Wednesday, January 11, 2006
IN MY OPINION (Column)
By RAY HAYNES
(The writer represents the 66th Assembly District which includes portions of western Riverside County and northern San Diego County.)
I am not a trekkie, but I do remember a Star Trek episode in which several members of the crew of the starship Enterprise entered an alternative universe. That universe was the mirror image of the “normal” universe, that is, it was exactly like the normal universe, but everyone in it had the exact opposite character of the people in the normal universe.
We have entered that alternative universe in California.
I know that term limits and the recall have substantially diminished the experience in Sacramento, but anyone paying even the smallest attention to history can tell that Gray Davis lost his job because he (1) greatly expanded the government sector of California’s economy, (2) greatly expanded government debt, and (3) greatly expanded government authority over the private sector in the years 1999-2001. Those two years led to the energy crisis of early 2001, the collapse of the private economy (after a five year record growth) in 2001 and 2002, and the fiscal crises that led to the recall of Governor Davis. Governor Schwarzenegger got elected campaigning against these expansions, and promising to “clean house” in Sacramento.
In the alternative universe, as seen on the “Mirror/Mirror” episode in Star Trek, Schwarzenegger would be expanding government, expanding government debt and intruding on the private sector. And, indeed, he is.
Let’s look back in California history. In the late 1980’s, Governor Deukmejian, in order to get prison and freeway funding, gave away some very serious concessions to the leftists, vastly expanding state spending and increasing worker’s compensation benefits. In 1991, to accomplish his agenda, Pete Wilson was forced to increased taxes. The ensuing collapse in California’s economy was precipitous. From the Great Depression to 1992, California’s general fund revenue went up every single year. In the 1992-93 fiscal year, for the first time in modern history, California’s general fund revenue dropped in real terms, from $42.1 billion to $40.9 billion.
The state then repealed the upper income tax rate, cut other taxes, reformed worker’s compensation, reduced regulations, and the economy and state general fund revenue exploded, from $40.1 billion in 1993-4 to $79 billion in 2000-01. In 2000 and 2001, the state increased fees and regulations, increased workers’ compensation benefits, substantially increased the size of government, increased the minimum wage, increased environmental and workplace regulation, and did everything it could to interfere with the private economy.
As a result, in the 2001-02 budget year, once again, general fund revenue dropped substantially, from $79 billion to $66 billion, leading to the largest budget crisis in the history of the state. Two years later, Gray Davis lost his job.
Now Governor Schwarzenegger, in light of his recent loss at the polls, and his sagging popularity, thinks that he needs to do something different in his job, so he has chosen to increase government debt and government regulation on business. He has already demonstrated a penchant for increasing environmental regulations. An increase in work place regulations, like the minimum wage, and an increase in government debt, is the next step down the road to economic collapse — again.
Governor Schwarzenegger looks back to Pat Brown as the builder of the California dream. Except Pat Brown did his building with little borrowed money, and Ronald Reagan defeated Brown because Brown was a big spender. I am concerned that now that we have entered into this alternative universe, some Democrat is going to assume the Ronald Reagan role, move to the right of Schwarzenegger on spending issues, and carry a broom to sweep him out of office.
In Star Trek, Kirk returned to the Enterprise when Spock was able to reverse the glitch in the transporter that sent Kirk and some of his crew to the alternative universe. Our problem isn’t caused by a transporter glitch. How are we going to get out of this universe?
Copyright 2006, Metropolitan News Company