Jerry Brown’s Budget: We Can Do Much Better!

An Important Preamble

We as the human species really have one job on our to-do list, one responsibility, and that is to take care of the next generation. This means not just our kids or kids of people close to us, but the kids of the species. Everything else is secondary. Fortunately, we can live happy and meaningful lives while we’re handling this basic responsibility. As a matter of fact, that might be the only way we’ll be happy! As current times show, when we aren’t doing such a great job taking care of the next generation, we are likely to be leading lives filled with fear, resentment, excuses, and scapegoating.

We in California have power in this quest to set things up well for future generations across the planet. We have been looked up to in the past, not just for Hollywood but also for our education system. There is no reason our school system should be deteriorating. The current budget proposal is hailed by its author Governor Brown as turning a corner toward balanced budgets and better funding for education, but before we say, “Hail to the chief!” let’s take a moment to think about what we really want in California, and see how far we are from having that.

“We want him to win big!”

When I ran as the Green Party candidate for Governor in 2010, Jerry Brown won, easily, by 13 points. A friend asked his fellow voters, since there was no worry about Brown winning, would they please vote Green if that’s where their values really were – social justice, nonviolence, healthy environment, grassroots democracy and candidates who walk their talk by taking no corporate money. People responded, “We know Brown is going to win, but we want him to win big!” Same thing happened with Obama in 2012. People said, “We know Obama is going to win California, but we want him to win the popular vote in the country.”

“Who Are Our Champions?”

OK, so Brown won in 2010 and Obama won in 2012. They won, and won big, and yet why aren’t we happy with them? It reminds me of a plaintive question from the back of the room at a California Budget Project conference, “Who are our champions?” Apparently our “winners” are not our “champions.” They do not champion our causes. Why?

Pressure and Support

There is a basic approach in negotiating an agreement, whether it’s among peers, between parent and child, or between voters and candidates. Don’t “support” them by giving them everything they want and then expect they’ll do what you want! (Can I get a “Duh!”)

Elected officials have lots of pressures to deal with, and if voters vote for them no matter what they do (excusing their past behavior by saying at least they’re better than the other one), the elected officials would bow not to the voters, but to the pressures of the corporations who fund their political parties and campaigns. The people who decide how to allocate their candidate-purchasing funds do not say, “Oh well, you tried!” They will lower your pay. With voters, our elected officials just devise, issue by issue, a way to tell us what a great job they’re doing for us! They will remind us that, “Politics is the art of the possible,” and imply that, unfortunately, what we want and need for the future generations and ourselves is just not possible in this political climate. “This is the best that could possibly have been done!”

Jerry Brown vs. California

This leads us to Jerry “Look at what a great job I’m doing!” Brown. He is without question the most powerful political figure in California, so much so that it’s hard to figure who comes in second. And although he has responded to pressure, he had the power to do much more than he did. Last year he brought down the real Millionaires Tax and then began using the same name for his watered-down Prop 30. That was the focus of my blog “No Corporate Money vs. Jerry Brown” http://laurawellssolutions.com/2013/01/01/no-corporate-money-vs-jerry-brown/

The annual Forbes list of the richest people in America should come out in the next few months, and we’ll see if the progression continues. In 2011 the state had 85 billionaires and I put that on a sign and carried it to rallies until the new list came out in 2012 and I had to revise the sign to read 94 billionaires. The economy was improving, for a few! (See also blog  http://laurawellssolutions.com/2012/12/05/tax-the-rich-to-reduce-the-disparity/)

That’s where the money is – in the hands of the super-rich and their corporations. Jerry Brown is calling it a success that he allowed a tiny chip to be taken out of the huge cuts that he and his predecessor Schwarzenegger presided over during the past several years. There are lots of taxes that could be implemented; lots of proposals are in the pipeline; voters just gave the Jerry Brown and his Titanic party super-majorities in both houses of the legislature; and so what will our Gatekeeper-in-Chief allow to progress?

What can we do about it?

We have lots of power, and nobody knows that better than the 1%. There’s a lot we can do, and one of them is to join with the No Corporate Money campaign that you will hear more about – from grassroots sources not mainstream media – in the coming months. When we have 1 or 2 or a majority in our governmental bodies, No Corporate Money candidates will champion regular people and our next generation without having to toe the line and bow to pressure from corporations. Which reminds me of a third blog for you to check out, http://laurawellssolutions.com/2012/10/19/no-corporate-money-campaign/

There are many other things that we can do, and that we are doing. We won’t stop strategizing for change, organizing, using the power we already have, using our wallets according to our values, taking to the streets, taking to the voting booth, whatever it takes to take care of the next generation, and ourselves in the process. And we know we can lead happy and meaningful lives too.

About Laura Wells: Solutions
I ran for Controller in California in 2014 on a State Bank and Tax The Rich platform. I am part of the “No Corporate Money” Campaign, in which candidates pledge to take no corporate money and voters declare our intention to vote for no-corporate-money candidates. As a Green Party candidate for Governor of California in 2010, I was arrested outside a gubernatorial debate for “trespassing at a private party.” But we won't stop, and so let's create a "public party" where we debate solutions to California's finances, like implementing a State Bank and taxing the rich -- to reduce the disparity and open up opportunities. Twitter: @LauraWellsCA

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