Tag Archives: government reform

Dan Walters: Capitol is broken

Well, I find myself agreeing with Dan Walters (it happens occasionally):

If nothing else, the comic opera collapse of the two-month political quest for a plan to improve highways, levees and other strained and deteriorating public facilities should finally convince Californians that their Capitol is a broken institution, endemically incapable of dealing with major policy issues.
Simply put, California’s dizzyingly dense mélange of ideological, geographic, cultural and economic subgroups interacts with a political structure that, in effect, gives every “stakeholder” a virtual veto power over the product. Under those circumstances, there are only two possible outcomes, both of which are bad. Either the product is a monstrosity that accommodates all demands but collapses of its own weight, or there is stalemate and no product at all.(Sac Bee 3/17/06)

Agreed! The fact that every interest can hold up the governing in our state is ridiculous.  It has lead us to the terrible result that we govern by proposition.  It led Arnold Schwarzenegger to work for Prop 10 for after school programs, it led Rob Reiner to work for Prop 82 for universal preschool.  Where does my finger point? Squarely at Prop 13 and its ilk. 

Now, Dan has a different idea.  He’s not concerned with changing the system, he just thinks that everybody should be good and do what’s right.  Uh…yeah…that’s gonna happen:

If there’s any hope of reviving the Capitol’s relevance, its occupants must have enough guts to keep it simple and to heed Nancy Reagan’s advice on drugs to “just say no” to all ancillary demands, no matter what their source may be.

Well, Dan, I’m not sure if your tongue is planted firmly in cheek, but I think we both know that  legislators and interest groups are not going to stop being self-interested.  What we need is a return of the simple majority to budgetary politics.