EDITOR: The editorial cartoon in Friday's paper was extremely misleading. It depicts Gov. Jerry Brown wearing a fireman's uniform and a Yes on 30 button while carrying a child holding school books. A couple looks on, remarking, "It would be even more heroic if the fire he saved them from wasn't the one he threatened to set."
Let's get this straight: The "fire" was the huge deficit left by his predecessors, which Brown faced when he took office. His stated goal was to reduce the deficit without further crippling California's infrastructure. He promised to make no tax increases without voter approval. In a brilliant compromise, he melded the tax initiative proposed by the California Federation of Teachers with his own plan.
The fact that Proposition 30 passed and Proposition 38 went down to ignominious defeat shows both his political genius and the political acuity of California's electorate.
<b>Other people's money</b>
EDITOR: Benjamin Franklin presciently observed that the demise of the American republic would begin when people found they could vote themselves money. The approval of Proposition 30 is a vivid example. Encouraged by their publicly retained teachers and administrators, highly privileged college students voted to tax their fellow citizens to fund their education for the next four to seven years for the promise of a $249 tuition refund check for themselves today. As one student said, "Sign me up."
Isn't democracy fun?
But using the brute force of the state to take from some to reward a small group of others has a very finite shelf life; governments inevitably run out of other peoples' money. Ask the Greeks, whose public retainers voted themselves 14 months of pay for 12 months of labor, how finally running out of other people's money has worked for them.
When Proposition 30 is supposed to expire, and today's students are (hopefully) gainfully employed, they can then expect that those who follow will also vote themselves money. Guess who is going to pay.
And so it goes — until all the other people's money is gone. From his grave, Franklin is sadly shaking his head.
EDITOR: Basil Adams ("The flaw in our democracy," Close to Home, Saturday) stated that "the great flaw in our democracy is that the majority can always vote to take a disproportionate price from a minority." This reprises Mitt Romney's claim that 47 percent of the electorate are takers, not givers. So the "great flaw," apparently, is that some minorities must suffer the effects of majority interests. But isn't that the essence of a democracy, not a flaw?
Adams' point is misleading in that the 47 percent, or even the 99 percent, have no access to K Street lobbyists, who in fact create legislation to benefit their wealthy clients explicitly. He also fails to mention that in the past 30 years, such legislation has led to a massive transfer of wealth from the 99 percent to the 1 percent.
This wealth transfer, and the increasing stress placed on ordinary working people, were central themes of the election. Need one mention that 45 percent of the current federal deficit can be traced directly to the George W. Bush tax cuts, which heavily favor the rich?