Mon, Jun

Sacramento Chooses Politics Over Economics.  The Middle Class Continues to Bleed


THE DOCTOR IS IN - Maybe some of you reading this think inflation is great.

Maybe some of you reading this believe that the cost of gasoline and food shooting upwards is great. Maybe some of you believe that the shortage of affordable housing is great.  

I don't. 

As ridiculous as it might seem, I've heard plenty of foolish and zealous (usually socialist or libertarian) wonks justify the above as "for the greater good" or "good in the long run" or "eyes on the prize". 

We're in a Demand-Pull Inflation, whereby a combination of (among other factors) demand surpassing supply (think supply-chain crises), increased government spending, and flooding the money supply with too few goods have nailed us with respect to inflation.

California's state government is now flush with a $97.5 billion surplus (let's round it up to $100 billion, shall we?), and in bygone eras that money would lead to lower taxes to allow individuals and businesses to choose to invest THEIR money in what THEY need the most.

But THIS Sacramento government led by Governor Newsom, who wants to tell Californians how best to spend their money, wants to redistribute the extra money in ways that SACRAMENTO wants its citizens to do.

So, the ways that Governor Newsom will dole out OUR money is as follows:

1) $11.5 Billion for Tax Refunds to (Supposed) Help Address Inflation--Californians, with every eligible registered vehicle owner getting a $400 check, capped at two checks per individual. 

Which will be nice for about a month or so. Lowering the gas tax to reduce the cost of a gallon of gas? Forget it!

2) $2.7 Billion for Emergency Rental Assistance--For low-income tenants who requested rental assistance before March 31.

Which will be nice for about a month or so. Incentivizing and enforcing rules and benefits for lowering rents in the long term? Forget it!

3) $1.4 Billion to Help Californians Pay Past-Due Utility Bills--Yep, the utility bills are indeed high. Lots to blame for the cost of water and gas going up.

This will be nice for about a month or so--investing in cost-effective energy and water policy? Getting over the zealots (usually wealthy) who don't give a damn about the impacts of high utilities on the middle class? Forget it!

4) $933 Million for Hospital and Nursing Home Staff--providing up to $1,500 per hospital and skilled nursing facility workers who we need more than ever during COVID-19 and a worsening nursing shortage

Which will be nice for about a month or so...or maybe even just two weeks. Addressing the costs of training and hiring more nurses? Forget it!

The rest will go to free public transit, allowing more affordable health coverage, pausing the diesel sales tax (not for the unleaded gas most of us use), and childcare fees for low-income families.

Which will all be good for about a month...some will say a bit longer, but it's still not addressing the problems with inflation, and how to fight it.

But that would be a job for front-line economists, just as public health policy would have to be a job for front-line physicians. 

And we will instead rely on politicians with little to no knowledge (or interest learning) of economics, physics, medicine, or anything else that strays away from political expediency.

And we just keep electing 'em, don't we?

(Kenneth S. Alpern, M.D, is a dermatologist who has served in clinics in Los Angeles, Orange, and Riverside Counties, and is a proud husband and father to two cherished children and a wonderful wife. He was termed out of the Mar Vista Community Council (MVCC) twice after two stints as a Board member for 9, years and is also a Board member of the Westside Village Homeowners Association. He previously co-chaired the MVCC Outreach, Planning, and Transportation/Infrastructure Committees for 10 years. He was previously co-chair of the CD11 Transportation Advisory Committee, the grassroots Friends of the Green Line (which focused on a Green Line/LAX connection), and the nonprofit Transit Coalition His latest project is his fictional online book entitled The Unforgotten Tales of Middle-Earth and can be reached at [email protected]. The views expressed in this article are solely those of Dr. Alpern.)


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