Thursday, April 14, 2011

Another Day of Cognitive Dissonance from Jerry Brown

F. Scott Fitzgerald once said that the test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, while still retaining the ability to function. If this is true, then Jerry Brown must be functioning at a higher level than almost anyone in the state. To illustrate, let's look at some of the ways the Governor is spending his time these days.

I'm either smarter or more confused than I look.
On one hand, he's very concerned about balancing California's budget. Following his magical mystery tour through some of the inland counties last week, the Governor was back in Sacramento yesterday to remind us all that the public's safety is at risk if we can't pass five more years of tax increases. You see, one of his plans for dealing with California prison overcrowding involves the transfer of large numbers of state prison inmates to county jails, where they would take part in local crime prevention programs. In suggesting this, he's running into two problems: one, many county jails are unprepared to absorb so many new inmates; and two, he's insisting on paying for this through an extended increase in the state's sales tax and vehicle license fees. While an obvious question (why does transferring non-violent offenders to lower-security facilities cost more money?) is going unasked, clearly Gov. Brown is interested in doing the fiscally responsible thing here. Right?

On the other hand, sometime shortly after that speech, the Governor went back to his office and relieved Chuck Murray of his post as the head of the California Citizens Compensation Committee (we were really hoping, for humor's sake, that they'd called it a Panel instead of a Committee). No reason was given, but he was told he was being replaced as chairman by one of two people Brown had appointed only hours earlier. Murray, a southern California insurance executive, had been outspoken in calling for slashing the salaries of state lawmakers and cutting perks such as cars paid for by taxpayers. We're sure this has nothing to do with the CCCP (sorry, CCCC) being poised to vote on the issue, and Brown needing Republican votes for his tax proposals. So, the Governor thinks balancing the budget is important; just not so important that anyone in Sacramento should feel the effects of doing so.

We also couldn't help noticing this Sacramento Bee piece on the dispute over unpaid furloughs of state workers, a policy that began two years ago under Arnold Schwarzenegger. Now that the Governor's office is occupied by a wholly-owned subsidiary of organized labor, the unions are understandably more optimistic about getting back all the money that the state saved through the policy. That's right: not only are furloughs likely a thing of the past, but the state is going to have to write a $3 billion check for back pay as well. So, the Governor thinks balancing the budget is important; just not so important that it should affect workers so worthless that their absence from work had no effect on the life of any private citizen.


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