Immolation State Style
I follow business news. I'm interested in the budget because my job depends on California pulling itself together and figure out how to keep the ship sailing. As the saying goes, when California sneezes, the rest of the country catches a cold. California's current budget was never a cure. It wasn't even a fix. It was a layaway plan, and the bill for that is due next year.
By conservative measures, California is looking at a $22 billion deficit. Part of this is left over from the past budget. Part of it is all new misery. All of it points to a potential disaster that will have a huge ripple effect on the rest of the country.
There are some obvious, though ugly solutions to the problem. One of those is, of course, the decriminalization and taxation of pot. One of the less ugly ones, and one that will be fun, is getting rid of our governor. His thick-headed way of dealing with California's financial woes (which ultimately come down to putting the burden on the poor as it usually does) has taken a once thriving contributor to the nation's financial well being and has turned it into a joke.
In interest of full disclosure, my job depends upon the California budget. I want to see it fixed not only for my own job safety (layoffs and privatization are just two of the solutions I am looking at), but for the good of the country. This isn't Rhode Island going bankrupt. It's California. If memory serves right, we used to be the fifth largest economy in the world. Now? We don't even rate.
2009 was stressful. 2010 is looking to in full panic attack mode. The politicians, at least some of the ones I've seen interviewed, acknowledge this. They are scared because elections are times where their inaction comes out. They also realize that acting sooner rather than later is prudent. Most likely, though, they won't act until it is far too late. Problem is, it already is too late.
Black Friday is approaching. The talking heads on the business news networks are saying they are optimistic about consumer spending. They say this in order to keep consumer confidence from tanking. California, like every other state, stands to benefit in tax dollars if Black Friday is a "success." That optimism is unwarranted, though, as there is nothing in the numbers that says this will a busy shopping season. With unemployment rising, nobody wants to spend money ... and who can blame them?
California's not sneezing. It's got the full-on flu, and if you think your state is safe, you haven't been paying attention.