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WANTED: Expert thief
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As we rapidly approach the June 8 Statewide Direct Primary Election, I’d like to take this opportunity to remind you of one simple fact: Here in California, it doesn’t matter who you vote for.
I know, I know. This isn’t the cheeriest of ways to open a column. But it’s the sad truth.
This state’s legislative policies encourage gridlock and so-called “bipartisan compromise” where everyone ends up losing. We could elect the brightest, most well intentioned representative in the state, and it wouldn’t make an ounce of difference in the dysfunctional system that is Sacramento.
We have democrats who want to tax and spend. We have republicans who want to — at least in theory — cut taxes and cut spending.
Somehow, in the spirit of compromise, we have ended up cutting taxes and increasing spending, year after year. This is no solution at all to the disagreement, but it’s the solution that our representatives have endorsed.
The reason for their illogical compromise is simple, really. Politicians want to be reelected, and in order to win races they need to be able to demonstrate their successes in office.
While a smaller government with fewer services may be better for the state in the long run, voters won’t cast their ballots for representatives that don’t bring home job-creating projects. But while voters want results, they don’t want to pay for them; any politician who endorses a tax increase is nearly certain to lose reelection.
The system is broken, plain and simple. The State of California faces a roughly $20 billion deficit, and it’s not just because of the global economic collapse.
Frankly, I think either the republican or democratic solution would work. If we cut taxes and spending more money would remain in the private sector, allowing businesses to drive the economy. If we up taxes and fund more government programs, the additional jobs and state-sponsored investment in research and education would ultimately result in a very prosperous state.
But now we’re so far behind in income that there’s only one solution. We have to increase taxes, and we have to do so quite heavily.
Believe me, even typing that makes me cringe. I staunchly believe that the folks up in Sacramento waste more money each day than I make in a decade.
But the only things we have left to cut are either essential services or services so politically charged that there’s no way to get legislative traction.
And, quite frankly, we’ve put ourselves into this mess with the passage of Proposition 13.
Unfortunately, nothing will change in this state — regardless of who it is making the acceptance speech in November — until we end up bankrupt.
It would be political suicide to lobby for taxes. And our elected officials wouldn’t approve the increase anyway, as a two-thirds vote is nearly impossible to come by in a two party system.
So politicians will continue to carve up the corpse of California’s tax dollars, stealing as much of the remaining money as the other politicians will let them get away with.
As I look at my ballot this June, I won’t look for a brilliant scholar. I won’t seek out an economic genius. I won’t even pay attention to party affiliations.
I’m going to look at the job descriptions that candidates choose, and I’m going to hope I see “Jewel Thief,” or “Mafioso.” I’m going to look for a “Professional Embezzler,” or perhaps even a “Pickpocket.”
I’m going to try to suss out the best thief on the ballot, because whomever we elect won’t be able to change the state legislature. The best we can hope for is to elect a skilled swindler who’ll be able to bring home more from the budget than his cohorts will realize.
It’s survival of the fittest right now in Sacramento. And I won’t feel even the slightest tinge of regret as I drive down freshly repaved streets, look out over new parks, and enjoy my state-funded massage.
Heck, I’d even elect my brigand representative to a second term if he or she delivered all that.
To contact Alex Cantatore, e-mail, call 634-9141 ext. 2005, or write him in on your ballot. Should he be elected, Alex promises to steal as much from Sacramento as he can fit in the back of Governor Schwarzenegger’s Hummer, which he would also steal.