Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Watching Arnold Pump Legislation

There is a man who lives in Southern California and who is originally from Austria. His sister also now lives in Southern California and owns a restaurant that specializes in Austrian food. Over the years the Austrian-born Arnold Schwarzenegger would occasionally visit the restaurant. The man and Arnold would generally briefly chat when he visited.

After Arnold announced he was running for governor, he visited the restaurant again. The man, who regularly chatted with Arnold in the past, rushed over to talk to Arnold, like in the old days. Arnold shrugged and indicated he couldn't talk to the man. "The bodyguards, the bodyguards. They won't let me," Arnold said.

Who knows what insight this provides into the man that is now governor of California?

The bodyguards wouldn't let him?

Recently, Arnold declared victory in getting a worker's compensation bill passed. The legislative conference committee that approved the bill did not receive it until a Thursday morning at 3:35 a. m. Three minutes later the six-member panel approved the 77-page bill unanimously, with no analysis presented and no copy of the bill given to anyone but the committee chair.

In reporting on the passage of the bill, The Los Angeles Times stated:

"...even some friendly Republican lawmakers were rattled by the governor's
methods...the workers' compensation revamp 'has not been done in an open and transparent manner...' said Assemblyman Keith Richman (R-Northridge)."

The Times went on to report that "The governor said: 'I always did campaign and say, 'Let the sun shine in and let the people be aware of what's going on.' Here though, 'we had to make decisions quickly.'"

The voters of California will most certainly give Arnold a pass on the way he pushed through this legislation. Indeed, the way he pushed through the legislation is probably not on their radar screen of concerns at all.

It appears that Californians are also ready to give Arnold a pass if he breaks another campaign promise, i.e. the campaign promise of not raising taxes.

A recent poll shows that most Californians would not be upset if taxes were raised and they wouldn't be upset with Arnold for breaking this promise.

You see, most Californians seem to like the "can do" governor, even if what he is doing is the opposite of what he promised.

Interestingly enough, it was the Austrian-born, Nobel Prize winning economist, Friedrich Hayek, in his brilliant book, The Road to Serfdom, who warned about such type politicians. He was writing about leaders of nations and of totalitarian regimes, but you have to wonder if some of what he wrote doesn't apply to Arnold.

In a chapter of the book titled, "How the Worst Get On Top," Hayek wrote:

"We must return for a moment to the position which precedes the suppression of democratic institutions... In this stage it is the general demand for a quick and determined government action that is the dominating element in the situation, dissatisfaction with the slow cumbersome course of democratic procedure which makes action for action's sake the goal. It is then the man or party who seems strong and
resolute enough 'to get things done' who exercises the greatest appeal."

That sure sounds like Arnold. Arnold wants to get things done."We had to make decisions quickly," he says.

What he is getting done with this can do action is the question, though.

He prides himself on being a free market oriented governor. But, it has to be asked if he really understands what free markets are about.

A 77-page workers compensation bill may be many things, but it is certainly not a free market product. In a free market, you don't have workers compensation bills at all. You leave it up to individual businesses to offer workers compensation packages, if they feel "the market" demands that they do.

As far as increased taxes are concerned, that is simply an expansion of government. It is taking it from the general public and passing it on to special interest groups of one sort or another.

In upcoming months, Arnold will have to deal with next year's California budget. As things stand now, a 14 billion dollar deficit exists. Arnold can solve the budget problem by standing firm on his no new taxes pledge and by starting to cut back on the bloated California government expenditures. Or, he can take the easy road, use some of his popularity to give a speech, tell all Californians that they must sacrifice "for the good of the special interests, er ah, the great state of California" and wack it to them by raising taxes in a very complex manner so they all think it is the other guy who will be paying most of the new taxes.

How Arnold deals with this budget deficit is going to be a good litmus test as to what kind of character we have here.

If he fights strongly to lower the budget and not raise taxes, then California may truly have a terminator of big government growth. On the other hand, if he does raise taxes, then California has nothing but another lying politician, who is watching which way the wind is blowing.

The whole country needs to keep an eye on how all this develops. Arnold has charisma and the Republican Party knows this. Utah Senator Orrin Hatch has introduced a resolution to amend the Constitution's ban on non-American-born presidents by allowing people who have been U.S. citizens for at least 20 years to be elected to the White House.

The Salt Lake City Tribune quotes Hatch as saying: "If Arnold Schwarzenegger turns out to be the greatest governor of California, which I hope he will, if he turns out to be a tremendous leader and he proves to everybody in this country that he's totally dedicated to this country as an American . . . we would be wrong not to give him that opportunity."

The greatest governor of California, Orrin? Will see about that. Maybe if his
bodyguards let him.

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