Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Posts Tagged ‘Proposition 13

Saturday Night Links

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* The Guardian has a large special section on SF this weekend, of which the Iain Banks piece I linked yesterday was only a taste.

* Popular in my Facebook newsfeed this weekend: Scientists cure cancer, but not capitalism. (Update: see the comments for some debunking.)

* Another must-read post from zunguzungu about the intergenerational war on higher ed.

Did California college students and parents suddenly and abruptly get exuberantly irrational about higher education starting in 1980? Or did Californians simply pass Proposition 13 in 1978, permanently destroying California’s ability to raise the tax revenues necessary to support itself? I think the latter is actually pretty much the whole story. After 1978, the state’s tax base went down substantially, so less money was available for public universities, and so tuition prices went up. This was the choice that was made, and we are now seeing its completely predictable and rational consequences: to pay for a sizable decrease in property taxes, the state of California has dismantled what was once the greatest and most egalitarian system of public higher education in the world. To put it another way, the price of giving tax breaks to people who are wealthy enough to benefit from lower property taxes has meant that the nearly-free education that primarily poor and middle class families were once able to take advantage of, now, is mostly gone.

* Five signs your Republican governor wants to be president. Early detection is the best protection.

* Disney Trademarks “Seal Team 6.″ This will be adorable.

* And Huck says no. Why, Huck, why?

The End of California?

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…in n+1.

All the conditions that nurtured a powerful left in California have virtually disappeared. Today, the educational plans of the Sixties administrators read like fables, while California’s legendary liberal consensus has unraveled to the extent that no Orange County conservative would identify with the Ronald Reagan who, as governor, signed into law the largest tax increase in California’s history. The collapse of California’s education system is the sign of California’s collapse more generally. At the time of this writing, the state has an official unemployment rate of 12.3 percent (as high as 18-19 percent in some rural counties), and a budget deficit — even after two years of savage cuts — of $19.1 billion, with no solution to either problem in sight. 

Fiscal crises, due to a careless article of the state’s 1879 constitution that requires a two-thirds majority for the passage of any budget, are familiar to Californians, but the current situation transcends all that. A crisis at least suggests a possible transformation; California’s problems seem terminal. Confidence — the attitude my shallow, beaming state supposedly lacks least — has all but disappeared. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger (a trio of words it still pains me to write) enjoys approval ratings of 22 percent; approval of the Democrat-controlled legislature has reached a historic low of 9 percent. People have finally begun to believe in “bad luck.” California remains a harbinger for the country; only now it has come to represent not progress and creativity but social immobility, ecological catastrophe, and legislative hopelessness.

Written by gerrycanavan

February 14, 2011 at 2:29 am