- Written by Ken Alpern
21 Aug 2012
THE MYTHBUSTER: It’s with both amusement and despair that we observe the widespread apathy of so many towards our local, state or national political battles—and who often shun relevant publications (online or print) such as CityWatch, the Times or any national magazine—because they’d rather immerse themselves in Fantasy Football, the Kardashian brood, the latest celebrity meltdown or any other meaningless escape from reality.
But is it those who are apathetic, or those wrapped in various causes, who truly live in the real world?
Consider the following talking points that keep getting forced down taxpayers’ collective throat, and the harsh response to those who merely ask, “Excuse me, but does the evidence really point out that this “truism” is really true, or is just a myth?”
● Myth #1: If you don’t support teachers unions, then you hate unions, you hate teachers … and you probably don’t care about kids.
It’s nice to see that the Times has now come out with what so many of us know to be obvious: The California Teachers Association (CTA), and those other unions aligned with it (such as United Teachers Los Angeles), have a stranglehold of power in what should be a more balanced power arrangement in Sacramento.
If a politician wishes to seek/keep power in Sacramento, and wishes to limit the CTA’s influence to balance the need of other budgetary priorities and the needs of the taxpayers …t hen the CTA will politically KILL that politician. Over 40% of the state budget is apparently not enough to please the CTA, and if Sacramento wants to facilitate the removal of teachers who mistreat or molest their kids … then woe become unto those who fight to protect our children.
Lifelong Democrat Michelle Rhee and other teachers and reformers have to be defensive about their efforts to enhance the partnerships between teachers, parents and students, and the movie/documentary “Waiting for Superman” is still met with scorn and derision by teacher unions.
The fact remains that many teachers, and many pro-union supporters, recognize the CTA, UTLA and other teachers unions as unhinged and self-serving—in the same way that many capitalists now recognize Wall Street and global banks as equally unhinged and self-serving—and who don’t represent the average teacher nearly as much as they claim to.
● Myth #2: If you don’t support police, fire and other municipal unions, then you hate our public sector and what they do for us.
Seriously, why would any normal human being not respect and support our police officers, firefighters and other heroes who keep us safe on a daily basis? For that matter, why would any normal human being not respect and support our teachers, librarians, parks/recreation staff and postal workers? So when the need arises for restructuring as LA’s pension costs skyrocket, why are those asking for the restructuring belittled and intimidated?
There’s a reason why Franklin Delano Roosevelt, a big supporter of unions, opposed public sector unions: because they prevented any politician from defending the taxpayers and balancing the budget when the economy and finances required it. Which is not to say that public sector unions are wrong altogether, but clearly the strategy of grabbing taxpayers by the ankles and shaking them down for more taxes won’t fly as more Californian cities go broke.
So while pathological leftists like the Times’ so-called “economist” Michael Hiltzik decry efforts like Proposition 32 to reign in public sector unions when they become more abusive to taxpayers than they are defensive to hard-working employees, questions must be raised, such as:
Is it really fair to hurt younger civil servants while the older and retired civil servants get deals that weren’t, and aren’t, sustainable? Do we really want more cities (even LA) to enter into Chapter 9 bankruptcy, or layoff police or fire or other valued civil servants?
● Myth #3: If you don’t support our aggressive efforts to create more clean energy, you hate the environment, you hate people, and you’re just … plain … BAD!
As a member of the Sierra Club, and as someone who’s loved our National Parks Service since childhood, I don’t know when the pleas for cleaner energy became bullying tactics meant to grab taxpayer funds and ignore the plight of beleaguered taxpayers and utility ratepayers. But that time has now come, and critical questions—scientific, moral questions based on rational thought and fairness, not based on screaming or browbeating—merit answering:
If green energy (which is, of course, a quality part of any long-term energy plan) is so cost-effective, then why does solar and wind generate so little kilowatts and demand so many tax subsidies, and generate such shocking-low energy output, compared to standard energy sources such as gas, coal and oil? And just how ARE the economies of states that choose to “go green” within 10-20 years compared to those who don’t?
● Myth #4: Medical Marijuana in this state is both enlightened and medically proven to help our society and economy, and if you don’t like that then you’re a throwback to the ignorant past.
There’s a reason why the LA City Council had to walk back its “open-minded” approach to “medical marijuana dispensaries”, just as it had to walk back its original embracing of Occupy LA after it trashed parts of Downtown. Far from the open-minded efforts of voters to allow a new form of symptomatic relief and treatment of cancer, cachexia and other degenerative disorders, too many “dispensaries” took advantage of our kindness and became drug dealing neighborhood blights.
While the pot dispensaries will assuredly fight back as vigorously as did Occupy LA, it’s to be reminded that there’s a difference between being liberal and open-minded on the one hand, and stupid and immoral on the other. We remove the medical licenses of, and even imprison, doctors who inappropriately prescribe narcotics, so why should misbehaving medical marijuana dispensaries expect any less?
● Myth #5: California’s university systems value the taxpayers who built and support them, and recognize their importance to California families who need and deserve these universities to educate their children.
As Californian taxpayers watch tuitions skyrocket, and as both CSU and UC administrators’ salaries and perks skyrocket even faster, these universities are becoming increasingly less available and affordable as higher-paying out-of-state and international students are allowed more access to the college systems that owe their very existence to Californian taxpayers.
The problem is, of course, that as more non-California residents get access to these universities, the less that California residents can get access, which is a serious question that many CSU professors and officials are having to grapple with.
● Myth #6: Granting undocumented immigrants rights is a no-brainer, and it’s mean-spirited and even racist to hold them back.
Questioning the policy of granting illegal aliens—er, undocumented immigrants—asylum is a first-class way to get shouted down with a torrent of name-calling and intimidation. Whether one agrees with or disagrees with the constitutionally-questionable (and highly political) arrangement of President Obama to provide limited amnesty for young individuals brought here illegally by their parents, problems and questions get raised by the dozen, such as:
Are there any rules that will remain for us to adhere to? How do local entities such as the California DMV actually implement rights for those not here legally? What about those trying to immigrate here legally—do they now get special rights? If those brought here illegally when young are victims, do we now throw out their parents who clearly broke the law?
Most importantly, if we want closure on this thorny issue and a new generation of loyal Americans (even those brought here illegally as children), will there be an easy amnesty or a more demanding and solid repayment of the costly services (health, education, social services) provided to those whose parents broke the law?
● Myth #7: The state, cities and counties all recognize that the money taxpayers provide for services rendered is a valued and carefully-considered covenant between the government and the taxpayers that government serves.
This is, bar none, the most paper-thin myth of all in this state, and certainly in this city. It’s difficult to explain to my son about the Revolutionary War, the Boston Tea Party and the concept of “taxation without representation”, as he both learns it in school and sees these arguments being sharply debated in this country during these modern times.
The wasting of Caltrans money on unjustified and overpriced repairs it purchased in Pasadena for an I-710 extension it never built is just the latest example of how our state government forgets that IT is supposed to serve the TAXPAYERS, and not the other way around.
The $200 million of undiscovered (and inappropriately, perhaps illegally) sheltered state funds is another example of how difficult it will be for Governor Brown, the Sacramento Legislature and the California Teachers Association to convince taxpayers they need to raise their taxes yet AGAIN.
And as the “evil rich” are demonized and virtually forced to flee the Golden State—good riddance, right?—is ANY thought being given to the loss of jobs and the drop in the economy that prevent us from funding our governmental budgetary priorities? Are those of us who stay open to paying more for a diminished return in our taxes?
So while Big Government and Big Banking duke it out, and while the union-owned Democratic Party and the corporate-owned Republican Party leave the average American (Californian or otherwise) disillusioned, burned-out, hopeless and otherwise numb, perhaps those who choose NOT to read the newspaper, or CityWatch, or anything else are the ones who know and understand reality more than those of us who still take on the daily fight over our current issues.
Nothing is ever going to change, one can’t fight City Hall, etc, so perhaps the rest of us ought to tune out the humdrum from City Hall, Sacramento and even Washington.
Of course, that leaves this one stark reality to confront: as the old expression goes, The Only Way for Evil to Triumph over Good Is for Enough Men to Do Nothing.
Vol 10 Issue 67
Pub: Aug 21, 2012