"No matter how paranoid or conspiracy-minded you are, what the government is actually doing is worse than you imagine." - - - William Blum

July 20, 2009

An example of why California government needs major reform:

"....The consequences of program cuts are easily seen. Eliminating the Poison Control System, for example, means that people calling the emergency number (many of whom don't need to see a doctor based on poison accidentally swallowed) will instead go to the ER, and many of those visits will be from people on Medi-Cal, leading to higher costs. Cutting adult day care will send many into nursing homes, at a higher cost to the state. Losing Cal Works welfare funding will send children into foster care, at a higher cost. Cutting the meager drug treatment and vocational training in prisons almost assures an even higher recidivism rate, at a higher cost.

"This is not a difficult calculation to make. We fund social services programs not only because we have an obligation in a developed society not to see people dying on the street, but because we can create programs that get people back to self-sufficiency at a lower overall cost. There is only one reason not to fund such programs - because an arrogant and entitled right wing refuses to fund these government obligations in the short term, preferring apparently to pay more in the long term. There has been enough money in the last few budgets to produce massive corporate tax cuts, but not enough to get someone with a chemical dependency the treatment he or she needs. There's been enough money to protect California's unique status as the only oil-producing state not to charge corporations for taking our natural resources out of the ground, but not enough to provide long-term care services that relieve the burden of nursing home funding over the long term. There's enough money to keep in place useless enterprise zones that create nothing but tax giveaways, but not enough to keep the state from becoming the first in the nation to put poor kids on a waiting list for affordable health insurance.

"We hear about the "generous social services programs" in California that simply had to be cut, but they've been reduced to the point where they are almost unanimously the worst in the nation. That depresses the business climate, that moves bodies out of the state, that alienates the public. And Arnold Schwarzenegger knows this, and he did it anyway, to keep a promise to what little of his base he has left.

"Ultimately, this system isn't designed to produce good budgets. Without a media that cares, no amount of activism or public pressure can be brought to bear on a shameless and unaccountable minority. If you need proof of the need for a complete rethinking of how to structure government in California in the 21st century, look at the last seven months....."

- - - David Dayen

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