A “Conservative” Response Puts Eran in His Place

sea lionConservative Erin Cronan objects to my Disaster Capitalism in the Budget Debate, and writes that the State spends millions on things she believes are senseless; therefore, California must cut spending. It’s like so…obvious!

Among other things, she disapproves of a museum, (“that nobody has ever heard of”) spending to save sea lions (who “disappear[ed] a week later”) and “some two inch fish that nobody’s heard of … on the endangered species list.”

Never mind that the Delta Smelt (see, now you’ve heard of it!) is essential to the health of California’s salmon fisheries, the ultimate authority, Erin Cronan, has never heard of it, so it must be useless.

“State salaries and pensions are completely out of control,” asserts the plucky Ms. Cronan. Never mind the studies showing public employees receive slightly less compensation, or even the recent study-with-an-agenda that says they get slightly more than private sector workers for equivalent jobs. Accounts of slight differences are inaccurate; salaries are “completely out of control.”

Ms. Cronan has probably not heard that taxpayers “are directly responsible for only about 14 percent of public [employees’] retirement benefits”, or that Wall Street frauds are behind the bulk of current public pension problems. Says one expert: “If pension funds had earned returns just equal to the interest rate on 30-year Treasury bonds in the three years since 2007 [rather than diminishing because of fraudulent mortgage-backed securities], their assets would be more than $850 billion greater than they are today.”

Do record corporate profits and record high incomes for the wealthy coupled with record low taxes for both cause government deficits? No, Democrats and their “out of control” spending, are behind deficits, says Ms. Cronan.

Because of Prop 13’s restrictions on raising taxes, Republicans have a veto on any proposal raising State revenues, so never mind that polls say “more than two-thirds of [California] adults support raising taxes on the state’s wealthiest earners.” Deficits are entirely the Democrats’ fault because they “created the budget and spent the money,” says Ms. Cronan.

U.S. GDP is now more than it was before the Great Recession, even before the Clinton budget surpluses, but I’m guessing Ms. Cronan believes the public sector is broke because the economy is broke, despite any contrary facts.

Do California’s employment problems come from the Great Recession (originating in under-regulation of sub-prime lenders) or from our State’s “ridiculous regulations”? Economic problems must be the over-regulating Democrats’ fault, asserts Ms. Cronan. We can safely ignore studies saying the economy fares worse under Republicans administrations (“Not only was their overall [economic] performance worse than Democrats, but it was wildly tilted toward the well off.”)

So never mind the facts! Republicans have anecdotes about how we spend “millions of dollars every month on food stamps and welfare checks for illegal immigrants,” as Ms. Cronan asserts. Sure, the American Immigration Lawyers Association reminds us: “…undocumented immigrants are not eligible to receive any ‘welfare’ benefits and even legal immigrants are severely restricted in the benefits they can receive.” But that’s lawyers, what can they know?

Unfortunately, Ms. Cronan is completely unconvinced that any facts offer more guidance than her ignorance, or anecdotes from Rush Limbaugh’s preferred narrative. Nah, facts are for commies and losers! Any current public policy problem is the Democrats’ fault, and that’s that.

So my best wishes to Ms. Cronan, and anyone else committed to willful blindness about facts, with an added plea: Please, be careful not to bump into the furniture. Meanwhile, I will refrain from calling Ms. Cronan “the barbarian.”

Adam Eran

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