10 Nov The Solution to all of California’s Problems is Coming
Perhaps you heard the news today that California’s budget deficit is worse than people thought – as in, um, $25 billion. $25.4 billion to be precise, but I assure you that extra $ 0.4 billion is not causing anyone any anxiety. I mean, what is $400 million among Californians anyways? We are all kind of disappointed here in California because we were really hoping that the deficit would only be $18 or $19 billion, which feels pretty darn manageable, don’t you think? But alas, the Governator signed a budget last month that it turns out has a $6 billion funding shortfall. Keep in mind, that this budget is based on $87 of general fund spending, which I am sure most of you are thinking sounds like a pretty light figure. The politicians did cut the general spending plan from $103 billion to $87 billion, and clearly there is nothing else they can do – nothing.
Well I thought of something. And this is one of those blogs where I am writing with a lot of angry sarcasm so a lot of people are going to think I am kidding, and will miss the fact that I am dead serious. California’s budget problems go away tomorrow if they sell every nook and cranny of their miserable and pathetic public school system. I mean every program, every parcel of property, every brick, and every piece of mortar. And let me really add to the confusion of people wondering if I am being serious or not: I not only am totally serious that this is what they should do, but I guarantee you with absolute certainty that it is what they WILL do. Eventually.
I have no doubt that the entire system could be absorbed by a for-profit private school model (faced with competitive market pressures) through enough time. I also have no doubt that it would improve the quality of education being provided by whatever number is higher than infinity these days. As for the budget relief, well, since somehow we are going out of pocket roughly $60 billion per year for this mess of a system, it seems to me (based on the math they taught me in those elitist private schools) that we would trim the budget by about 69%. I think that if we cut our overhead by 69% we will survive, don’t you? And I also think that we would have a whole bunch of cash on hand by the time we are done selling all those assets. Come to think of it, maybe after my plan is enacted we could become one of those income-tax free states that seems to attract people who like that sort of thing? Dare to dream!
But here’s the deal: I know this is not going to happen exactly as I have laid out, and I know it is a lot of pain and misery away from happening (though that pain and misery is going to come). There is a law of nature some of us were taught to believe in: If something can not happen, it will not happen. This system is beyond repair, and it is only the unfathomable power of the teacher’s unions that has allowed this despicable state of affairs to take place. They can kick the can all they want, but it is not going to change the fact that we do not have a revenue problem in this state; we have a spending problem; and our spending problem is almost entirely related to the public school system. For now, the citizens are not quite mad enough to revolt and force the inevitable. But they are getting there. I used to think brilliant incremental reforms like vouchers and tax credits and to a lesser degree charter schools would force the hand of these unions. I no longer hold out hope for that incremental improvement. This system is unsustainable, and as the schools continue to erode into utter chaos, parents will demand better; citizens will refuse to pay the tax burden; bondholders will laugh at their attempts to borrow more; and BOOM – my prediction will come true. There is hope. And it will happen.
Now a lot of people might be worried, because we have a lot of superintendents and school district folks employed in this state, and if we privatize our school system we could make worse our unemployment problem. My response: no need to worry! I have seen what these guys make, and they are top dogs – the big cheese – the “A” team. They must know what they are doing. I am just sure that the new proprietors of California’s schools will want to retain these guys. Keep the faith!
Shake your head at my bitterness or laugh at my sarcasm, but remember this: if something can not happen, it will not. And what can not happen is California ever ever ever being a functional and healthy state with this albatross of a school system around its neck. For the sake of our kids and our taxpayers, pray I am right. Pray I am right soon.