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From the Cheap Seats: Them vs Us

At its best, politics in California, as elsewhere, is a civilized way to address and resolve conflicts in society. Settling differences via politics demands compromise, so we don’t always get what we want, but it’s far better than having to resort to force, which predictably unleashes a host of unintended consequences.

Many politicians see themselves in heroic terms, “fighting” for their cause. In truth, heroic moments are rare, and most of the time, they are doing the mundane work of government, which usually involves collecting or dispensing public funds, though lately, it seems to involve telling others how to live their lives. That’s not so heroic.

Elected officials — executives and legislators — are surrounded by bureaucrats who quietly accumulate power and influence and by rent seekers who manipulate circumstances and the law so they can live off the scraps that fall away from the table. Their number is legion: administrators, teachers, and other public employees, contractors, developers, and owners in regulated industries, along with recipients of the many forms of public welfare.

These people aren’t elected, but they have the power to influence the government with money and boots on the ground. The rest of us, who don’t have a direct stake in the operation of government, have only the diffuse power of the vote. Paradoxically, the people are sovereign, but we have become outsiders. It’s them versus us.

Quoting Lord Acton, “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Our situation in California comes quite close to absolute power. The Democrats in Sacramento hold supermajorities in both houses of the Legislature and the governorship. They have the means at their disposal to act on their own.

When the need for compromise is removed, abuses follow, as night follows day. If the shoe were on the other foot, a Republican supermajority would likely behave the same.

We reported recently about The Taxpayer Protection Initiative, an already-approved ballot measure, an attempt to invigorate the sovereign power of the voters. The Democrats in Sacramento have asked the State Supreme Court to disqualify the measure to deny the people the opportunity to vote on the proposed constitutional amendment to require voter approval of new taxes.

Briefs and replies from both sides have been filed. It’s instructive to review the lengthy list of those on whose behalf briefs in support of the Democrats have been filed. They understand that limiting the taxing power of the government will constrain its ability to dispense more favors. They enjoy the status quo, the orgy of corruption that now characterizes our state government, and they don’t want to give that up.

Voters should connect the dots between the choices they make on their ballots and the kind of government we get. Read the list of Democrat amici below. And remember, it’s them versus us.

Independent California Institute; California Professional Firefighters; American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California and American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California; Service Employees International Union California State Council; Association of California Water Agencies; California Special Districts Association; California State Association of Counties; California Air Pollution Control Officers Association; California Association of Sanitation Agencies; California Fire Chiefs Association; California Municipal Utilities Association; City and County of San Francisco; City of Los Angeles; Fire Districts Association of California; League of California Cities; California Labor Federation; California Pan-Ethnic Health Network; California Rural Legal Assistance, Inc.; California Work & Family Coalition; Center for Workers’ Rights; Center for WorkLife Law; Child Care Law Center; Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund; Equal Rights Advocates; First 5 California; Legal Aid at Work; UNITE-LA; Operating Engineers Local 3; California Statewide Law Enforcement Association; San Jose Police Officers’ Association; Superior Court Professional Employees’ Association; Davis Professional Firefighters’ Association, Local 3494; East Palo Alto Police Officers’ Association; Sacramento Housing & Redevelopment Agency Employees Association; Korean Immigrant Workers Advocates of Southern California, DBA Koreatown Immigrant Workers Alliance; ACT-LA; Active San Gabriel Valley; Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment; Bet Tzedek Legal Services; BASTA, Inc.; Beverly-Vermont Community Land Trust; Brilliant Corners; Cangress, DBA the Los Angeles Community Action Network; Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice; Communities Actively Living Independent & Free; Corporation for Supportive Housing; CTY Housing; Eastside LEADS; Esperanza Community Housing Corporation; Ground Game LA; Holos Communities; Homes & Hope; International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local Union 11; Inner City Law Center; Inquilinos Unidos; LA Family Housing; LA Forward Institute; LA Más; L.A. Voice; Liberty Community Land Trust; LTSC Community Development Corporation; Long Beach Gray Panthers; Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO; CRSP DBA Los Angeles Ecovillage Institute; Los Angeles/Orange Counties Building and Construction Trades Council; Los Angeles Right to Counsel Coalition; Move LA; PATH; Roofers Union Local 36; Southern California Association of Nonprofit Housing, Inc.; Social Justice Learning Institute; Tenemos que Reclamar y Unidos Salvar la Tierra-South LA; UNITE HERE Local 11; United Teachers Los Angeles; United Way, Inc.; Venice Community Housing Corporation; Watts Labor Community Action Committee; Westside LA Tenants Union; and Worksite Wellness LA; California School Boards Association’s Education Legal Alliance; Edmund G. Brown, Jr.; Michael Cohen, B. Timothy Gage, and Ana J. Matosantos.

1 comment

JB February 21, 2024 at 12:50 pm

It’s confusing. Mr. Walsh, who advised (and purportedly still does) and publicly supported Tony Kranz, a Democrat, in his run for mayor, is complaining about our one party system and the orgy of corruption. Isn’t is a bit hypocritical to be helping your opposition while publicly denouncing them? I suggest that Mr. Walsh is a part of the problem and is not credible to suggest solutions.

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