Laymen’s Guide to the Truth about California

For the average person it is hard to figure out the ruckus over government deficits. Everyone seems to be an expert who has their favorite facts that support their conclusion. The biggest problem I have with experts is that there are so many of them and they all come up with different conclusions. Recently I was amused to read Is California’s Decline Just More Right-Wing Propaganda? by Tim Cavanaugh  which he wrote in response to the article, The truth about California by Brett Arends. So many experts, so little consensus. For a person in Ohio who finds it very hard to figure out what the local governments are doing, it seems foolish to compete with these experts but it may be reasonable to develop a laymen’s guide to the Truth about California. Even though I live in Ohio I understand that the importance of California to Ohio and the rest of the country. It is hard to ignore the plight of the eighth largest economy in the world and naively assume that the problems on the west coast will stay there. So I decided to back off from the more esoteric economic facts and dwell on the simple facts that the average person can understand.

  1. Late Payment Fact: Is California issuing IOUs or paying its vendors over 90 days late?
  2. Selling the Family Jewels Fact: Is California is selling off state assets or laying off people in some of its politically favored programs?
  3. Can We Tell the Truth Fact: Is California calling special sessions for legislators to rework the budget they just passed?
  4. Civil Unrest Fact: Are they rioting in the streets?

Although some may argue that this overly simplifies California’s issues we can express some faint praise about California’s plight since it has not issued IOUs this year. On the other hand the latest budget appears to be selling some family jewels and antagonizing some politically well connected constituencies. Despite these revenue raising and cost cutting measures, Governor Schwarzenegger recently asked for a special legislative session to rework the budget. This sounds like more layoffs to politically well connected constituencies. Although it would be premature to expect to see demonstrations against the recent budget cuts, none of this bodes well for the United States as California cranks up its austerity program.