Hot-Button Views to Peruse … If You Can Handle It

ALPERN AT LARGE - The familiar adage “you can’t handle the truth!” is one we’re all familiar with, but still holds water with virtually all of us.  Heaven knows that we are our own worst enemy, and that human beings have an inherent habit of lying to ourselves.  Maybe we just can NOT always handle the truth, no matter how obvious it is.

Example: after decades of Democratic pols decrying Sacramento’s evil Republican governors and legislators as those who hate the poor and helpless, it does appear that uber-Democrat Jerry Brown is doing what Arnold Schwarzenegger couldn’t do with the Democratic Party-dominated Legislature:  cut state social spending programs that haven’t been sustainable for years. (Link)

So…we might conclude that Democratic legislators in Sacramento appear to be willing to cut our state’s health and welfare programs only for Democratic governors…if you can handle it.

Among the painful but necessary (and, arguably, courageous) decisions that Governor Brown has done was to abolish Community Redevelopment Agencies, which have done a few good things but have a dreadful history of favoring politically-connected developers at taxpayer expense (link).

So …  we might conclude that, when push comes to shove, the role of city and state government is not to subsidize developers, whether it’s under the aegis of affordable housing or any other gimmick, and that in this state only a liberal Democrat has the ability and freedom to cut unnecessary layers of government … if you can handle it.

And even though Governor Brown’s tax plan might not be enough to close the state’s budget deficit (link), it is of note that it’s politically balanced by raising higher earners’ income taxes as well as also relying on a sales tax to make sure the extra revenue is high enough.

So … we might conclude that the era of demonizing conservative and libertarian folks who claim  we’re asking too few to pay too much of the state’s tax revenues is coming to an end, and that we’re moving towards consumption, not income taxes, to ensure we have sufficient tax revenues and make sure everyone has some skin in the game … if you can handle it.

Meanwhile, after the LA Times editorial board virtually gave a shrug to the Democratic Party that undermined the voter-approved redistricting process and a laugh at the GOP for not doing the same (link), it gave a fairly supportive response to Governor Brown’s budget cuts that would have brought a howl of outrage had Governor Schwarzenegger made those same cuts.

So  …the Times-promoted claim that the LA Times editorial board is more “balanced” than in previous years, and is not a prostrated and prostituted mouthpiece of the Democratic Party, is as ridiculous as claiming Rush Limbaugh is a balanced and moderate talk radio host … if you can handle it.

And we also might conclude that the previous approach of many Republicans who “courageously” gave in to media and Democratic demands to raise taxes—and who got destroyed in the past state elections—will not be pursued again anytime soon, because by enduring the withering criticism and sticking to their principles, the current state Republicans are getting their way, as evidenced by Sacramento’s recent sharp turn in a fiscally conservative direction … if you can handle it.

But let’s not be too nice to the Sacramento GOP—the only good thing about Governor Schwarzenegger’s antics, tactics and budgeting games is that it gives Governor Brown the evidence and moral authority to convince the Legislature that kicking the budgetary can down the road just absolutely and positively cannot be done, anymore … if you can handle it.

And let’s not presume that GOP gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman lost because she was too conservative, but rather because she proved to be a politician who, like Schwarzenegger, stood for nothing … if you can handle it.

Although it’s doubtful the politically-obsessed Democratic Legislature would ever have agreed to the budget cuts proposed by Governor Brown had it come from Meg Whitman were she to have won the gubernatorial election … if you can handle it.

And although it makes sense that Governor Brown will make the state government “give ‘til it hurts” in order to convince the voters to raise taxes, the biggest obstacle to all new taxes (either at the state or local level) is the perception that pension reform, public sector compensation abuse and the methodology of spending are all rampant with abuse and ineptitude. (Link)

And we’re not quite at the point where we’ve cleaned up our local and state government, so any taxpayer bailouts are potentially still years away … if you can handle it.

On a personal note, I admit to respecting, cherishing and loving my wife the most when she proves me wrong and makes me confront the rationalizations and presumptions to which I adhere and which steer me away from the painful truth.  It’s tough to swallow the ugly reality that our heroes are anything but, and that our guiding principles might need some serious reconsideration.

Yet the organized, mature, and impartial mind has no problem being proven wrong, and often finds the knowledge of being wrong as a liberating experience.  It is as human to lie or presume as it is to confront and discard that lie or presumption.

Can you handle it?

(Ken Alpern is a former Boardmember of the Mar Vista Community Council (MVCC), previously co-chaired its Planning and Outreach Committees, and currently is Vice Chair of its MVCC Transportation/Infrastructure Committee. He is co-chair of the CD11 Transportation Advisory Committee and chairs the nonprofit Transit Coalition, and can be reached at [email protected] He also co-chairs the grassroots Friends of the Green Line at   The views expressed in this article are solely those of Mr. Alpern.) -cw

Tags: Ken Alpern, politics, Governor Brown, Governor Schwarzenegger, LA Times, Democratic, Republican, truth

Vol 10 Issue 4
Pub: Jan 13, 2012