California Dreamin’

I’m not sure what point Mike Klassen is trying to make with this blog post. He cites approvingly Steve Malanga’s article “The Beholden State: How public-sector unions broke California”. Ok, fine. But then he immediately undermines [that right-wing talking point] with:

It should be pointed out that to the great credit of BC’s largest public sector unions – the BCGEU, CUPE and the HEU – the Government of BC has signed “net zero” contracts for the next two years. That’s sixty percent of the labour agreements in the Province. The previous Minister of Finance Carol Taylor was heralded for signing 2 & 3% increases plus a thousand dollar signing bonus – spending a $1 billion windfall from a spike in natural gas sales. Difficult economic times have made forced the government and union reps to reign in their expectations with positive results.

Ah…so….??? What’s the problem?

Mike seems to feel Malanga’s piece is, somehow, not an attack on public sector workers. But having read it, it’s clearly in line with the typical right-wing tactic of setting the middle class against itself, choc a bloc full of the usual boilerplate. There’s a lot one could critique it for but the gist is rather than lifting private sector workers up, we must cut public sector workers down – a race to the bottom. Malanga does briefly elide over one of the true culprits – Proposition 13. Who would have thought that giving the people the ability to approve their own tax increases would mean…they never would approve tax increases. Who would have thought giving the people the ability to make spending commitments without requiring funding commitments would lead to trouble. He underplays the effect of the housing bust on revenue. There’s no mention of California’s unique 2/3 procedural super-majority legislative requirement for passing budgets (which has had the real effect of allowing a small group of die-hard Republican zealots from Orange County hijacking the budget process). And there’s no mention that Republicans have governed for much of the past 30 years. In all of that, California is a cautionary tale, not just to British Columbia, but to everyone.

But it’s not really of immediate relevance to today’s B.C.

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