April 1, 2013
Fittingly, the same day Egan’s hymn was published, the California State Auditor reported the state’s net worth – its assets minus its liabilities – at negative $127.2 billion. Also reported were $167.9 billion in long-term obligations, not including $60 billion in unfunded liabilities for retiree health care, or those for state employees’ future pensions. These are not just “bills.” These are benefits for public employees and services for the poor that won’t be delivered as promised.
California’s public school system, both one of the most expensive and one of the poorest performing in the country, is not improving. The state’s prison system is both so overcrowded and underfunded that the US Supreme Court deemed conditions “cruel and unusual punishment.” And despite 9.8 percent unemployment (tied for highest in the country), tax, regulatory, and zoning policies make blue-collar job creation in manufacturing and real estate development next to impossible.
Egan and other turquoise dreamers seem to look at tenured teachers, happy prison guards, and fleeced one-percenters and believe conditions are promising enough to move on to romantic dreams of the future. Over the heads of undereducated kids, the chronically unemployed, and the poor, they see a high-speed train zooming along the sparkling coast. This is not how progressives used to think.
It’s what passes for ideology now.