In his latest column, political pundit and former presidential candidate Pat Buchanan warns that fiscally strapped California is about to hit the wall and all Americans should be watching and wary – since the destiny of the most populous state is the destiny of the whole nation.
Buchanan paints a grim portrait of a state going eyeball to eyeball in mid-summer with a staggering $24 billion unpaid bill. What’s worse is that no relief seems to be in sight.
When Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger sought federal loan guarantees for new state bonds, “the Obama-ites slammed the door,” fearing to shock already reeling citizens with yet another huge spending program.
Meanwhile, in the state capital, Republicans grimly dig in to fight off any new tax revenue.
What’s the desperate state to do?
Buchanan bullets a number of California’s fiscal last-stands – all of which may be duplicated in some form or another across the country in a not-so-distant future: Some 38,000 of 168,000 state prisoners may be released. California will cut Medi-Cal for the poor. Education will be slashed, resulting in a shortened school year, thousands of laid-off teachers, school closings and an end to summer programs in a system that has plummeted from the nation’s best to one of its worst. The 10 campuses of the University of California face cuts that may result in 50,000 fewer students and 5,000 fewer teachers.
Into the Looking Glass
“[T]he demography of California today is the demography of America tomorrow -- just as the social and fiscal policies of California in the last decade mirror those of the U.S. government today,” advised Buchanan.
In California, he wrote, “the well-to-do and the wealthy are hammered [with the largest share of the taxes], which is why many have quietly closed their businesses, packed and gone back over the mountains whence their fathers came.”
Just as the U.S. government has undertaken huge new (and expensive) responsibilities, California also went on a spending spree – issuing bonds when state revenues did not cover the costs.
Predictably, Buchanan instructed, the irresponsible spending sent its credit rating down the tubes. “So, too, U.S. Treasury bonds, T-bills and the American dollar are now increasingly suspect,” he advised.
Demographically, California is where America will be in 2040, he warned. The racially diverse but dysfunctional and distrustful city of Los Angeles is the model big city of America’s relentlessly approaching future.
“White folks, who are leaving California as they did in the millions in the 1990s, are below half the population. Hispanics, their numbers surging due to legal and illegal immigration, are well over a third of the population. The African-American share of California’s population is also falling, as the Asian share is rising, again from immigration,” Buchanan instructed.
But watch out, he wrote, certain vital safety valves are being screwed shut – resulting in the columnist’s parting rhetorical question.
“Californians who are running away from the communities and towns in which they were raised have Arizona, Idaho, Colorado, Utah and Nevada to head to. But when all of America arrives at where California is at today, where do the Americans run to?”
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