Letter From California
09/29/14 0642.21 PST
San Jose, California
It has been noted more than once that in 1978 California made a mushy pivot to stingy hold-the-line fiscal spending in what had once been a proudly functional social service state. I was 15 at the time, and in all the alleged arc of my adult perception and growth California has sputtered along in an infuriating slow-motion degradation of social services and priorities.
Hopeful souls heralded the arrival of a Sacramento Democratic supermajority and alleged liberal Democratic governor as the beginning of a new era of government faith and investment, but it was not to be. Governor Brown is not a FDR liberal, not hardly, but he did spur a significant investment in education by putting a gun to our heads with terrible spending cut threats 2 years ago. Ugly, but it did happen.
I remember some fool at the Los Angeles Times huffing that the souls of pain and depravation among us, the wealthy, had to bear the brunt of this progression with a tax increase. It’s never mentioned, of course, that the education tax increase still left the wealthy, well, very wealthy, it’s not as if a meteor strike of pencils and calculators destroyed their Newport Beach yacht club.
Anyway, other than a lifeline throw to education there has been no significant social spending investment here the last 2 years. Governor Brown and the leadership did get justifiably scared of the drought and passed a significant water infrastructure bill, and the renewable energy investments passed by Governor Schwarzengger1 continue to deliver exciting results.
Still, California is not yet a proudly functional high-service state committed to the little people, not hardly. Given what I’ve known and seen I would judge California is in a political pause, not at all willing to degrade further but lacking the leadership to begin a new investment era. Apparently Governor Brown will win yet another term, so the pause will continue another 4 years.
This isn’t a knock on Governor Brown or Party leadership (not today), just a note of where we are. It appears that my adult life will be a span of watching slow degradation in social spending in California, a pause as folks have finally had it with the ruinous mess, and then…
We do not exist in our own galaxy here in California, of course not, the overlay of federal influence and leadership is very strong. I’m extremely sorry to say since 2001 I’ve had to watch a new era of ferocious militarism bloom in United States that has blasted our moral compass apart and inflicted terrible damage of neglect here.
In a pause of terrible regression in California, yet watching a new one bloom with frightening power nationally. 40 million Americans live in poverty and climate change must be fixed, yet all we know what to do is bomb bomb bomb with another war.
Seriously, time was when just the initial condition for being at war was considered an awful error, of course there are bad guys out there, but we never should have been put in the position to be so stupidly vulnerable to resources or political provocation.
If things did get so smashed as to be in war, well by god do everything to stop it and get back to peace! Somehow it’s now supposed to be the new normal that peace will never be with us again? American leadership minds and souls sagely nod that yet is indeed so, Jesus.
Now in its 13th year, our new American era of war and violence will only continue the slow-motion wreck of neglect we see in Detroit and Ferguson. It took roughly 30 years for the social neglect era to flame out here in California, will it take that long for the American militarism era to end?
I don’t know. Unlike the hopeful and encouraging developments in California I see absolutely nothing to indicate the insane stance of permanent American war ending, only more degradation. When Senators Warren and Franken yap about grave ISIS threats that’s a blasting bellwether sign of how utterly lost we have become, oh my god.
[sigh] To an outsider looking in I would only say that fear and uncertainty are enormously powerful levers on the human mind, after a terrible act American leadership deliberately chose to use them for stupid, shortsighted immature ends. President Obama fervently embraced that leadership posture, it’s that simple, and I don’t know how we’re ever going to get out of this era of escalating violence again.
 Governor Schwarzenegger was recently at the Capital for the unveiling of his official portrait. He looked fit, healthy and cheerful, officials collegial with the happy ceremony.
One could have 1,000 not-so-complimentary observations and opinions of Mr. Schwarzenegger, of course, but every time I see him I’m reminded that after everything he lost Maria Shriver. Few men pay such a price for their mistakes, and I’m quite certain that with every new dawn Mr. Schwarzenegger pays yet again, oh yes, then moves on with his best with what he knows. Good luck, please stay well, Mr. Schwarzenegger.