Monday, June 1, 2009

California to be Shocked?

The New York Times shines a light on the future of California:

In a special election on May 19, voters rejected a batch of measures on increasing taxes, borrowing funds and reapportioning state money that were designed to close a multibillion-dollar budget gap. The cuts Mr. Schwarzenegger has proposed to make up the difference, if enacted by the Legislature, would turn California into a place that in some ways would be unrecognizable in modern America: poor children would have no health insurance, prisoners would be released by the thousands and state parks would be closed.

Nearly all of the billions of dollars in cuts the administration has proposed would affect programs for poor Californians, although prisons and schools would take hits, as well.

This isn't exactly what Naomi Klein talks about in the best-seller The Shock Doctrine -- right wing governments pushing privatization and cuts in social services at the height of catastrophes -- because the voters did get a chance to vote on some weak but available tax increases and (foolishly) rejected them.

As a result, Schwarzenegger, an old disciple of the free market-at-any-cost economist Milton Friedman, has decided to play out his right wing fantasies with the state, taking aim at health insurance for poor kids, state parks (in the country's most beautiful state), and other public goods.

The only upside I see is that this might be the final stake through the Republican heart in California, but it'll come at a high price.