Guest Opinion: Californians must save themselves | September 10, 2010 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

Spectrum - September 10, 2010

Guest Opinion: Californians must save themselves

by Scott Carlson

Walk around pleasant Palo Alto and you may not know that California has had a nervous breakdown

This story contains 961 words.

Stories older than 90 days are available only to subscribing members. Please help sustain quality local journalism by becoming a subscribing member today.

If you are already a member, please log in so you can continue to enjoy unlimited access to stories and archives. Membership starts at $12 per month and may be cancelled at any time.

Log in     Join

Scott Carlson is a freelance writer who lives in Palo Alto's Lincolnville (Lincoln-Melville) neighborhood with his wife and two children. He can be e-mailed at


Posted by Ano Nymous
a resident of another community
on Sep 10, 2010 at 10:19 pm

We could have saved ourselves 30 years ago, by:
1) Kicking and keeping out the illegals, and
2) Refusing to pay people to have an infinite number of babies on our dime.

Posted by illegal?
a resident of Southgate
on Sep 11, 2010 at 1:04 am

hmmm? let's see. europeans "discovered" the america native americans dwelled in. the question is who is the true illegal? now that's debatable.

Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 11, 2010 at 3:08 am

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

Southgate, what is, is. The game goes on from here. Before Europeans arrived here, land ownership was already up for grabs. If you insist on a redeal of every hand, no game gets played.

Posted by Cynic
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Sep 11, 2010 at 5:34 am

Not too late, we can still turn this Titanic. But, we won't. Too many uninformed voters. I have turned into a cynic.

For example, I am betting Jerry Brown wins this election. He has a "D" after his name and folks are too foolish to vote for anything other than a "D". They won't see his history, and who he is, and what he did before to California. They are presented with a STARK reality, no guessing, no reason to know anything other than the truth..and still they will vote for him because he has a "D" after his name and, maybe a few will even go so far as to think "Well, he has more experience" ...( without looking at what kind and what the results were)

And therein lies the problem. People simply don't think.

Posted by Scott Carlson
a resident of Community Center
on Sep 11, 2010 at 9:44 am

While I'm more optimistic--a necessity, I think--than "Cynic" about the long-term future, I may be as cynical as s/he is about the election for governor. That is, our legislative/structural problems are such that it is largely irrelevant who the governor is. Either one will likely "fail"--i.e., not achieve any meaningful change in the way the state is being governed. My hope is that a larger number of people begin having a conversation on the terms Mathews and Paul are presenting; on their merits or not.

Posted by stephen levy
a resident of University South
on Sep 11, 2010 at 11:14 am

stephen levy is a registered user.


Thanks for bringing the book to Town Square attention.

Here is a link to the book and some of the key ideas.

Web Link

A couple of the interesting ideas in the book are 1( instant runoff voting and 2) requiring funding whenever we pass a state bond just as we do for local Palo Alto bonds.

The idea behind instant runoff voting is that your second and third choices can count. A voter ranks all of the candidates. When votes are counted the last place finisher is eliminated and his/her votes are redistributed to other candidates in his/her order of preference, This continues until one candidate has 50% of the vote.

This has two benefits. First a voter can vote Libertarian or Green and know that their second place vote will count. Second, candidates have to court Libertarian and Green voters, conservatives and liberals because their second place votes will count.

The benefits of tying funding to state bond elections are 1) you will get better decision making (think about water bonds or high speed rail for example) and 2) gradually the state budget spending on debt service will decline as bonds will be funded, if passed, by new dedicated funding.

Posted by Erik
a resident of Professorville
on Sep 11, 2010 at 11:58 am

I shall read the book. I must say, though, that it sounds like a vehicle to make it even easier to raise taxes and add additional anti-business regulations. I think we will need to hit rock bottom before we stop demanding more state spending. State spending is not "free".

T.J. Rodgers, of Cypress Semiconductors, is on record saying that he has been partially forced out of California, due to over regulation and taxation issues. Such decisions constitute a very big hit to our economy.

Our bond rating is the worst of all the states. We continue to pass bond issues (like high speed rail), because they sound good or green or just. It may well be that the bond market will determine our future, and impose discipline on us.

In the meantime, California will pay its bills by issuing IOUs...until the banks refuse to take them, anymore.

Posted by Cynic
a resident of Meadow Park
on Sep 11, 2010 at 3:41 pm

Erik, I didn't even want to get into what you mentioned, but I agree. The usual 'blame Prop 13' malarkey in this opinion piece, in order to put in a place a way to raise taxes even more on one of the most, if not most, taxed States in the USA. I turned off with that starting point. Never a mention that we spend 30% more per student, in real dollars, now than we did pre-Prop 13, nor a mention of the tremendous social shifts ( single moms, 2 parent working families, children of non-English speaking parent(s), more kids per TAX-PAYING capita than any State in the nation, education standard shifts) that have had a tremendous impact on our education, bringing us from first to 49th in the nation.

I actually think there is something to the Proposition position. I used to be for them, but have seen them blossom into a way for our legislatures to avoid responsibility.

I am a cynic though. I think there is no way we are going to vote in the people needed to cut our spending, the only way to save this ship.Far too many entrenched takers in the system. Democracy works only until the 6 lions can vote to eat the 4 sheep, then it goes belly up of starvation.

We have an entitled, entrenched class of people, from welfare to prisons ( yes, I said prisons, where the average health care bill is over $40,000 per year, and a court of ours said that we had to pay yet more), to government employee unions that are collapsing California, and I am now far too cynical to believe that anyone will be able to push back..they are the majority now in California, especially as taxpayers take flight.

As for the "instant run-off" thanks. That leads to transferring my vote to another person. Far too easy to play games with that. No interest at all. No thanks. Too lottery like. No. One vote, one person..not 'oh well, that one didn't win, so go ahead and use my vote for the next one up".

No thanks.

Too bad, because I happen to think there is actually something to the

As for the

Posted by Erik
a resident of Professorville
on Sep 11, 2010 at 4:12 pm

"Democracy works only until the 6 lions can vote to eat the 4 sheep, then it goes belly up of starvation."

Cynic, hadn't heard that one before, but it tends to describe our current state of affairs of state. However, it cannot continue, because perpetual motion machines do not exit. Real money is only a reflection of productivity; motion is the reflection of energy. Neither production, nor energy can be created by fiat.

California will not go away, but it will hit bottom in terms of its economy and politics. Out of the ashes will arise a new order constrained by reality.

Posted by Cynic
a resident of Meadow Park
on Sep 11, 2010 at 4:38 pm

Thanks Eric. It is just a more graphic way of saying what Thatcher said, something like "Socialism works until you run out of other peoples' money".

I agree with you. Something will break. People don't but systems do.

Posted by Erik
a resident of Professorville
on Sep 11, 2010 at 4:57 pm


Thatcher may very well be a model for California. However it will take some more suffering before we wake up to that notion. Probably 15% unemployment and banks rejecting IOUs in mass.

Posted by Saddened
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 12, 2010 at 4:58 pm

The use of the Initiative to pass legislation has become the most devastating hit on the Legislature's ability to govern. Uninformed people vote for something that sounds good, whether it's green or helps a worthy small group.

This commits money from the General Fund and leaves less for parks, highways, medical needs, etc.

A good idea to pass power to the voters has gone sadly awry with vested interests such as unions or business lobbies taking over.

Posted by Anon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 14, 2010 at 12:35 am

>> "Socialism works until you run out of other peoples' money".

Just like Capitalism works until you have a bunch of corrupt monopolies that drain the country of its money through lots of debt traps and tricks.

If we are going to solve our problems maybe a great step forward would be to ban these kinds of useless statements, and start collecting some data, and getting some ideas. Ideas besides constantly vilifying Liberals.

We have created a market for crime and greed, and that is exactly what we have more and more of now.

Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.


Post a comment

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

Stay informed.

Get the day's top headlines from Palo Alto Online sent to your inbox in the Express newsletter.


Palo Alto Weekly Holiday Fund

For the last 30 years, the Palo Alto Weekly Holiday Fund has given away almost $10 million to local nonprofits serving children and families. 100% of the funds go directly to local programs. It’s a great way to ensure your charitable donations are working at home.