Publisher’s ink: California politics according to Einstein

By November 16, 2010


News that our state’s budget deficit has now topped the $25 billion mark shouldn’t come as a surprise. Legislators have been avoiding addressing any real changes in cash outflow as they hoped the state’s economy would somehow magically bounce back and the coffers would be flush again with tax revenues.

Neither of the candidates for governor fully explained just how they would cut the budget for fear of losing votes. But that really doesn’t matter much anymore. The voters have spoken and we’re about to relive the bad dream of 30 years ago.

It was Albert Einstein who said the definition of insanity is “Doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.” Californians haven’t learned this valuable lesson. For not only did they re-elect Jerry “Moonbeam” Brown for another episode of “As the State Turns” but also sent Barbara “Don’t call me Ma’am” Boxer back to Washington, D.C., for a fourth stint as U.S. senator.

History oftentimes repeats itself. People have short memories and over time they tend to forget the pain and suffering of past administrations. While George W. Bush was steadfast in his mission at keeping America safe from terrorism he let the economy suffer. Of course he did sound the alarm of impending Fanny Mae and Freddy Mac problems that led up to the financial meltdown but why split hairs. Ask anyone if they’re better off today than they were five or eight years ago. As I recall, the unemployment rate was barely 5 percent, gas was cheap and life was good.

As for the California economy, we’re now staring at a $25.4 billion budget deficit and unemployment of 12.4 percent. And the recent state budget took 100 days to pass because …? Another of Einstein’s quotes could sum up our mess when he said, “He who joyfully marches to music in rank and file has already earned my contempt. He has been given a large brain by mistake, since for him the spinal cord would suffice.”

With the number of state positions and union control at risk it wasn’t a surprise voters opted to return the same folks back to the state Capitol. State government like the federal government is broke. And if Uncle Arnold still believes Uncle Sam is going to bail out California then he’s smoking too many of those funny cigarettes.

Why should the other 49 states bail us out? It’s our budget crisis – not theirs. And now with Democrats no longer controlling the purse strings in the House of Representatives there’s little chance California will see any financial relief aid. California has voted to stick with the status quo and likely pushed any chance of recovery back three years or more.

State legislators refuse to chop the budget for fear of killing off any sacred cows (and votes). County government, on the other hand, is making hard decisions to stave off red ink. Citizens want results. They expect their elected leaders to lead. Or as Albert Einstein said, “People love chopping wood. In this activity one immediately sees results.”

As for state government it will take more than chopping a few programs here and there. So now everyone awaits Jerry’s circus train to roll into Sacramento. Watch for his announcement to turn off the heat in the statehouse in an attempt to turn up the heat on legislators. And try to restrain yourself when he stands on his soap box to declare taxes must be raised and then lists his reasons why. Remember, this is the guy who admitted the last time he was governor he had no plan on how to govern the state. And that “campaign promises are meant to be broken.”

Here, Einstein’s words are most befitting when he said, “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” This includes the repeat performance of Brown and the other lifetime politicians racking up pension time in state and federal government.

In any event, break out the peanuts and popcorn because the main attraction will be in the center ring as our master of ceremonies entertains those of us with and without brains for the next four years.

Richard Esposito

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