Arnold Schwarzenegger did not destroy California, although a lot of people now blame him. In truth, he has handled the state's crisis more-or-less responsibly.This piece
in the Guardian attempts to address the question: What happened to California?
I advise you to skim the article and focus on the bizarre responses from alleged Californians. Examples:
You trace all Californias problems to liberal ideas and socail programs, high taxation and tree huggers activity. even bad law foisted on Americans can trace its roots to The Golden state.
Contrary to the author's opinion, it is precisely liberalism that has destroyed California. As a Californian who has lived here for nearly my entire life, I remember the great days of California. Once the liberals and hippies took over in the early 80s and implemented their nonsensical environmental and liberal policies, we started our steady dive to the bottom.
"Liberals and hippies" took over in the 1980s
? The decade when Californians voted for Ronald Reagan for president?
This state -- an alleged bastion of liberalism -- has had a Democratic governor for only four of the past 26 years. Back in the 1970s, under Jerry Brown, California was incredibly prosperous; recessions that flattened the rest of the nation barely touched us. (Incidentally, Jerry Brown (now 72) is currently favored to regain his job
The afore-linked Guardian piece evinced a number of other comments which hit the same absurd right-wing talking points in exactly the same language. I find it difficult to believe that so many raging reactionaries read The Guardian
If you want to know what really happened to this state, see this piece
from last June in the New Republic. "Supermajority" requirements prevent the majority of legislators from accomplishing anything, because budget resolutions and tax increases require an impossible two-thirds majority.
The system, in a way, is rigged against the party that wants government to do things. If the legislature can't agree on a balanced budget, the state effectively comes to a standstill: it can't pay its bills, can't provide social services, can't really do anything (except, of course, issue IOUs). Now, nobody is particularly fond of this situation, but it's far less objectionable to Republicans than it is to Democrats. If you don't want government to do very much, you're not going to be that devastated when fiscal paralysis prevents the state from doing anything. It's sort of like the old saying about mud wrestling with pigs--you should try to avoid it because all that happens is you both get dirty and the pig likes it.
Even as one-fifth of Los Angeles county falls below the poverty line, even as the tent cities increase, even as poor children have health care yanked away from them, even as our colleges shed working class students, even as Californians discover that they can't walk from car to shop anywhere
without encountering homeless panhandlers, Republican legislators maintain that the state is too generous
to the less fortunate. Those Republicans are intractable. Even Arnold Schwarzenegger can't reach them.
Those who would blame an imaginary liberal conspiracy never talk about Bush's ruination of our economy. This state's woes were created not be a fantasized cabal of Hollywood liberals but by Republican deregulators in Washington. They authored the current banking crisis, which resulted in a wave of foreclosures that hit California especially hard.
If TARP funds had gone toward Hillary's proposed new HOLC -- a federal agency devoted to helping people stay in their homes -- there would have been fewer evictions and fewer homes selling for reduced prices. More happy homeowners would have meant more people paying their property taxes, resulting in state solvency.
Well, in the short-to-medium term, we need more federal aid. The federal government can print money; the state cannot. (Inflation is not a problem right now.) So far, the Obama administration has spat in Schwarzenegger's face. How about a federal jobs program devoted to fixing California's crumbling infrastructure?
More importantly, we need to reform the way things get done in Sacramento -- and that means changing our state constitution via a constitutional convention. That's a risky move, but we must take it. We must get rid of the supermajority requirements.
Let a simple majority rule. If the politicians screw up, if they overtax or otherwise annoy the citizenry, they will be tossed out at the next election.
We need to put a cap on the initiative process. We need to put an end to gerrymandering, which makes the "red" districts into extremely
red places where only the most extreme, barking mad Republicans are voted into office. Finally, we need to rid ourselves of term limits. Our legislators now spend most of their time preparing for post-legislature gigs as lobbyists.
Would legalizing and taxing marijuana help solve our problems? Yes, but not to the degree that many suppose. Such a move would bring in a billion dollars in tax revenues. Freeing those imprisoned on pot charges would save two or three billion. Those numbers are nothing to cough at. But don't kid yourselves -- Californians can't smoke their way out of this one.