Government Spending

Los Angeles Times Now Favors Rule By Robots


Most men have to pay to be beaten to a pulp by the female Terminator.

Defenders of a politician's right to spend have been abandoning the trenches and quietly fleeing for much of this year. To its credit, the Los Angeles Times editorial board has chosen to acknowledge clearly and publicly that out-of-control spending, not insufficient tax revenue, is suffocating the Golden State.

In fact, one of the best metaphors ever to spring from the perspicacious pen of the ed board has now been retired. When Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2008 was seeking to introduce automatic spending caps and larger rainy-day funds, the Times invoked the Terminator franchise to argue against what it viewed as an infringement of the legislature's discretion to make budget decisions:

The Budget Stabilization Act nearly removes the human element from self-government. It is budgetary Skynet, marketed as a program smarter than the people it supposedly serves but destined to strip from people the benefits, as well as the burdens, of financial decision-making. A better future for California will come when voters and elected officials begin to make tough choices, not when they shrug their shoulders and relinquish their power to a budget machine.

Now, however, the Times concedes that it is "putting aside [its] past reluctance" and conceding the necessity of automated budgeting:

The state must continue to invest in the social welfare of its people, but we must do it in accordance with California's projected growth so that we do not repeatedly yank from the young, the elderly and the poor the very services that we provided only a year or two before.

Don't think this means the paper will now be getting worked up about excessive taxation of Californians. Today's long editorial contains a call for "rational governmental restructuring" that includes the Free Spenders' longstanding goal of allowing the legislature to pass budgets with a straight majority rather than the currently required two-thirds majority. It also accuses Proposition 13—the 1978 property-tax-restricting measure—of helping to "defund government." (Here's a reminder of how, decades after Prop 13's passage, this same defunded government managed to grow its budget by more than 40 percent over a period of five years.) But it's a welcome acknowledgment that the only way to get a balanced budget is to stop spending.

Today's editorial. The original Skynet piece. And here is a thoughtful unpacking of the Skynet metaphor—as well as a Ph.D.-worthy thesis on free will and predestination in the Terminator movies — from the incomparable Robert Greene.


NEXT: California's Long Beach Contemplates A Special Tax on Medical Pot

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  1. Each of us, should do anything we can, to reduce tax revenue.

  2. “the Los Angeles Times editorial board has chosen to acknowledge clearly and publicly that out-of-control spending, not insufficient tax revenue, is suffocating the Golden State.”

    Shit. Just. Got. Real.


  4. The notion that a supermajority requirement protects against bloated government budgets is about as sound and logical as medical leech-bleeding.

    Wherever supermajorities are required for budgeting, the supermajorities are not obtained by acceding to austere and realistic budget hawks; they are obtained by bloating up the spending on influential lobbying groups.

    In California, the majority has had to buy the votes of the minority, year after year, by bloating up spending on schools, cops, prisons and whatnot — and when enough public employees and contractors finally get greased, the budget passes.

    Why would anyone expect an overpowered minority to govern any more responsibly than a simple majority? Where is the rational connection?

    1. You may be right. I’m just suspicious about the near-total overlap of the pro-simple-majority subset with the raise-taxes subset. I’d just like to hear somebody make the case that simple-majority will actually reduce the tax burden rather than the case that it will allow “responsible” budgeting.

      1. Let them do it. Let them spend the state into oblivion.

        Then let them reap the consequences. The Democrats will cripple the party for two generations if given half the chance. And the people of this state need to be taught a very severe lesson.

        I really don’t see another way.

        1. I used to believe this. But frankly, I don’t want to pay for their mistake, because California is Too Big To Fail(tm) and as a result, all of their problems will be kicked upstairs to the federal level.

          And if you think for a minute that California’s ongoing failures are taken as a lesson from states like Washington or Oregon or heck, any other state in the Union, you’re sadly mistaken. Mention California’s budget woes, and 98% of the local pols mumble something about Proposition 13 and vow to make sure “nothing like that happens here”.

        2. There are too many Mexican-American citizens in California for Republicans to ever win state-wide again. Maybe if another movie star moderate runs.

          Prop 187 made a whole heck of a lot of legal Mexican-Americans in California citizens so they could vote against the Republicans, and made a lot of not-voting Mexican-Americans US citizens start voting to do the same.

          On a related note, I predict Arizona will soon be a very blue state.

  5. In fact, one of the best metaphors ever to spring from the perspicacious pen of the ed board has now been retired.

    So who was responsible Tim…you or Matt?

  6. That blond chick terminator was wicked hot. Even if she is a robot, I’d do her. BTW, I voted for all of Arnie’s special election initiatives, and like most things I vote for, they lost. It wasn’t long after that Arnie gave up on real fiscal discipline, started squawking about being Obama’s environment czar or some such bs. Governator, if you read this, please refer back to the intro you filmed for Milton Friedman’s Free to Choose video series. That’s the Arnie we need to see.

  7. Wow, this really makes a lot of sense to me dude. I like it a lot.


  8. I really want to see California take a beating as an example to other states, but I guarantee that if that happens the feds will bail them out, which is the exact opposite example I want to see.

    1. I say let them ask for a bailout. Let’s see Congress deal with this while everyone from 49 other states all of a sudden realizes what they are committing to, especially the 35 or so states that are being somewhat responsible with their budgets. I hope NY fails, too, and I live in NY.


    This is the opening that Anon-bot has been waiting for!!

    1. Could Anon-bot be from the future?

      What is his message for us?

      1. Die?

        1. I’ve been afraid to try the link, but I know his name is Lou.

          His name is Lou!
          His name is Lou!
          His name is Lou!

          1. Hi everyone!

      2. Not sure, but it appears to involve “LOL<“

      3. The California, The

  10. A California bailout will have a tough time getting through a Republican Congress.

    Unfortunately, the Repubs will definitely bail out “their” states, and there are enough of them in trouble to make a(nother) nation-wide bailout a near certainty, IMO.

    State tax revenues everywhere are in the shitter, and really show few prospects of improving much if at all. The budget cycle now being teed up is epically bad in all but a few states. The pressure for some kind of bailout will be hunormous, and if there’s one thing Our Masters aren’t good at, its withstanding pressure to spend money.

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