<cliche>So for those of you living under a rock</cliche>, enough people in California have signed petitions to hold a special election on October 7th to recall the governor, Gray Davis.
I think the recall is a bad idea. The reasons put forth by those vying for the recall are that Davis (re-elected apparently as ‘the lesser of two evils’ almost a year ago now) did such a bad job during the Great Electricity Crisis that he squandered the state’s money and reduced California’s budget to the sad state it’s in now.
Notwithstanding the fact that the recall election will cost at least $60 million that could be better spent somewhere else and that holding a recall election because you don’t like a few decisions someone made may hamstring future governors as they fear that they will be second-guessed and voted out of office for any little thing that comes up, I don’t even believe that the reasons for the recall are correct.
Currently most, if not all states, are facing fiscal crises not seen since the 1930s. The loss of jobs has cut down on income tax revenue, not to mention property tax (those who had to sell the house) and sales & business taxes (less income means less spending means less taxes from those sources) everywhere.
The 2001 electricity crisis — which occurred due to legislation signed by Republican governor Pete Wilson — ransacked the state economy as well. Faced with the decision of either signing contracts with energy companies or letting the power go out, Davis signed very expensive long-term contracts for electricity. Now that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has ruled that yes, these companies did unfairly game the electricity market, any argument that Davis screwed up the state in 2001 can’t be valid.
Davis isn’t my favorite governor — I don’t like his practice of fundraising at every opportunity, and suspect that he does sway his decisions towards the highest donor — but there really hasn’t been anyone in the running that I think could do a better job.
I don’t like the candidates who say they’ll cut taxes — contrary to what they say, California is not the state with the highest tax rates (which is different from the verbal sleight-of-hand used in saying ‘the state with the highest amount of taxes collected’ — you get a very populous state together with a large amount of high-income people, and yes, you’ll get a larger amount rolling into the state coffers than, say, Montana or Ohio). With California’s schools (one of my pet issues) ranked somewhere between the 46th and 50th worst in the nation, the last thing we need is less money that can go to the schools.
I wouldn’t mind one of the alternative non-Republican/non-Democrat candidates, since they’d be less beholden to the whims and desires of the national parties (fun alternatives include Leo “Sledge-o-matic” Gallagher and Gary “Whatchoo talkin’ about, Willis?” Coleman). I think the only one who has a chance would be Arianna Huffington; I think she’d be fairly decent, and at least interesting.
I do want to note that I don’t think one can use polls to predict the outcome of this race; there’re so many different candidates that a normal ‘statistical sampling’ of even 1000 people can’t possibly take into account the views of everyone in the different regions of California who might vote. (I also would like to note that I’ve never been polled, save for someone who called last week and hung up immediately after my answer to question two: “Do you consider yourself Democratic or Republican?”)
I plan to vote “No” on the recall because I think that politics by early removal from office is a bad idea in general. But we’ll see what actually happens; I’ll definitely be watching the results with interest.
(Further note — last one, I promise — I do believe in backing up one’s statements with facts and verifiable research, but a) I don’t yet know how best to do footnotes on this thing, and b) my frustration at trying to get income tax revenues from 2001 and 2002 out of the IRS’s excel file when we don’t have Microsoft Office mean that I just laid down my views and what I know based on most of the mutiply-sourced news articles I’ve read on this stuff.)