May 20, 2009

Did you know that we had an election in California yesterday? In an odd-numbered year, yet?

Well, I didn't vote, nor did anyone I know, but there was an election, of sorts, mostly concerning the matter of budgeting processes in Sacramento, which no one outside of the editorial pages, the septuagenarian listeners of talk-radio, and the odd Chamber of Commerce broadsheet cares about. It was mostly hyped as a way of giving the finger to the Governator, with Democrats particularly gleeful about avenging The Recall (which also occurred in an odd-numbered year, albeit one where a statistically significant number of people voted), while Republicans, comfortable in the stability they possess as a permanent non-governing minority, were happy to stick in their shivs at the one member of their party who actually has to play a role in the state's future.

Right now, the state legislature is talking about making deep, deeeeeeeep cuts, which is mainly designed to scare up support for either floating a series of bonds, in order to prevent school shutdowns and prison closures, or even better, to actually default on bond payments that are coming due, sort of a "bankruptcy" for sovereign entities. It's the sort of thing that would be a big deal if federalism itself wasn't so outdated. If politics is Hollywood for ugly people, than state governments are its Z-List.

Whatever Sacramento shall deny its citizens, Obama will provide. The few (the happy few) who voted yesterday know all too well that those services that state and local governments have traditionally provided are going to be provided by the federal government in the future, and they are not unhappy about that prospect. You don't see the voters trying to pass referenda abolishing schools or prisons; they just don't want the inefficiency of fifty state bureaucracies having to administer these functions any more. They may not die as quickly as the newspaper and the motion picture industries have, but the concept of "state governments" is every bit the dinosaur.