’t steal their stuff” doesn’t take a towering legal mind to figure out.

    Everything else can be negotiated.

  51. Either theirthere are individual rights which are inviolate and beyond the reach of majority rule, or there are not.

    And who determines the extent of those rights?

    (please forgive the editing, I blush)

    Damn good question.

    And one that doesn’t change the fact that Mr Meyerson’s line is ill thought out: if majority rule comes first there is no room for individual liberty.

    Towards an answer to your question: history and a lot of spilt blood suggest that property, and self defense are tantamount. Self expression, a hand in the political process, and due process are part and parcel of maintaining a civil society. And because we don’t know how to run Libertopia in the real world, a free, civil, constitutional Replublic is the best thing we’ve tried to date.

    Your guess is as good as mine from there.

    Or you can go with SugarFree’s pithy version.

  52. As long as I “Don’t hurt other people and don’t steal their stuff”, I have complete freedom of action and thought.

    The only restriction I am willing to tolerate to the “freedom of action” is a State whose ONLY purpose is to help me defend myself from people who want to hurt me or steal my stuff.

    The only problem we have now is that that State I was willing to tolerate has now become the primary “hurter” and “stealer” in our society. So, the anarchists say: “See, we told you so!”

  53. It’s amazing how easily people confuse constitutional representative government and democratic mob rule.

    The first protects basic rights for all men, including minorities. The second protects no one’s rights, except for the brief moments when a fickle mob likes them.

  54. Michael Ejercito, must be your first time. Glad to see the cherry popped.

    The idea of fundamental individual rigths is very simple and VERY old. A right is the ultimate personal authority to perform some act. Period. Now, before we go off all half cocked, each of those words is very important so let us break it down:

    A – an article in the English language (kinda important and denoting singular)

    right – what we are defining

    is – conjugation of the verb “to be”

    the – another damn article…maybe we should get rid of those.

    ultimate – as in the only, the top, the highest, etc.

    personal – for only the person and no others

    authority – ability plus responsibility makes authority

    to – preposition, they denote relationships

    perform – execute, do, make happen, or get a boner…that last is usually not related to this discussion

    some – an adjective, denoting quantity

    act – series of things being done, actions, part of a play.

    so, lets review.

    A right is anything you can do that does not affect the same in another. “Don’t hurt other people and don’t steal their stuff” is sufficient for most but the newly initiated to freedom need to have it spelled out.

    p.s. Put a LoneWako type disclaimer here for any grammar/typing NAZIs (it is 5 pm for craps sake)…But I do welcome critques on the breakdown.

  55. OK technically “to perform” is an infinitive.

    in before those damn grammar goose steppers.

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