Zombie Cultists get a temporary pass

There was welcome news yesterday, when word broke out of San Diego that midyear revenue adjustments would result in ‘just’ $80 million in budget cuts for California’s K-12 programs. Schools had been facing a worst case scenario involving $1.5 billion in trigger cuts, which would have devastated education programs and provided perhaps the most stark shock doctrine moment of Governor Brown’s tenure thus far.

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Understandably, local news outlets scrambled to justify months of breathless coverage. In the process, coverage hit on the systemic problem despite barely alluding to it: Californians across the board — media included — are collectively complicit in building a budgeting structure that is incapable of providing funding for the most basic of service levels. From suicide-pact tax-pledgers to ballot-box budgeting to the 2/3 requirement for new state revenue, the state cannot function, and as a result neither can much else. Dodging the particular K-12 bullet this month does little to change the underlying problem, and we can see it across the board.

In-home care for the elderly and disabled is staring down a 20 percent funding cut, a recipe for devastating tens of thousands of our most helpless and vulnerable through perverse victim-blaming. At local schools, the achievement gap for poor and minority students is yawning ever wider, raising moral (if not yet legal) questions about equal opportunity. That’s just this year. Next year, the same cut-through-the-bone problems will persist. And while we’re at it, the only reason that schools more or less dodged the bullet this year is because the state is devastating libraries, child care, school buses, UC, Cal State, and Community Colleges instead. You know, to prepare a workforce ready for all those 21st-century jobs that only require a high school education?

But there still isn’t a clear denunciation of the perpetrators making it into the public discourse. The zombie cults that have overthrown one of the two major parties are exclusively responsible but not yet being forced to answer for the consequences. Refusing to fund these most basic services at a functional level is not just a point on which there is partisan division. It is the avowed platform of Republicans running to serve in the state legislature, and the infrastructure foisting them on the rest of the state. It makes or breaks a campaign, and it makes or breaks the future electoral prospects of any Republican incumbent hoping to ever be elected again. It is the existential reason stated by Republicans for being in the legislature at all. At the end of the day, that matters way more than partisan affiliation. It’s about whether our parents, our children, ourselves, will live and die in preventable misery or not.

And oh by the way, if you’re concerned about waste and abuse (eg local austerity zombie cultist Joel Anderson), creating an ever-increasing underclass of the life-or-death desperate is probably not the most effective strategy for compelling folks to straighten up and fly right. And no matter how amazing the new schemes to eliminate the mostly-imagined boogeyman of corrupted safety nets may turn out to be, the ongoing funding cuts to law enforcement — resulting in an increasingly desperate staffing challenge — probably doesn’t recommend transferring graft to the private sector. Heck, it isn’t like relying on those “job creators” has really worked out so far… they stepping up — even when there’s a $150 million government subsidy on the table. It’s almost like tax breaks aren’t as useful as… you know… customers?

We know exactly what the results are — and 60% already support We know exactly what the results are — and 60% already support the Governor’s proposal to start raising the revenue needed to pay for basic services.

There are several unofficial ‘starts’ to campaign season. One of them is January 1st of an election year, which you can just about see on your calendars right now. Anyone who’s able to run on continuing these suicidal cuts-into-oblivion should be held mercilessly to account. Those who have the opportunity or professional obligation to do so and don’t are complicit. And if we let it happen, well… we get what we deserve.

by Lucas O’Connor

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