Arnold Schwarzenegger has been a disaster as governor of California, wimping out in spending battles against the legislature and basically driving the economy off a cliff.
It’s too bad his real life personae isn’t more like one of his movie characters, because what California really needs (we hate to say) is a strongman. Not a man that’s strong, but a dictator.
California needs someone to say:
“Hey voters, screw you and your stupid ballot measures.”
“Hey public employees, we’re laying some of you off and cutting pay for the rest of you.”
“Hey rich folks who live on the coast, we’re raising your property taxes. Suckas!”
If Arnold Schwarzenegger were more like The Terminator he might’ve said all of this and the state wouldn’t be in such a mess. Alas he’s just a normal human, and besides the political system wouldn’t allow him to be such an authoritarian.
But it’s clear that California’s mess exposes the worst in representative Democracy. After passing some massive tax hikes earlier in the year in order to close the budget gap, California is already facing another shortfall of about $15 billion. And that will get worse, if voters don’t approve new ballot measures next week.
And of course they won’t approve them, because a) ballot measures are tough to pass and b)nobody is going to vote raise their own taxes or cut spending that’s perceived to be helpful.
Democracy is a real bitch when it comes to cutting back or taking haircuts. California-style direct democracy, where voters get to decide on issues directly is even worse.
And if you are going to have direct democracy, you definitely don’t want it in a state like California, where the average citizen spends hours a day trapped in a car, listening to talk-radio loudmouths blathering on about this or that.
In the meantime, it looks like California’s democracy are set to spread. When the state finally threatens to default, and Barney Frank manages to push a guarantee of the entire muni market, the de-federalization of America will be complete.