The nation, and it's constituent states are currently dealing with a contracting economy. I say contraction, as that is the cold economic term, but in reality the word does not do justice to what is going on. In real terms contraction means many things. In one individual's world, contraction means that their nest egg is dramatically slashed, and that their fixed income just got smaller. In some cases that means older retirees are now back in the job market, a market that really doesn't exist. In another person's world they are out of work, trying to support a family. As they scramble to recover, they find that it is taking an average of 17 interviews and 9 months to find the next job, often times yielding significantly less in salary and total compensation. Still others worry that they may lose their jobs and what they would do in that event. Thousands are being displaced as foreclosures take their homes. Regardless of the situation, the impact is very real.

We live in a country that from its inception made, for what was the time, some reasonably high standards for government.

From the Declaration of Independence
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. --That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed...."

Government, created by the people, for the people. To this end we see the Federal government taking steps, which arguably may have less effect than a placebo, to secure our rights to Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness..." In the face of diminishing revenues the Federal government is making attempts to stimulate the economy, in most cases at great cost. The Federal government is looking at the long term and working to pull us out of our recession.

In contrast, the state of California, has taken a much shorter term view. After a decade of what could be called a drunken spending spree, the state has committed to significant financial obligations. These obligations were based on revenue (tax receipts) that have vanished as a result of our contracting economy.

Faced with this reality the state of California was forced to review its budget which, when revised to reflect the diminished receipts came woefully short. After an agonizing, and dishonest by many accounts, budget process, the state finally passed a budget. The budget required two years of increased taxes, had several token reductions in planned increases, and required several propositions to be placed on a special election. Basically, the state did nothing to rein in on spending and passed the burden of the contracting economy on the taxpayer.

In order to pass the budget, one legislator pushed for several items to be placed on a special election. One, Prop 1A, is a "Spending cap" that actually does nothing to limit spending. It basically states that if passed the state cannot increase spending without increasing taxes, and establishes a "Rainy day" fund which will hold over funds when the economy does well for times when it does not. The problem with the rainy day fund is that Prop 1B will raid that fund for education, to the tune of $9 Billion dollars, such that the fund will never really exist. Also, what will not be in the ballot summary for these propositions will be the fact that if 1A passes that the two years of increased taxes will be extended to four years. In addition to this, the ballot summary which is normally written by the Attorney General's Office of California, and done so with careful attention to issue neutrality, was written by the legislature. There was NO attempt to be neutral in wording this document.

I look forward to this budget failing as miserably as the last one. The fact is that raising taxes in this economy is nearly certain to worsen the economic contraction. Other states are actively recruiting California businesses with incentives to come to their states and bring in new jobs for their citizens. The further reduction is sales and income revenues to the state will certainly worsen their revenue forecasts. My only hope is that the state will be forced into bankruptcy, and that the bankruptcy is assigned to a fiscally responsible individual, who by fiat, will do what the California legislature has refused to do, make a responsible budget. Someone who realizes that government is to serve the people, not the special interests who take them on all expense paid junkets to expensive resorts, as lobbyists did this December with members of the California legislature in return for favors in the budget.

Having written all of this, what infuriates me the most is the fact that while the public cares about this issue, the media as a whole does not. This past weekend I was at a protest rally about the issue. There were thousands in attendance. At 3 p.m. when it started I had some room to move around, by 5:30PM when I left it was insanely packed. There are differences in what is being reported regarding attendance. Some estimates are at 8,000 others are at 15,000. I would say that at 3 p.m. the 8,000 was probably about right, and by 5:30 p.m. the 15,000 was probably a bit of an under-estimate. Regardless of what number you might be inclined to believe, to get 100 people to gather together on a Saturday would be a feat. Eight thousand is newsworthy, yet only small blips on TV and in newspapers. When the media does speak of Prop 1A it usually is a skewed report saying that people in general support the proposition. What they refuse to mention is the fact that when people are informed that it will raise taxes for an additional two years support falls away sharply. They would rather cover news of 24 teacher's union members disrupting a school district meeting, or 100 illegal aliens protesting for their rights, than upwards of 15,000 Californian citizens yelling, "Heads on a stick!"

The irony is that while some news outlets have stated that the tax protest rally was, "Irrelevant", the fact is that as time moves on it is these outlets that are becoming increasingly irrelevant. Need news, go to the internet. Need to sell something, forget the classifieds, use Ebay or Craig's list. Need a deal, shop online, save the sales tax in many cases. The OC Register was there. I spoke with the photographer, I was on the front page. Where were you?