[OT Note: I would say something about the Red Hot Chili Peppers just because, but it will have to go in another RHCP-specific post, assuming I get around to it. In the meantime, we'll attempt to deal here with California's Meltdown.]
As we know, California is falling deeper and deeper into perdition. There is no going back.
Well. I'm assuming people all over the world know in grim detail what is going on in California as its government essentially runs out of money and out of time and can't seem to get its groove back.
Things, as they say, fall apart.
But then, of course, I realize that many Americans don't know -- and if they do know, they don't care -- about what's happening to the Golden State. The primary failure of knowledge and interest in what's going on in California seems to be taking place in Washington, DC. I can't get over the image of our representatives and rulers simply paying no attention as California's government in large part collapses.
Things have been falling apart in California for more than a generation, starting when Ronald Reagan took the Corner Office on Jan 1, 1967. That seminal event seems to have been overlooked in all the blame-casting and order-issuing that's going on.
Reagan started California on the path to its anti-progressive present, and once the momentum got under way, there was no stopping it. He started by emptying the state mental hospitals -- and providing few/no other mental health services; he continued by "administering" public education to death; imposing law/n/order (against what was then an uprising of students and Negroes) setting us on the path to the current prison state; he railed against taxation, setting the stage for the later imposition of Proposition 13, cutting property taxes primarily for commercial properties (but incidentally keeping Granny in her home, too).
California's current inability to govern itself comes from the Reaganite dismissal of Progressive California governance, and their eventual destruction of it through various means and methods such as ballot-box bugeting, strict term limits for officeholders, misuse of initiative and recall provisions, and on and on and on and on.
This is what Reaganites and their Libertarian fellow travellers wanted.
California is now a shadow of what it once saw itself as and wanted one day to be, a shining model, an ideal, a way forward for all.
That notion is gone, vanished. Realistically, it ain't coming back.
What's going on now can be characterized as a final assault on the poor and what's left of the middle class, in an effort to force an out-migration from California to... wherever, primarily for the comfort and convenience of the super-rich, who, on their hilltops behind their gates and their walls, seek to live some crabbed and ugly version of what they thought the California Dream might be if they could only get control of it away from those Awful Progressives.
And they are very close to final success.
The Class War? Well, isn't it obvious who's winning?
Of course from down below, the victory of the rich and powerful over everyone else in California will be hollow at best. But so? They still won.
What's happening is causing some of our best remaining thinkers and doers to go all whack on us, calling down Destruction and Despair as the corrective we need to get past the Crisis. But what they don't seem to comprehend is that Destruction and Despair are integral to the Crisis; they don't have to be called upon, and they can't by themselves get us to the correct other side of the Crisis.
People are gonna die. And the "serious" thinkers and doers prove their "seriousness" by looking the deaths of others in the eye and not flinching. It's a Manhood thing. You accept that Death is inevitable and if it comes a little sooner to some folks than it might otherwise (if, say, they continued to receive care or meds paid for by the State), oh well!
Schwarzenegger set the standard in his speech from the thronlet announcing his draconian cuts only budget "solution" in May: Yes, I know you people will die. And I'm very sad about it. Oh well....
Now even so-called Progressives have taken up the cudgel: Yes, people will die, we can't do anything about it, we have to get Democracy restarted in California, that's the only thing that matters. -- a perhaps unfair paraphrase of David Dayden (dday) at Calitics and Digby's who seems to have gone completely off the deep end, seeing the Crisis as Opportunity for some kind of Vast Grassroots Takeover Through Democratic Processes... uh... Comrade. Uh... David... uh... no.
Do we really need more democracy? Not immediately, no.
We've had more than our fill of manipulated (or as some say, "Managed") democracy, and trying to lard a whole (and so far entirely fantasized) Grassroots Democracy on top of it, to solve the Crisis, is both a witches brew and a fool's game.
No, what we need is Intervention; basically direction at the top -- and from outside -- on how, specifically, to get through the current Crisis and the most appropriate means to correct the whole host of missteps and misdirections that have got us to this point.
"Democracy" on its own can't fix what's gone wrong. "Democracy" on its own is what has got us here.
I've said several times in other fora that the absence of Federal involvement and interest in what's happening in California is unconscionable. I believe sincerely that Federal officials should have been integrated into whatever planning was underway (assuming there was any) to deal with the Crisis from the outset, but apparently, there has been little or no interest on the part of the Feds in the California Crisis.
I don't know that on their own the Feds can fix much of anything, but we're in a very, very odd position, with something like $80 billion in Federal Stimulus funds on tap for California, but little or none of it (apparently) can be used to backstop programs that will face draconian (or even modest) cuts. What's up with that? It doesn't make any sense.
How exactly are Stimulus funds to be used at all if the state government can't function due to its partial collapse? It doesn't make any sense.
As California's unemployment rate skyrockets (officially 11.5% as of today, but in many counties it's over 25% and climbing, and the "official" rate doesn't count the "real" number of unemployed and underemployed which is typically double the "official" number) with no sign of stabilization or a turn around any time soon, and no significant jobs program as part of the Stimulus, just how are income taxes supposed to be levied and collected from people who have no income and won't have income any time soon?
Even the legislature's less draconian budget adjustments assume income tax collections from people who are employed, but with employment falling through the floor, just where are these collections going to come from?
This is just a small part of the strangeness that is overcoming good sense in California, and the nearly total failure of institutions to address and deal with the basics of collapse.
So just what is the way forward? Do we just throw up our hands and let the neo-liberal idealists have their way, radically reconfiguring California's present and future along the lines of Louisiana and New Orleans after the Hurricane?
That's what's on tap right now with the efforts of the Governor, the Parsky Commission, California Forward and the Bay Area Council. These are the people and the institutions that are boldly trying to blaze a new path. One that essentially confirms and permanentizes California's descent into the Third World kleptostate of massive wealth at the top supported by immense poverty below.
That's where we're going.
What's the alternative?