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Thursday, July 2, 2009

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Arnold Hooverman

See California's Department of Finance statement of the July Revision. ALL of the cuts, nearly $5 billion, come from state employee furloughs, K-14 education, and higher education. $5 billion is about what Schwarzenegger's re-lowering of the Vehicle License Fee in November 2003 cost the state, and then his all-cuts dogma on the new budget cost the state another $3.3 billion yesterday.

The California Report's John Myer reported that Arnold Schwarzenegger threatened to veto everything, including one of his own proposals. Same goes for Evan Harper on To the Point.

In French, Arnold is a pompier pyromane - a pyro-fireman, pretending to put out fires he started himself.

In German, he is the living Ausnahmezustand, Carl Schmitt's state of emergency which can be declared by the sovereign, and which demonstrates beyond doubt his sovereignty. Arnold is prompting imitators in California politics, as in UC President Mark Yudof's proposal for a new Regental Standing Order granting him the power to declare an emergency and take unilateral budgetary action, particularly furloughs and salary cuts. He must define the emergency and consult, unless he decides that the emergency does not allow consultation. (All of those exception clauses should be striken.)

In English, Arnold is the walking, talking shock doctrine. This is Naomi Klein's term for the use of force to get people to accept solutions they hate and would otherwise reject. She associates it with governments like the Milton-Friedman assisted Pinchot dictatorship in Chile, but we see plenty of it in the US and in California. The US political Right has used institutional control and ideological and culture wars to defeat New Deal type liberalism. Budget wars are more effective, since against budget arguments most people are defenseless, and since economic crises, Klein argued this point well in relation to the financial crisis, in which disaster has been used by its propagators as a way of getting hundreds of billions of dollars that the public would have otherwise happily refused them.

Arnold's economic policies are massively unpopular, and cuts go down to defeat even in polls like the April Field Poll that ask questions that always elicit anti-tax reflexes (do you want to pay more taxes to close the state deficit - no. Do you want to pay more taxes for free school lunches and elder home care? yes.)

I have no insight into Arnold's personal motives. But I can see that he's a conservative hardliner with a lifetime of muscleman resolutions. He's also the chief executive of a state with a population almost as large as Spain's, and is a key figure in the Right's self-defense in its moment of greatest danger since the 1960s, when its economic ideology has massively failed on its home turf, and when New Deals are being promised for all by the Obama federal government.

Arnold is destroying the Obama stimulus in California, and taking out the economy at the same time. The best way to sabotage an economic recovery is to induce layoffs, cut pay, destabilize the public sector, and create a climate of uncertainty veering toward chaos. Arnold is now doing this systematically. He is recreating Hoover's depression politics, not because he doesn't know any better, but for political advantage.

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