January 2, 2010
-- by Dave Johnson
This post originally appeared at Speak Out California
You hear it over and over again from California conservatives, "Cut taxes and cut spending," and "government spending is too high."
So what does this mean to YOU? How does this affect your life?
Simple answer, cutting spending means that your schools, roads, police and fire protection, lines at the DMV, parks, environment, food safety inspections, services to help small businesses and courts all deteriorate. It means that it costs more - much more - for you to send your kids to college. That is what "cut government spending" means.
And in spite of what you think, their promise of cutting taxes rarely means your taxes. There is a huge concentration of income and wealth at the very top, which means that tax cuts really mostly benefit the very, very wealthy. Even the well-known Prop 13, thought of as helping homeowners, shifted the tax burden from the corporate owners of commercial property to middle class citizens. From, Corporate loopholes make Prop. 13 crippling for state:
Thirty years ago, commercial property owners contributed 59 percent of property tax revenues and residential property owners contributed 41 percent. Today, we see a virtual flip: commercial property owners contributed just 43 percent of property taxes in 2008, while residential property owners contributed 57 percent.
Another thing you constantly hear are calls to cut the number of government employees and their benefits. If you think about it, layoffs and pay cuts for government workers (teachers, police, firefighters, road workers, etc.) translates into increasing pressure to cut your own wages as well, plus it means fewer customers for California's small businesses, fewer teachers in our schools, increased crime rates, etc. Cutting their benefits means that your own benefits come under pressure as well.
Conservatives promising that cutting taxes and spending are good for you have held sway for the last few decades. They are always promising that tax cuts will make things better for regular people. But they haven't gotten better. The real tax burden keeps shifting further and further away from the wealthy and powerful and onto the backs of the middle class. Meanwhile the things that our government does for us are reduced and reduced, so life gets harder.
The lesson to learn is: glowing promises of a free lunch usually mean that you are the lunch.
Posted by Dave Johnson at January 2, 2010 10:02 AM
When people want to cut government employees, they may be thinking of the Mayor's six "assistants" or the directors of departments that nobody knows what they actually do. But these people are politically positioned to protect their jobs. The little guys have no protection and, as you point out, are the ones to go.
Reagan claimed to have cut government. What he actually did is to get rid of a bunch of local Federal offices and to consolidate all of the power in Washington. In the 60s and 70s, the FCC office in New Orleans was the final authority in their region. After Reagan, all decisions came from Washington and were increasingly being made by lawyers instead of engineers. I suspect that the same thing will happen in California, if it isn't the case now.
All the decisions will be made in Sacramento by people who are in a position to protect their jobs. And if you have to wait a while for your State services, nobody in Sacramento will care.
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