Roger L. Simon

Is California Hopeless?

Is the Golden State hopeless and headed for bankruptcy?  After the 2010 election, it doesn’t need a forty-plus year resident like me to state the obvious — and how!

Yes, last Tuesday, running counter to most of the rest of country, the citizens of one of the most beautiful and bountiful pieces of real estate on Earth, not to mention many of the globe’s most innovative companies, simply stuck their heads collectively in the sand and said: Bring it on!

Now sure, Whitman and Fiorina weren’t the greatest campaigners since Harry Truman. But come on — look at the alternatives.  Jerry Brown and Barbara Boxer were already proven adherents of economic catastrophe.  They have neither the will nor the motivation to turn things around.  They were both elected with the unstinting support of the very unions whose bloated pension plans created the current intractable financial crisis in the first place. Bankruptcy looms.

Okay, technically speaking, I realize states can’t go bankrupt.  Only individuals and municipalities can.  And, yes, states are protected against being sued by the 11th Amendment through something called sovereign immunity.

But these are minor distinctions without much of a difference.  Call it bankruptcy or call it shmankruptcy, you either can pay your bills or you can’t.  California, which has already suffered the ignominy of paying many through IOUs, is heading for a situation where no one will take its IOUs.

Now — and here is the nub of my piece — whatever you do when this happens, do not allow anyone to bail us out. Not one penny.  Not the federal government, the Heart Fund, the Community Chest, the World Bank, UNICEF, or even George Soros. Do not take up a collection in your places of worship or set up a food bank.  And above all, do not make California into some giant state version of General Motors.  It didn’t work for the auto company and it will not work for us.

The only solution is for California to suffer — and to suffer badly.  The citizens of this state need a serious beat down. This was the place where Jane Fonda popularized “No gain without pain.”  Well, time for the pain.  Remember the “Summer of Love”?  Time for the “Summer of Tough Love.” And the Winter, Fall and Spring as well.

Otherwise there is no chance we will wake up.  And if we don’t wake up even then, feel free to call in the Air Force and drop some bunker busters on the San Andreas Fault.  Set us adrift.

And don’t worry, as we sail off into the Pacific, we’ll be just fine.  Even if our kids don’t get any toys, we’ll still have our Big Macs.  And if we get really depressed, we can always cut the safety net under the Golden Gate Bridge — it’s so overpriced anyway — and take the plunge.