Monday, October 17, 2011
Held the notch on what is called locally as the Bloomberg Channel. A lively live debate was underway. Splashed across the screen in front of the portly moderator who stood behind an imposing lectern was the statement: California Is A Failed State. Huh, what? I almost lost consciousness. California, home to Hollywood, Apple, Facebook, Intel, Google, Yahoo, the most populous state in the union, among the top ten largest economies in the world taken separately, the most innovative, etc., a failed state?
Anyway after intently listening for a few minutes, I was getting the picture. There apparently is a proposition, or a ballot initiative put forth by the voters, that seeks to declare that the state indeed is a failed state. Probably to be voted upon during the next local elections this coming November. This whole process is uniquely California, an enviable model in its exercise of “direct democracy” - when the people themselves take a hand in governance.
Across one side, the negative side to a debate, I recognize the 3 panelists. – erstwhile CA governor, Gray Davis, who was unceremoniously ousted during a recall election that saw the start of the Arnie reign; Van Jones, of late an Obama appointee who had to decline due to some pretty incendiary statements made by him in his prior life, and Lawrence O’Donnell, an MSNBC anchor noted for his caustic anger against anything conservative.. All decidedly liberal in political orientation. And on the other side, the affirmative side, they had 3 panelists who were not known to me. – a lady editor of a popular website or group, a male economist, and another male panelist who had served in some administration. All who I suppose declared themselves as conservatives.
With a huge enough live audience who asked questions directed to all panelists, the overall discussion was interesting, friendly and civil so that my guess is that everybody walked away from it learning more about the attendant issue.
Of course, the issue itself has been dogging California for a long, long time, way past Grey Davis’ administration. People have been noticing the slow decline of the California economy and the shameful neglect of its government in stemming that downward tide. People have complained of recurring huge state deficits, too many regulations in its economic life from business to the environment, businesses burdened by too many taxes and regulations that they were leaving in droves, cities were deteriorating politically and socially, the latter in the form of unabated homelessness on city streets, infrastructures like roads and bridges were crumbling due to neglect, etc. Etc. Of course add to that, the still teetering housing situation which continues to hit the state harder than others. As we speak some areas have already lost more than 50% of home values pegged from 4-5 years ago. And still spiraling down with no bottom in sight.
But that is not my point. Personally, the issue for me is old hat, yesterday’s meal.
But because I am a naturalized citizen and continue as a resident of California, I am directly impacted by what happens there. While now spending some time in the old homeland, still one cannot ignore the realities there because pretty soon I will be back there for a spell. Most likely spending the same time when the local elections will be held.
What is astounding is that I can live 7000 miles away from it and still vicariously participate in its critical affairs at the flip of a switch, while at the same time still having my ears attuned to the local events that also daily affect my current life here. Straddling between two coasts without loss of any real time! One of today’s wonders!
But how shall I vote on this issue? That is not a “consummation devoutly to be wished”.