Tuesday, May 19, 2009

My Broken State

I have had the privilege of living in California most of my life. There are many wonderful things about the place, and I have chosen it over some other terrific options. One of the not-so great aspects of living here, however, is that the state government is horribly broken.

This article from The Economist gets a lot of what's not working, and talks a bit about some efforts to fix or replace it. Here's a pretty good summary:

The broken budget mechanism and the twin failures in California’s representative and direct democracy are enough to guarantee dysfunction. The sheer complexity of the state exacerbates it. Peter Schrag, the author of “California: America’s High-Stakes Experiment”, has counted about 7,000 overlapping jurisdictions, from counties and cities to school and water districts, fire and park commissions, utility and mosquito-abatement boards, many with their own elected officials. The surprise is that anything works at all.

As a result, there is now a consensus among the political elite that California’s governance is “fundamentally broken” and that the state is “ungovernable, unless we make tough choices”, as Antonio Villaraigosa, the mayor of Los Angeles and a likely candidate for governor next year, puts it.
I hope we'll be able to pull it together. The city I live in (Oakland) is pretty dysfunctional at this point, too. Interesting times....


the mom said...

i have always thought this would be my ultimate choice for 'where to live' but in recent times i have found myself thinking that new hampshire (where my family is) wouldn't be too bad! or at least we could offset some of its shortcomings with positives--like owning a house, having a yard and garden, and being around family!
part of me is still pulling for california though! ;)

Anonymous said...

Our earliest California ancestor arrived in 1849, so as tempted as I sometimes am to move to someplace cleaner, kinder and more afforable, this is home. Our roots run deep.

As for our state government, I've been known to suggest pushing the reset button and starting over, but there's been some good stuff along with the shockingly evil stuff we've done here.

California's like a fried hard drive where all your family photos are stored. No matter how hopeless data recovery is, you still can't bring yourself to reformat and start anew.