This op-ed originally appeared in the Flashreport
If you believe that our state’s influence is waning, take a second look. While California may be declining in economic power, our political muscle is unfortunately being felt in Washington, DC. The brinksmanship, confusion over who is in charge, constantly changing, last minute negotiation of legislation, and the final outcome of the debt ceiling debacle is vintage California hard-core, partisan left, San Francisco politics.
The ultimate outcome depends on what type of government can be sold to the American people. Do we beleive in equal outcomes or equal opportunities? Should we redistribute private wealth or encourage private wealth creation?
Never let a good crisis go to waste, is a key component of the California and DC strategy. At this pivotal time in our nation’s history, the answers to the two questions posed above depend on what you beleive about the 2007 market crash. Was the bubble and subsequent crash caused by unfettered capitalism or political interference and regulation? Depending on your answer, is the solution more market regulation or less government involvment in the markets? Add one very basic question that will have a tremendous impact on our ability to move forward, do we still believe in representative democracy or do we need more direct democracy?
The answers may be straightforward for partisan politicos, but for many “undecided” discouraged with “partisan politics,” struggling to survive the financial fallout, the choices may be less clear. The chaos and pain created by the market crash, enhanced by the 24 hour news cycle, instant messaging, blogosphere, and flood of sound-bite information confuses, frightens and alarms in constant unveiling of doomsday scenarios. Without historical perspective, that doesn’t conform easily into twitters and tweets, who and what to beleive is challenging. Most don’t have the time or the inclination to get to know elected officials personally. And electeds generate polls to see what people want to hear, rather than try to lead them with truths and ideas that must be communicated on a regular basis.
Hence, due to expediency, the uphill battle is on the side of those that promote equal opportunities and private wealth creation vs. those that strive for equal outcomes and redistribution of wealth. Fear and emotion is much easier to stimulate than a reasoned response. Increasing taxes, government giveaways, borrowing and “free-money” is much easier to deliver than assurances of increasing tax revenues through private sector employment, and the continuous benefits of individual responsibility, personal accomplishment and success.
However, we are witnessing in real time on u-tube and in the twitters and tweets, across the nation, the crippling economic results of socialist polities colliding with capitalism. Long on the rise in our Golden State, the socialist paradigm created dependency, instilling a sense of entitlement rather than self-fulfillment. It encouraged class warfare based on relative depravation, and a fear that “the pie will shrink before I get mine.” And our business environment and educational system suffers under attempts to equal outcomes.
Fortunately, using old or new media, historical research or emotional response, the results are visible and predictable. The increasing levels of unsustainable debt and high unemployment in California, is being played out on the national and international scene. The lowering of our nation’s debt rating for the first time in history should be a wake up call, but a credit downgrade of California’s debt has not hindered borrowing or redistibution of wealth through onerous regulation and taxation schemes. Moreover, it has not stopped our Governor, nor does it appear to be hindering the President from attempts to increase employment through government “stimulous” or borrowing for large public works programs, rather than relieving the regulatory and tax burden on private sector employers.
The National debt ceiling debacle was temporarily resolved with more borrowing and future automatic cuts along the same lines as California’s most recent phantom budget fix. The reduction in social programs and Medicare will be to private sector providers, not in numbers of entitled or trimming services covered. As California faces public safety cuts, releasing state prisoners to our counties and streets, at the national level we face decreasing defense spending. Socialism challenges and attempts to redefine the primary and constitutional role of Government and threatens representative democracy, in favor of majority rule by those persons or business entities benefitting from government largesse.
Hopefully the results of current and historical failed policies should provide an easy answer to all those on the fence, attempting to discern which political party to support for 2012. Ideology matters and the choice of which path will lead our country forward should be simple. The debate has historical perspective; the 1960′s, and 1930′s our country took great leaps toward socialism, and made great strides toward free market capitalism shortly thereafter. As California goes, so goes the nation? The undecided will decide.