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Monday, May 18, 2009

We Are Californians Not Colonists

In 1765 the British Parliament passed the Stamp Act, a tax which was imposed only on the American Colonies. The purpose of the tax was to fund the presence of the British military in the American Colonies, where they remained after the conclusion of the French and Indian War. While later repealed, the Stamp Act was a major factor in coalescing the American Colonies into a single political unit for the purpose of fighting the Stamp Act and other taxes later imposed on the American Colonies by the British Parliament. The British saw the Colonies as a source of revenue and also a source of geopolitical advantage in spreading their control across the American Continent using the British Army and Navy now garrisoned in America.

Of course the most important phrase to come out of the Stamp Act was the rallying cry that began in Boston and spread through the Colonies, "No Taxation Without Representation." And Representation began with every colony sending representatives to Philadelphia which later became the Continental Congress; which as we know later became the Constitutional Congress and still later the Congress of the United States of America.

Now we find ourselves in the 21st Century on the far side of the North American Continent from the original American Colonies in the State of California. Like the 18th Century American Colonists citizens of California are finding themselves subject to increasing amounts of taxation to support what they see more and more as a foreign government, when in fact it is the government of their own making. And like 18th Century American Colonists more and more Californians are feeling their taxation is coming without representation, when in fact they cast the actual votes that have elected those passing the taxes. Juxtaposing a more modern phrase with that of the American Revolution, if perception is reality than in many Californian households there is taxation without representation.

There are numerous factors that have led our State Legislature, abetted by the signature of whomever held the Governor's office, to the current state of financial collapse in state finances. The most basic and over-riding cause has been the explosion of spending in Sacramento over the past ten years or more that has doubled the size of the California government expenses. This has been enabled by the combination of term limits and gerrymandered legislative districts which ensured not only a Democratic majority for both the State Assembly and Senate, but ensured further that each District is so gerrymandered that only the most Democrat of Democrats or Republican of Republicans stand any chance of getting elected in the jigsaw shaped district they represent.

Further compounding the issue has been the question of representation. Who exactly have the Legislators in Sacramento been representing? The middle income families who are paying the highest income tax rate in the nation? The lower income families who are paying the highest sales taxes in the nation? The children in the State's public schools who while having the highest paid teachers in the nation score near the bottom in standardized tests? The business owners who have been taking their businesses out of the state, and during the sustained period of economic growth from 2002 through 2007 did not open new businesses in our state? Are any of these groups represented by the budgets passed in each of the past ten fiscal years by our Legislature? The answer is no, and because of that we ask, do we have taxation without representation in the State of California?

We get what we elect and the majority of Californians have blindly followed the path of campaign ads, political flyers and what the letter is inside the parentheses on the ballot--for the Legislature if there is a (D) then it gets elected in almost 60% of the State. And who funds that (D)? Prison guards who created the most expensive prison system in the United States. Teachers' unions who have the largest amount of spending on education in the United States and the highest teacher salaries. Unions representing almost all of the 235,000 state workers from Chula Vista to Redding, the most of any state in the United States. Year after year, election after election these groups have poured millions of dollars into state political campaigns, almost exclusively funding the candidates of one party, and year after year we have seen budget after budget paying these groups back with increased numbers of employees, higher salaries and higher benefits. And now the people of California are waking up to the reality of what has happened to them.

The Governor and other officials up and down the State have been on a tour trying to scare the people into voting for Propositions 1A through 1E on Tuesday. The message is the same, if we do not pass these measures we will face an even greater budget deficit. We will have to lay off some government workers (at latest count about 2%), we will have less money for schools, for prisons, for the fixing of infrastructure.

What they do not say in these Scare Rallies is the even if the voters do pass Props 1A-E, and increase the highest taxes in the nation for even longer, if we will still have deficits in the coming years because of the massive give-aways in the previous ten budgets. None of these Propositions unravel any of the previous spending or contracts, all they do is perpetuate them.

Just as the Colonists formed the Stamp Act Congress which eventually led to the Declaration of Independence, the People of California need to band together and overthrow the ideas of those who govern us. We need to defeat everyone of the Propositions on the ballot and force our Legislature and Governor to address the real problems we face: too much government, too much government spending and too much of our hard earned money that is taken from us in taxes going to pay too many people salaries and benefits that are too high.

It is time for the people of California to quit enabling Sacramento while disabling our schools and communities and future.

Vote NO on Propositions 1A through 1E. Tell every elected official in the State "No more taxes, no more spending."

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