California Budget Eulogy Revisted

It was a year ago that I first wrote about the imminent death of the former great State of California in Bloodhound Blog

Unfortunately it’s time to roll out this article once again, reflecting on how little we’ve learned, how impotent we’ve become, and how far we have fallen from grace.

If you check out any of my social media profiles you’ll come to find that “It’s a Wonderful Life” with James Stewart is my absolute favorite of all time. Sure, I’m a Star Trek fan, a Dirty Harry fan, and lots’ more, but this movie captures the heart and soul of both an individual man, his family, and the community in which he lives. It is simply a great piece of art.

Usually I don’t think about “It’s a Wonderful Life” until December, since that’s when the movie usually plays on TNT, or the mainstream stations. But today, after seeing a clip from a financial news show with a colleague, I was suddenly dumbstruck with something that just has to get out of my head now.

It so happens that today is the first day of California’s umpteenth failure to pass a balanced budget, so it’s not as if I haven’t lived through this before. California’s budget, like those of the counties and cities that make up this Golden state, have been turning putrid for quite some time.

Some thoughts and insights have fomented and seethed in me for over a year now, and perhaps using “It’s a Wonderful Life” as an example, I can at least unleash the demons that beset my thinking on this recurring and repulsive problem.

Take seven minutes and watch the America I grew up in. It’s a wonderful piece, with a message we’ll talk about down below.

Sorry, I had to wipe some tears again. I’m a real softy when it comes to communities, straight thinking, generosity and courage.

What stuck to my craw this morning when I was forced to think again about California and its problems was the fact that our sense of community is almost gone, forfeited by years of greed, selfishness, NIMBY’s and the pervasive idea that “I’ll take all I can get, when I can get it, from whomever I can get it.”

Teri, not Dayton, of course.

Here’s the heart of my heartbreak. With schools about to lose and children losing more, medical care being shut off, community programs for those in true need squashed, etc., etc., what I hear over and over again from those who HAVE is this. “We got ours. We want to keep ours. The rest of you can go down with the ship. We won’t play nice. We won’t share. We just want what we want, and we want it no matter what.”

They all want their $242, don’t they?

They (government workers, teachers, police, fireman, and all the unions) want their $242. They say they bargained for it, and now they’re going to get it. Just like the character in the clip, they stand at the cashier’s station, front and center, with nary a glance to the side or behind to the neighbors, friends and community they say they represent. “Pay me first,” is their mantra. You owe us. Sorry if it hurts, and sorry if you think you’ve been had. This is America, after all. Winner take all. Take no prisoners. We outsmarted you, so now you’re going to pay.

There are no more Rosie the Riveters. Gone are the families that sent in stockings and tires, and who bought savings bonds because first and foremost the nation needed to pull together. Gone is the allegiance to staying in the same town, playing for the same team, going to the same church, holding your tongue if you’ve got “nothing good to say.”

I feel stained today. Hurt. Pretty angry, actually. I’ve got nothing good to say about how those we’ve elected have guided us, nurtured us, strengthened us by their EXAMPLE. Instead I’m supposed to get what I can for myself, stomp on the frail, weak or misguided.

I don’t see many Jimmy Stewart’s any more.

I simply see Mr. Potter’s.

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