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Ray Haynes

Mr. Haynes is an Assembly member representing Riverside and Temecula. He serves on the Appropriations and Budget Committees. [go to Assembly Member Haynes website at California Assembly]

When Chaos is Good
Finally, we can all see the result of failed leadership
[Ray Haynes] 8/12/03

Politicians always have an odd definition of chaos. In their minds, a political structure is in chaos anytime they are not in charge of it or they are in danger of losing power. Gray Davis, for the first time in his tenure as Governor, is finally worried about the breakdown of state government, and the cost of a government program. He has complained about the cost of the recall, and how the recall will affect the stability of California state government. I say it’s about time.

This past week another bond company reduced California’s bond rating. With the latest downgrade, California’s bonds are only slightly more desirable than the bankrupt (and out of business) Enron Corporation. He has tried to blame the recall. But the truth is, California’s bond rating has been on the ropes for over a year. When Davis took over as Governor, he inherited a strong economy, a strong budget, and a strong credit rating. Governor Wilson, who took over in the midst of a recession, had strengthened the business climate in California, reduced regulations and worker’s compensation costs, brought the state out of record deficits, and moved it to record surpluses. If there were any complaints about Wilson, it was that he did not reduce taxes enough when the state started seeing record increases in its revenue. He was faced with a Democrat-controlled Legislature, which was hostile to tax cuts, so his lack of success in that area is understandable. In any event, no one could complain about the strength of this state in those years.

Now we are in chaos. Our houses cost too much, our freeways are overcrowded, we are running out of gasoline, water, and electricity, our budget is seriously out of balance, our credit rating is falling through the floor, and our government pension programs are facing bankruptcy. Corruption and incompetence seep into every part of the state’s operation. We careen from an electricity crisis to an Oracle scandal to a budget crisis to fraud in our unemployment insurance and food stamp programs. The Governor was spending $30 million a day more than he was receiving in revenue all last year—and he has the gall to complain about a $30 million recall election. He has wasted that much each and every day he has been in office this last year.

Through it all, Davis has blamed the rest of the world for his failed leadership. It’s Bush’s fault, it’s the Republicans fault, it’s the terrorist’s fault (I think in the Davis mind, Republicans and terrorists are exactly the same), it’s the bad economy (of course, it’s not his fault that the economy went bad), or it’s the fault of the liberals in the Legislature (unless, of course, he needs the liberals to keep his job).

In fact, this state is in chaos, but it is in chaos because of the failed leadership of this Governor. The current political scene (most particularly, the recall) is simply a rational response of a frustrated public to the policies of the Governor and his cronies in the Legislature. People know there is something wrong. They know Davis has failed. They know Davis has created a chaotic, corrupt and incompetent state government. They just had to do something about it. Since their options are limited, recall seemed to be the best option available.

No one likes chaos. It is unsettling, but a necessary precursor to change. Given this Governor’s inability to lead, chaos was inevitable, and now California needs change. Even though we may see a lot more chaos before that change arrives, change is inevitable.


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