Skip to comments.The Debate for California's Soul; Speech by Tom McClintock
Posted on 06/04/2005 5:50:01 PM PDT by calif_reaganite
Thank you for that kind reception. Cardinal Spellman once said that public speaking brings out the best of Christian virtues in an audience. If you applaud, as you just did, at the beginning of a speech, it is an act of faith. If you applaud in the middle of a speech, it is an act of hope. And if you applaud at the end of a speech, it is an act of charity.
So thank you for that act of faith, and I can only hope that by the time Im done, you are feeling just as charitable.
First, I want to extend my gratitude to all of you for your support of the California Club for Growth and to salute Tony Stricklands leadership of the Clubs efforts here in our state.
You are here because you remember what politicians often forget: that great political parties are built on great political principles. And they are judged by their devotion to those principles.
Abraham Lincoln said that every political party has a central idea from which all of its minor thoughts radiate. And at an inaugural stop at Independence Hall in 1861, he defined ours: he said, I have never had a feeling, politically, that did not spring from the sentiments embodied in the Declaration of Independence.
The great principle from which all of the Republican partys minor principles radiate is precisely that sentiment: that individuals are born with certain God-given rights that government exists to protect. In a word, Freedom.
And the central theme from which all of the Democratic Partys minor thoughts radiate is that government exists to order society according to the best lights of those in power.
The purpose of the Club for Growth is to remind everyone of the difference. And nothing could be more important for the future of the Republican party, because, as a practical matter, the closer the Republican party has adhered to its central theme the stronger it has become and the better it has done.
So, from the bottom of my heart, I thank you.
Ive been asked to propose a 12-point program to correct all the damage that a generation of liberalism has done to California. I can do it in one. Youll find it on the Liberty Bell Proclaim Liberty throughout the land and unto ALL the inhabitants thereof. Everything else is commentary.
If that sounds too pat, let me ask you for a show of hands. How many of you have friends or neighbors who have left California in the last several years for the middle of the Nevada or Arizona deserts?
Now let me ask you this question: could any conceivable act of God make this beautiful state a less desirable place for people to live and work and raise their families than the middle of the Nevada Nuclear Test Range?
Only government could do that. And it has.
If you want to know what California CAN be, you need only remember what California once was. A generation ago, Californias highways were the envy of the world. We had one of the finest school systems in the country and the finest university system in the world. Electricity was so cheap that there was serious discussion of abandoning electricity meters. The state water project promised abundant water supplies to complete the greening of California. Affordable housing abounded at all income levels. California really was the Golden State.
The Left tells us that thats the taxpayers fault for not being willing to spend enough money on government.
Here are the facts. Exactly 40 years ago, when Californians enjoyed an unparalleled quality of life, state government spent $202 for every man, woman and child. Adjusted for inflation, thats $1,240 in todays dollars. Today, California government consumes $3,200 for every person in the state two and a half times more in population-adjusted, inflation-adjusted terms.
Question: is this the fault of the taxpayers for not paying enough taxes or is it the fault of near-criminal mismanagement of Californias ample resources?
The fact is that the only thing that changed was public policy. And the good news is, thats in our power to change back.
Heres what happened: In 1974, Jerry Brown, known by his nickname, Moonbeam, brought to state government a radical and retrograde ideology that he called his era of limits. It amounted the naïve notion that if we stopped building things, people wouldnt come. So we stopped building roads; we stopped building dams, we stopped building powerplants, we stopped building homes and people came anyway.
This new age nonsense was accompanied by a far more sinister development, and that was the unionization and radicalization of Californias public employees. For the first time in our history, public employee unions were handed the power to force every public servant into their ranks to use government to extract from their pay unprecedented funds to fuel the political campaigns of their minions, to strike against the public interest, and in effect, to control both sides of the bargaining table.
The result has been the plundering of this states finances until despite record revenues despite a continuing and steady increase in the absolute size of government despite the fact that government today is consuming a larger portion of your earnings than at anytime in its history, we cant seem to scrape together enough money to build a decent road system or educate our kinds or protect our families from predators.
So the road back is not that complicated from a public policy side. Theres no reason why we cant have a balanced budget, lower taxes and a renewed commitment to public works, because that is EXACTLY what we had a generation ago.
So what do we do? The first thing we do is EVERYTHING WE CAN to support Governor Schwarzeneggers initiatives. I believe they are the most important public policy initiatives since Proposition 13 not just because of the policies they enact, but because they have become a defining struggle between the public employee unions and the people of California. If those unions can be confronted and defeated on these points, the state will be set for a series of constitutional reforms that will restore the Golden State that once was and will be again.
FIRST: We have to de-fund the Left. The Left gets most of its money not from voluntary contributions, but from plundering the paychecks of every public servant in California. Weve got to restore the freedom of our public servants to make their own decisions with their own paychecks.
SECOND: Restore the authority that the governor of this state had from 1939 until 1983 to make mid-year spending reductions whenever spending gets ahead of revenue. Thats Governor Schwarzeneggers Live Within Our Means Act, and it empowers the Governor to stop the states deficit spending dead in its tracks.
THIRD: Get the redistricting power out of the hands of the Legislature. Youve already heard from Ted Costa and Joel Fox on this subject.
The public employee unions know that if they are defeated on these points, they will have lost their grip on the government. And they also know that the stage will then be set for a sweeping period of government reform not known since the days of Hiram Johnson. Allow me to make these dozen modest proposals on the shape of those reforms:
FIRST: Restore the Gann Spending Limit that was state law from 1979 to 1990 restraining the growth of state spending to the combination of inflation and population growth. If the Gann Spending Limit had simply been left alone, there never would have been a fiscal crisis.
SECOND: Illegal aliens cost the State of California between $5 billion and $10 billion each year in direct expenditures from the States treasury. The Lefts response is to give them drivers licenses and, in San Francisco, the right to vote. A simple executive order needs to be issued by the governor to every department and law enforcement agency in California to report illegal aliens who are seeking state services to the Immigration and Naturalization Service for deportation.
THIRD: Californias prevailing wage regulations were re-written by the unions that in essence give them the power to set the wage rate on all public works projects. The governors appointees on the commission that promulgates these regulations should be instructed to conform the states prevailing wage regulations to the Federal Davis Bacon Act. Thats one billion dollars of additional roads, water projects and schools without a dime of additional expenditures.
FOURTH: A generation ago, state government focused on those projects that benefited all the people of California the state highway system, the state water project, the state parks and universities. Local projects that exclusively benefited local communities were paid for exclusively with local revenue. Today, as political power has been centralized in Sacramento, the state budget has become a grab-bag for local pork projects, literally robbing Piedmont to pay Pasadena. We can restore local government independence by separating the revenues of state and local governments and let local governments make their own decisions with their own money once again.
FIFTH: Despite improvements that were made last year, our Workers Compensation costs are still the highest in the nation. Meanwhile, next door Arizonans pay just once third the costs that we pay per $100 of personal income. What is so wrong with rescinding Californias Workers Compensation law that we know does not work and replacing it with Arizonas that we know does work?
SIXTH: Today, the biggest pitch that the Nevada Economic Development Commission uses to lure California businesses is the cost of litigation in this state. Let me suggest two simple reforms: First, remove punitive damages from the civil courts which were never designed to punish and, second, adopt the English rule that the loser of a civil suit should compensate the prevailing party for the court costs that the loser caused. The singular result would be to restore the civil courts to their original purpose to compensate one individual for losses caused by another. Period.
SEVENTH: Today we pay the highest electricity prices in the country, while a generation ago, there was serious discussion of doing away with electricity meters, because the stuff was becoming too cheap to bother to measure. In those days, we built hydroelectric plants that today generate power at a half-cent a kilowatt hour. At a half-cent a kilowatt hour, your average household electricity bill should come to roughly $30. PER YEAR. Our two nuclear powerplants are today producing 20% of the states power for 3 cents per kilowatt hour or $16 per month for an average family. Isnt it time we lifted the moratorium on the two cheapest and cleanest forms of electricity generation known to modern technology and get on with the process of scrapping our electricity meters?
EIGHTH: Californians are spending $166 billion per year for health care. Now get out a calculator. Thats over $18,000 for every family in California more than enough for a first rate health plan. The Left suggests putting our hospitals under the same management as the DMV. Heres my suggestion: replace our entire healthcare bureaucracy with a simple pre-paid, refundable tax credit to bring within the reach of every California family a basic health plan of their choice.
NINTH: Californians pay the 4th highest tax per gallon of gasoline in the country. And yet we rank dead last in our per capita spending on highways. Heres a radical idea: spend our highway money on our highways and our mass transit fares on our mass transit and let people decide for themselves what is the most efficient way to get to the office each day. And while were at it, sandblast the diamond lanes off our freeways it is lunacy to close an entire lane of a freeway to 93% of the traffic, all in the name of efficiency.
TENTH: California is one of the few states in the country that provide lifetime welfare benefits to individuals who overstay their federal welfare reform act of 1996 and save over $1 billion in direct welfare costs annually.
ELEVENTH: The governor this year has proposed spending over $10,000 per pupil from all sources on our public schools thats $300,000 for a classroom of 30 students. Perhaps a third of that is actually getting into the classroom. Heres another radical notion: Lets inject that money directly into the classroom and require each level of bureaucracy to justify how much theyre taking out of that classroom. Or, better still, restore to the parents the freedom to find the school that best meets their childs needs.
TWELFTH: A union-sponsored provision of the state constitution requires us to use the bureaucracy to provide state services even when they can be obtained far more cheaply from the private sector. I have always preferred the Yellow Pages test for state services: If it is in the Yellow Pages, the state shouldnt be doing it. By restoring to state government the freedom to shop around for the best service at the lowest price, we could save $9 billion across all departments, according to the Reason Foundations survey of state costs.
There are just a few of the reforms that have been proposed year in and year out in the state legislature and that together would clearly restore that Golden Age of California that those of us who lived there remember so well. But how do we enact them when our Legislature is controlled by the lunatic Left acting at the Direction of the public employees unions?
The answers is that we do not enact them through the Legislature we enact the around the Legislature. And thats why the Governor needs the support of every citizen in this state who believes that California is worth fighting for. And I have no doubt that we will succeed in the end because of what I learned during the recall election.
I discovered that there are moments in the life of a Democracy when people put aside their own pursuits and focus very intensely on the issues at hand. The recall was one of those rare elections when the people were totally completely focused on the future of California.
In those moments, advertising means nothing. Political parties mean less than nothing. News coverage means next to nothing. People actually listen to each of the candidates. They listen long and hard. And they form their own informed opinions.
And when they do that, their judgment is exceedingly good. In 2003, the result was the historic recall of a governor in a record turnout election. In that election, the Republican candidates for governor received a combined 62 percent of the vote literally two votes for every vote cast for the Democrats.
And I might add by the end of that campaign, according to every published poll from the Field to Gallup to the Los Angeles Times, the most conservative candidate (that was me, by the way) had the HIGHEST approval ratings and the most liberal candidate (Peter Camejo, of the Green Party) had the LOWEST approval ratings.
I dont say this to brag (all right, I do), but also to illustrate that the people of California when they are paying attention to the debate and actually listening to the candidates agree with us in overwhelming numbers.
I used to fret about public apathy. Thats not apathy. Thats just the process of getting up in the morning and getting the kids to school and getting to work on time and picking up the dry cleaning and all the other things we do to make our lives work. When things are going reasonably well or even reasonably poorly it doesnt make a lot of sense to devote a great deal of time and attention to politics.
So, in normal times Democracies tend to drift because nobody pays much attention to what government is doing. In that vacuum, special interests tend to dominate the system and they start to plunder it. And as the damage accumulates, public attention begins to focus.
It is when a crisis approaches, that the true strength of a Democracy emerges and it is an awesome thing. One by one, individual citizens sense the approach of a common danger and they rise to the occasion. One by one, people begin putting aside their daily cares and daily pleasures and begin to engage in their classic role as citizens not because they want to, but because they have to because the situation has become intolerable and can no longer be ignored.
We are watching that mobilization begin to sit today in California.
The ancient Athenians had a word for citizen that continues into modern usage today. The Athenians called a citizen a politicos, from which we get the word politician. In the Athenian view, when one accepted the rights and privileges of citizenship, one also assumed the responsibility of a politician.
Today, individual citizens are sensing that something is desperately wrong and one by one they are devoting their time and resources to setting things right.
And that process begins in groups like this, groups that gather not around politicians and not around parties, but around principles solid principles and the most solid principle of all Freedom.
To that principle the American founders pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor. How little is asked of our generation in support of that principle no one is asked to risk their lives or their fortunes. But one thing history does demand of us in full our sacred honor not to fail or falter until we have restored to our children that Golden State that land of opportunity that California that our parents gave to us.
>We have to de-fund the Left.<
(Denny Crane: "Sometimes you can only look for answers from God and failing that... and Fox News".)
Great thoughts from a truly great man
He's got my vote.
McClintock 'gets it'.
I'm glad hes hammering on the public unions banding together and funding the Democrat party with many millions of dollars. For that reason alone any Republican in any position of poltiical power should limit the number of government employees wherever possible.
They are the main cancer on our republic right now imo.
Let me know via freepmail if you want on or off this list.
Yep, you are so right about that!
This is an excellent speech by McClintock.
If any of you folks want on the 'McClintock Ping List,' freepmail me.
I guarantee you, it wasn't an act of God which drove millions of ex-Callifornians out of the state.
Earthquakes? Fires? Mudslides? Who cares about those?
He's right in the fact it was pure (evil) liberal government, and then some.
This pretty much the speech I heard Tom give to the Tax Payers League here in Eureka last month...
Sustained applause! Thunderous ovation!
'08 material? Great compendium of solutions. Makes me want to move back to CA and get busy.
Thanks for the ping!
Why does this man not run for President?
And that process begins in groups like this, groups that gather not around politicians and not around parties, but around principles solid principles and the most solid principle of all Freedom.
Excellent points. Follows up his speach a few weeks back about how the mood is beginning to shift.
The liberals days are numbered - so are the rino's.... people are getting fed up with the corruption. The baby boomers idealism is not shared by many of us in generation X. Frankly, we are pretty fed up with their crap. State employees retiring with 80-90% salary is way over the line.
Just as the United Airline and steel industry folks got their pensions slashed, there will come a day when I and my children will vote to lower these pensions. Not as revenge, but as a necessity. It may not be tomorrow, but it most assuredly will happen.
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