Jerry Brown and the "pale horse of death"


Era of Limits II

California has a new old governor. Here's some of what the always-interesting Jerry Brown said during yesterday's swearing-in ceremonies:

In seeking the Office of Governor, I said I would be guided by three principles.

First, speak the truth. No more smoke and mirrors on the budget. No empty promises.

Second, no new taxes unless the people vote for them.

Third, return—as much as possible—decisions and authority to cities, counties and schools, closer to the people.

With your help, that is exactly what I intend to do. The budget I present next week will be painful, but it will be an honest budget. The items of spending will be matched with available tax revenues and specific proposals will be offered to realign key functions that are currently spread between state and local government in ways that are complex, confusing and inefficient. My goal is to achieve greater accountability and reduce the historic shifting of responsibility back and forth from one level of government to another. The plan represents my best understanding of our real dilemmas and possibilities. It is a tough budget for tough times. […]

Choices have to be made and difficult decisions taken. At this stage of my life, I have not come here to embrace delay or denial.

I'm a Brown softy, but it was a pretty good speech, filled with generous nods to California history/exceptionalism, semi-poetic interludes, and a winking yet respectful acknowledgment of the Zen Fascist's considerable Daddy issues. Most importantly, Brown continues to lay the rhetorical groundwork for a kind of long overdue shock therapy when it comes to tackling the Golden State's fantastical approach to public policy. Unfortunately (as he also points out in the speech), we've been down that road before, too.

Including in 1979, when, in the wake of Proposition 13, it had finally become clear to California's political class that voters were no longer tolerating the Sacramento/Spring Street status quo. Back then Gov. Moonbeam was singing an anti-government tune you barely hear from Republicans anymore, let alone Democrats. Let's listen in:

It was a more literal time

Why the anti-government mood? I asked this same question four years ago and now I believe I understand.  Simply put, the citizens are revolting against a decade of political leaders who righteously spoke against inflation and excessive government spending but who in practice pursued the opposite course.

It is in this fundamental contradiction between what political leaders have said in their anti-inflation and anti-spending speeches and what they have actually done in their fiscal policies that we find the cause of today's political malaise. The ordinary citizen knows that government contributes to inflation and that runaway inflation is as destructive to our social wellbeing as an invading army. […]

There is much to learn about the unprecedented primary vote and victory of Proposition 13.  Not the least of which is that the established political union, and corporate powers are no match for an angry citizenry recoiling against an inflationary threat to their homes and pocketbooks.

While it is true that the tax revolt has increased the privileges of the few, it has without question inspired the hopes of many.  Plain working people, the poor, the elderly, those on fixed incomes, those who cannot keep up with each new round of inflation or protect themselves from each subsequent round of recession, these are the people who are crying out for relief.

But in their name and in the name of misfortune of every kind, false prophets have risen to advocate more and more government spending as the cure – more bureaucratic programs and higher staffing ratios of professional experts.  They have told us that billion dollar government increases are really deep cuts from the yet higher levels of spending they demand and that attempts to limit the inflationary growth of government derive not from wisdom but from selfishness.  That disciplining government reflects not a care for the future but rather self-absorption.  These false prophets, I tell you, can no longer distinguish the white horse of victory from the pale horse of death. […]

It is time to get off the treadmill, to challenge the assumption that more government spending automatically leads to better living.  The facts prove otherwise.  More and more inflationary spending leads to decline abroad and decadence at home.  Ultimately it will unwind the social compact that forms the basis of our society.

Jesse Walker on "the five faces of Jerry Brown" from 2009. Tim Cavanaugh two months ago on Sacramento Über Alles. And a Chris Bray classic from the distant year of 1998.


NEXT: Reason Morning Links: Obama Investigations Slated, States Look To Limit Unions, House GOP Vows Cuts

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  1. I’m a Brown softy…

    Didn’t that win best German Schei?e-porn at the AVN’s a few years back?

    1. CMS wins the thread.

  2. I’m suspending judgement. We’ll see how/what he does. He does seem less bullshitty than your average politician.

    1. I have mixed feelings. He’s not a standard-issue Democrat, which is good, but he periodically ends up in the fever swamps. I remember seeing an interview when he was running for president in which he claimed that a college education was so expensive because there was a conspiracy to keep minorities out. WTF??

  3. So he’s basically the California Eliot Spitzer, minus Ashley Dupree.

    1. I don’t think he’s thrown as many innocent people in prison as Shitzer.

    2. That would also be minus The Sheriff of Wall Street, and minus the fucking steamroller. Big difference.

  4. California has a new old governor.

    How old is he?

    So old he farts dust?

    1. This is not the first time Brown has been California’s governor – hence new old governor.

      1. Yeah, I got that. I just wanted some “he’s so old…” jokes. I even primed the pump.

        1. Why are you so terrible at jokes?

          1. You’re ugly. That’s why.

            1. You’re a towel!

              1. You’re the worst sidekick ever!

                1. I know. (sad face)

                  1. Wanna get high?

        2. gotcha

          here’s one

          He’s so old he should change his last name from Brown to Gray.


          1. Then next year change it from Gray to Bald.

            1. It’s funnier if you skip right to bald – shorter and adds alliteration. “He’s so old he should change his last name from Brown to Bald.”

          2. Which sags lower: Jerry Brown’s balls or his tits?

            1. Moobs for guys, tits for chicks. Keep up, okay?

              1. You’re not the semantic boss of me.

                1. He looks like he stepped out of the grave to take a piss.

          3. Oh, God, not another Gray. Please.

  5. A damn shame Whitman could not win . . . now California is stuck with this lame socialist!

    1. Versus vivacious socialist Whitman?

    2. Whitman ran a stunningly lame and incompetent campaign, despite the tens of millions spent. The fact that Brown can’t print – and increasingly can’t borrow – money means that socialist or not, he’s got to balance the books.

  6. It is time to get off the treadmill, to challenge the assumption that more government spending automatically leads to better living.

    And, of course, we should replace that rusty old treadmill with a shiny new monorail High Speed Train!

    1. Is there a chance the track could bend?

      1. Not on your life my HnR friend.

    2. What about us brain-dead slobs?

  7. “Only Nixon could go to China.”

    1. I miss Tricky Dick.

      1. In the Fringe alternative universe, he got a silver dollar.

        1. One of my favorite details in that show.

          1. And King is on the twenty. What perverse course of events made those two things both happen?

            Other than Walter Bishop’s very existence, of course.

  8. California has a new old governor.

    Linda Ronstadt sure has changed.

  9. “Second, no new taxes unless the people vote for them.”

    Tyranny of the majority!

    1. I thought this too.

      Unless which people vote for new taxes? The one’s who don’t have to pay them?

    2. You’re amazingly insipid. Well done.

  10. I was rooting for Whitman, if only because Moonbeam’s already been tried out there and a strong Whitman campaign would have helped put the pressure on Boxer.

    That said, Brown has been talking a good game so far and circumstances – especially the GOP house and its stated reluctance not to throw a life preserver – will force him to do some good and necessary things that he otherwise would not want or like to do.

  11. And right on cue, here comes the tax increases.…..s-20101230

    “Reporting from Sacramento and Los Angeles ? The new year is set to bring some financial cheer to roughly 11 million Californians in the form of lower state income taxes and fatter paychecks, but some in Sacramento are considering ways to roll back the tax relief, calling it unaffordable for a state staring at a $28-billion deficit.

    Legislators and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger enacted short-term tax hikes on income, sales and vehicles as California struggled to pay its bills in early 2009. The income taxes will be the first to expire, on Jan. 1. The others come off the books at the end of June.

    Some Democratic legislators would like to extend the temporary taxes to help balance the budget. Gov.-elect Jerry Brown is readying a budget plan that would call for a special election to ask voters to extend the soon-to-expire tax hikes, according to people involved in the discussions.

    “I have a hard time seeing that they let go of this revenue,” said Esmael Adibi, director of Anderson Center for Economic Research at Chapman University.

  12. Line up all of the public union leaders, police, fire, teachers, government workers unions. against a wall..all of them. Take out your pistols and shoot the lot of them. Only when this message is received will the “will” of the people be heard. Enough of the unions and their shenanigans. They are the worst form of scum and their removal from the discussion will only help those states suffering from the their antics and actions of the last 50 years.

    1. Hear, hear!

    2. General Tagge:
      Until this battle station is fully operational, we are vulnerable. The Rebel Alliance is too well equipped, they’re more dangerous than you realize.

    3. Alternatively, we can just recognize that public official give up some of their rights when they take the job, and historical experience shows that one of those must be collective bargaining. It’s not unheard of — government officials, even lowly teachers and bureaucrats, lose some of their rights when it comes to espousing religion, and soldiers can’t unionize.

      As for prisec unions, they’re groups of people banded together to control prices. While I think that doesn’t merit a coercive response, the state of the law is that it does for every other form of business, including some where the business owner is basically selling “labor”. So, industry-wide unions need to be broken up under laws banning anti-competitive behavior, or else anti-competitive laws need to be repealed.

  13. I always liked Ambrose Beers’s Suck columns.

  14. I wonder if Biafra sang at the inaugural ball.

  15. Who’s the crossdresser holding up the Bible for Brown?

    1. Anne Gust Brown, his wife. Who was fairly good looking in a Seven Sisters sort of way, until Jerry began draining the life from her in 1990.

      1. You have the worst taste. She looks like Mel from Flight of the Conchords.

        1. Whatever. It’s not my fault the only thing you want to fuck are post-op strippers.

          1. They’re not strippers! They’re “dancers”!

            1. Wait a second. A few months ago Episiarch was ragging on guys who wore Rolexes and Givenchy cologne. So I gotta ask, how do you impress str- …dancers?

              1. Epi works the pole harder than they ever imagined, BP.

              2. Enough said.

              3. Cowhide leather jackets like McCloud in the 70’s worked for me when I footloose, carefree and not pussy whipped. They really love to stroke their nipples against the fabric.

          2. Men with men committing indecent acts (sex in the butt) will receive their penalty for their perversion. Word of the Lord.

        2. She was totally cute.

  16. “At this stage of my life, I have not come here to embrace delay or denial.”

    I am so sick of hearing him talk about my problems as if they were another stage in his life!

    He used to say the same crap about problems in Oakland–as if entrenched poverty in the black community there were just another phase in his personal growth cycle…

    He can start to heal a lot of that hate when he stops treating people and their problems like an opportunity for him to learn something about himself.

    Not everything is about you, Moonbeam.

  17. “First, speak the truth. No more smoke and mirrors on the budget. No empty promises.”

    Not that telling the truth about the budget can be construed as actually doing something about the budget…

    “Second, no new taxes unless the people vote for them.”

    “The people” being, of course, front groups, public worker unions and non-gov organizations.

    “Third, return ? as much as possible ? decisions and authority to cities, counties and schools, closer to the people.”

    “As much as possible” to be determined by yours truly – I mean, what? Do you expect me to advocate anarchy?

  18. I think Jerry should address the Legislature dressed as the Chaplin tramp, complete with pants pockets turned inside out.

  19. “I would be guided by three principles.

    “First, speak the truth. No more smoke and mirrors on the budget. No empty promises.”

    He’s a politician and his lips were moving, therefor he’s lying.

    “Second, no new taxes unless the people vote for them.”

    Yeah, because it’s the LAW. In fact, it’s a law that was put in place because of the unending cycle of tax increases followed by spending increases. And it was voted in during the last term of Governor JERRY BROWN (1978-Prop 13).

    “Third, return?as much as possible?decisions and authority to cities, counties and schools, closer to the people.”

    Read: We will give them all the responsibility and blame, but we’re keeping the money.

    1. Proposition 13 was property taxes. He’s talking about all taxes.

      1. Prop 13 also imposed a super-majority of the legislature for raising taxes. Although I mis-remembered that as voter approval. My bad.

    2. “He’s a politician and his lips were moving, therefor he’s lying.”

      I’m going to have to agree with this one. Especially when it comes to campaign promises and inaugural speeches. Bush said he doesn’t believe in nation building, Obama said he believes in pay-as-you-go. If a politician says something, it’s a safe assumption he’ll do the opposite, unless it’s something you don’t like, then it’s a safe assumption he’ll do it.

  20. Ah, so he mouths nice sounding words before he expands the power of the state. That’s how you like it? A little bit of libertarianesque babble and then a few tolchoks around the gulliver for wanting that libertarianesque kark and you’re okay?

    1. So this is what criticism of libertarianism looks like these days? Wow.

  21. Surely you’re not saying we have the resources To save the poor from their lot?

    There will be poor always, pathetically struggling. Look at the good things you’ve got.

      1. It’s applicable to any thread here.

  22. I’m Governor Jerry Brown
    My aura smiles and never frowns
    Soon I will be President

    Obamapower will soon go way
    I will be Fuhrer one day
    I will command all of you
    Your kids will meditate in school


    –Jello Biafra

  23. Well, Jerry does have a unique positional advantage as the (temporary) heart-throb of the hard lefties in Cali. Whitman could never have been able to pull off the position of “ya know, I absolutely love your karmic radiative and cosmic aura and positions, but we need to re-focus our zen energies to keep from totally screwing the pooch around here” with any credibility.

    I’ll be amazed if he even really does more than try to pull something like that off, but it’s about the only realistic shot he’s got.

  24. Jerry does have a unique positional advantage as the (temporary) heart-throb of the hard lefties in Cali.

    I certainly don’t expect that to get him anywhere when he tells the hyenas in Sacramento they are going to have to make sacrifices, shared or otherwise.

  25. I haven’t seen anything about the 700+ new California laws. Farmers markets now have to accept EBT cards, parents can go to jail if their kids miss too much school. The articles should write themselves but I haven’t seen any. Did all the contributers(wisely) move out of this shitty state and declare it a lost cause?

  26. Brown has been AG for years and done nothing about the fraud in Bell until the LAT forced him to. Brown knows the score but AG Brown would do nothing about the looting of the state. Matt you know Gov Brown will be no better.

  27. Brown has to be expelled from the progressive ranks. People should not be allowed to vote on taxes, because like greedy children, they will always vote against them. When you have a centralized decision maker, such as the government of California, they can decide how much money is necessary to provide a decent quality of life and extract it from their citizenry. The citizens as a whole are unable to vote on what they need and how to fund it. The US electorate has proven that by polling against ObamaCare. The California electorate has proven this by voting against taxes.

    It is time for Brown to take charge and do what is necessary for the state and not get bogged down in technicalities such as considering what the voters think they want.

    1. Relinquish your freedom people, only the politicians know what’s best!

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