You can look it up. I did when I saw in the Times this weekend that California is in the happy position of actually having more money than it needs to run the state. California, which has the eighth largest GDP of any country in the world! There’s more money here than Brazil! The caveat, of course, and known only too well by those of us who have lived here for untold decades, is that these things do fluctuate. Only a couple of years ago, the state government seemed about ready to put up the capital buildings for sale to the highest bidder and board up the state parks. But now the whole situation has been reversed, with no small thanks going to the taxpayers who agreed to an increase. Now the new budget will go to the governor at the end of the month with high expectations that he will sign it forthwith.
It’s all good. You may not agree with any number of programs that will now be re-activated or the many ways the money is spent, but you have to find it refreshing to see how these kinds of things can be accomplished sans the bickering that’s been an agonizing part of what is loosely called governing in Washington. One party does control the basic functions of running the state, and given your own preferences, you may not be a fan. But we are spared the craziness of politicians axing a program simply because they don’t like the man in charge, even if it happens to be beneficial to the public at large.
While recognizing the reality and the need for diverse opinions, a certain amount of pragmatism in running a state or nation must prevail lest we find ourselves completely shackled and unable to move. Then too — and as wiser heads than mine have asserted –you don’t budget for a state — or nation — in the same manner as you do when you consider household expenses. When you hear a politician use that kind of metaphor, watch out, because there’s so much more involved, including those diverse opinions, as well as diverse needs.
I have my own ideas as to things that California could do to improve my sense of what might constitute an enhanced life for us all. As I have said here more than once, I would love to see the state finally build a high-speed rail system in the European manner, and that China managed to create in just five years, but I’m not holding my breath. If I want to sail down train tracks at 180 miles per hour and go from Brussels to Paris in less than two hours, it looks like I’ll have to go there to do it. Similar passage from Los Angeles to San Francisco would seem to be 20 to 30 years away. Shoot, I’d like to see at least one lane added to the north-bound 5 so I could make the trip to downtown in less than 90 minutes during rush hour.
Don’t count on it.
But again, progress in Sacramento is happening, incremental at best, to be sure, but happening nonetheless, so I’m applauding those small favors. And more than anything I’m applauding the absence of posturing politicians who find it necessary to say “no” to movement and growth, for whom the word “yes” has no place in their lexicon. Whoever said that this country can’t do amazing things and new things, and somehow made it stick? This country who’s GDP is three times more than the nation that’s in second place (Japan)? It just may be that in California we’re beginning to take a more forward approach.