I want a pony. I will vote myself a pony. I get a pony! Yay! I can’t take care of a fucking pony! It dies.
This is why direct democracies do not work. We vote for what we want, not what we need. There’s a reason why nobody else tried the vote-by-mob method after the Greeks invented it — their votes were chaotic. The mob would authorize war one day then vote to call the warships back the next. Much better to instead elect representatives to run the government for you. Jefferson thought we here in America would elect the “elites of society” to run things with one level of emotional contact removed from the daily whims of the populance. This, corruption aside, works.
But what happens when you add a little direct democracy into the mix? We here in California have done that. Sure, we have a representative government getting the job done, but we also play with propositions where we can decide things directly. Do we want to take rights away from minorities? Seems like we can do that. Do we want to cut the hell out of our taxes? Of course we do! And after they’re cut, do we want the government to spend more money on us anyway! Sounds good, right?
Sadly, there’s never been a ballot proposition authorizing the creation of magic that makes “less taxes” and “more spending” actually work. Things had to be cut. Since the appropriately-named Proposition 13 cut and limited property taxes in 1978, we’ve seen Californian public schools go from the top to the bottom as their funding dried up. Criminals don’t go to prison anymore since there’s no room to incarcertate them — no money to build more prisons. It was only a matter of time before we completely run out of money, buried under debt obligations we’ve accrued just to make ends meet.
So now, the more-than-Draconian cuts are coming. And we still whine. 220 state parks to close? “No way, that’s punishing the voters!” the crowds of village idiots cry. There’ll be more crying than that when they see what it really takes to close a $25 billion budget cap without new taxes. Hundreds of thousands of children removed from health care; thousands of teachers fired; school years cut by a week or more; police and firefighters laid off; IOUs instead of tax rebates… And it’s all our fault. Perhaps we need some punishing. The Taxpayer Revolt was indeed revolting.
Unless there’s a proposition out there to create fiscal sorcery and witchcraft to magically create money, we need to raise taxes. Plain and simple. And we can’t with Proposition 13 in effect. Best way to solve this? A new constitutional convention to rewrite how California functions. Get rid of the mess We, The People, have put in there, and remove our ability to junk it up in the future. There’s talk of it already. Let’s hope it evolves into action.