Wednesday, July 01, 2009

The Terminator's California Shock Doctrine

Governor Terminator and his Republican minions are ignoring the efforts of the Democratic majority in the California legislature to address the state budget with a mix of cuts and new revenue, which is just simple sanity. The Terminator is trying to force deeper and more extensive cuts, with no new revenue. Today he is succeeding a little more.

At least one writer at Caltics is now using "shock doctrine" as a verb, as in the Governor is shock doctrining the budget. And it's all too apt. Naomi Klein's book, The Shock Doctrine, shows how the political forces of predatory capitalism used economic and other major shocks in one country after another--causing some, taking advantage of others--to institute severe measures that benefit them, but that the people would not allow under ordinary circumstances. We saw the Bushites institute their own Shock Doctrine after 9-11, leaving us with a legacy of torture, the Patriot Act, a wrecked economy after billions returned to the rich, and billions more flowed to the contractors who profited from Iraq and the war on terror.

The Terminator is bringing the Shock Doctrine to California. And the message he and the Republicans are sending is clear: when times are tough, take it out on the poor. The Terminator wants to balance the budget on the backs of the poor, the sick and the working middle class.

Like other shock doctrine changes, it is self-defeating and massively destructive in the long run. In this case, the state will be pissing away billions in federal funds, and tying the state up in court cases for years, many of which it will lose, as it has already. There are laws against penalizing the poor and the sick to such an extent. Everyone loses from deteriorating public health and education, part of the community's basic infrastructure.

These are days of shame for California, in uncountable ways. Self-destruction, which began slowly with Prop 13 a generation ago, is accelerating. There is no solution in sight.

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