Times Watch for November 10, 2003
Apocalypse Pretty Soon, Starring Undertaxed California
Is California headed for an apocalypse for lack of tax hikes? In Mondays signed editorial, Viewing California Politics Through the Lens of a Science Fiction Movie, editorial board member Brent Staples finds a villain more terrifying than any movie monster-Proposition 13, the 1978 California ballot initiative that capped property taxes.
After running through some increasingly strained movie analogies (especially Blade Runner, director Ridley Scotts frightening vision of Californias future), Staples calls anti-tax-cut advocates extremists who hate the idea of community: Wealthy and middle-class Californians have increasingly withdrawn into gated communities that thrive while the older, poorer counties they have fled struggle along on a diminished tax base. The people in the new, homogenous communities tend to be extreme localists who drop out of the broader civic life. When they do engage statewide politics, they tend to do it with ballot initiatives that slash tax revenues, hamstring the Legislature and generally cut the civic ties that bind citizens in one place to those at the far end of the state.
Like many liberals, Staples feels that high taxes fuel community spirit: The barriers they erect destroy the ebb and flow through which newcomers have historically become part of the mainstream and moved into the middle class. The fortress-style villages-with affluent whites shut up inside and immigrants outside the gates-are hastening the development of the science-fiction scenario that terrified Californians in the first place.
At least Staples doesnt invoke governor-elect Arnold Schwarzenegger as an arch-villain.
For the rest of Staples dystopian look at Californias future, click here.
California | Editorial | Proposition 13 | Brent Staples | Tax Cuts