Bureaucrat Beat: Fire the Tooth Fairies, Contagious Mirth, and Government by Bribes

After California legislators made an indescribable mess of the state budget, now they want voters to endorse the pathetic way out. We elected them to manage things. They need to find a way out without hurting more people. We in the Bureaucrat Beat newsroom believed State Treasurer Bill Lockyer when he said the elected officials in Sacramento had engaged in “tooth fairy budgeting”. He’s in a position to know. So, basically, they’ve all failed in their jobs and, as one of our staff insists, “They’re all fired!”

The painful weeks of lay-off threats and loss of government funds locally has created a sour attitude about Sacramento. Some folks want to hold what’s called a Constitutional Convention to deal with water, prisons and budget paralysis. In fact, the Sierra Business Council has joined the effort to create a Constitutional Convention, which is a serious forum for government discussion and change. Officials could propose a series of reforms to go on the ballot.

In a press release, the Sierra Business Council said, “We need our state government acting as a functional partner with business in these trying times, not embroiled in semi-annual budget stalemates.” The SBC President, Steven Frisch, said that California legislators have enabled a “wild cycle of boom or bust with excess revenue being spent unwisely in good times and shortfalls forcing us to make cruel cuts in services to the most needy in hard times.”

He’s sure right about that. Unless the federal stimulus money makes up for it, California will cut Medi-Cal benefits, money to CalWorks, Supplemental Security Income and many other social services needed by those who already live on the ragged edge.

Just in case the government hasn’t figured out that a growing number of our citizens live in poverty, they will spend the money to pay the Census Bureau to survey 100,000 households across the nation to see how poor they have grown.
So we don’t sink too deeply in despair, here’s news from Harvard Medical School. Studies show that “actions and feelings can be as contagious as a virus.” Their research shows that friends, friends of friends and even friends of friends of friends alter our own moods and attitudes. Feelings, they found, run through a network of people like ripples on a pond. Happiness is, well, contagious! We kind of knew that, but found scientific evidence fascinating. The scientists recommend that you hob knob with upbeat types and people you want to emulate. That’s why we in the Bureaucrat Beat newsroom hang together because we share the same curmudgeon-like cynicism with which we observe the world and hold our own center of balance. In short, it works for us.

Some in the Eastern Sierra wish they could work. Talk about locals left out. One of our listeners emailed to ask why there are three local construction jobs in Inyo County and no local laborers, operators or teamsters at work on them. Why, the man posed, would CalTrans allow companies to bring up their own work force and not hire any locals? This man said that Skanska, at work on the Black Rock four-lane project, did hire some locals but none of the others have. This man said that Caltrans has $100 million in projects and refuses to let local people in on the jobs. We have placed calls to Caltrans to learn more about their policies.

Just a comment right now on the system of what looks to us like bribery. We mean the system of political campaign contributions by special interests that seem to buy the votes of Congress and the Senate. No doubt the same story on the state level. Until someone pulls the veil of corruption away from this practice, government will flounder for the people.bribery.jpg

Case in point. You may recall the horrible video of an east Tennessee community where a coal ash pond collapsed and sent billions of gallons of coal ash into their homes, water supplies and river. Seems regulation over these coal ash ponds is what some have described as “casual.” The Environment Protection Agency refuses to regulate them. Seems that for the past two years, power companies have donated $16 million to political campaigns – both parties. No wonder the federal government uses a hands-off approach to regulation of coal ash. The horror that happened to that Tennessee community may change the corruption. We’ll see.

What do bureaucrats do on their furloughed Fridays off? This could amount to a time of soul searching or just another day to recreate. We hope it is the former. In fact, mandatory introspection might find us all a little better off.

Yo-yos find robots better off. Back to the scientific. Seems experiments with robotic creatures found that if the metallic characters can use a yo-yo or juggle, they can walk better. We’ve got to go now so we can buy yo-yos for the Bureaucrat Beat newsroom.

With that, this is Benett Kessler signing off for Bureaucrat Beat where we await your word on our lives in the Eastern Sierra and beyond.

 
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