The Corner

Why Newspapers Are Dying

Exhibit A — see this Sacramento Bee editorial hectoring California voters for not voting for massive tax increases:

Good morning, California voters. Do you feel better, now that you’ve gotten that out of your system?

You wanted to show the state’s politicians just how mad you are at them. And you did. Boy, did you ever.

Proposition 1A with its taxes and its spending limit? Too much of one and not enough of the other, you said (or was it the other way around), and voted it down. Never mind that the taxes go into efffect [sic] anyway. You showed ‘em.

And it goes on like that, without once acknowledging how spectacularly irresponsible the state government has been or that there’s plenty of wasteful spending the legislature refuses to give up. Thankfully, the comments from readers on the editorial are deservedly vicious.

UPDATE — I see Mark Steyn linked to this earlier in a post below, but since the link is either down or they’ve pulled it, I’ll paste the text of the editorial after the jump.

UPDATE II — Not only did they pull the editorial, they replaced it! The new editorial is considerably moderate, “Editorial: Time for reform – not for blame NOW VOTERS HAVE JUDGED LEADERS; HOW WILL LEADERS TAKE THE REBUKE?” Text of old editorial still below.

Editorial: You did it! Uh, so what now?

Published: Wednesday, May. 20, 2009 – 12:00 am | Page 18A

Last Modified: Wednesday, May. 20, 2009 – 9:09 am

Good morning, California voters. Do you feel better, now that you’ve gotten that out of your system?

You wanted to show the state’s politicians just how mad you are at them. And you did. Boy, did you ever.

Proposition 1A with its taxes and its spending limit? Too much of one and not enough of the other, you said (or was it the other way around), and voted it down. Never mind that the taxes go into efffect anyway. You showed ‘em.

Proposition 1B? That was a tougher call.

Proposition 1C? No way. You like the lottery just like it is. And all they were going to do with that extra $5 billion was spend it.

Propositions 1D and 1E? Forget it. You had already voted to put money into preschool and mental health programs. You’re not taking it out now.

And 1F? Heck, yeah! Let’s not pay our legislators if they can’t pass a budget on time. So what if it likely won’t have any effect, or that this year they actually passed a budget months earlier than they needed to? That’s not the point.

The point is that you’re sick and tired of all this political mumbo-jumbo. So you showed those politicians who’s in charge. You. You’re now officially in charge – of a state that will be something like $25 billion in the hole for the fiscal year beginning July 1.

So, now that you’ve put those irksome politicians in their place, maybe it’s time to think about this: Since you’re in charge, exactly what do you intend to do about that pesky $25 billion hole in the budget?

Lay off some state workers? Which ones? And how many? Remember, the entire state payroll is about $25 billion. You could lay off every last one of them – every Highway Patrol officer, every prison guard, every state firefighter, every health inspector, every professor in the UC and CSU systems, every DMV employee and every nameless, faceless paper-shuffling bureaucrat – and the state would only be barely in the black. But if you want to do that, go ahead. You’re in charge, remember.

Wait, how about taking money back from the counties? Great idea. Not that it will be easy. Most of them are already in the red and getting ready to lay off cops, prosecutors, probation officers and clinic staff.

Let’s see. What about laying off more teachers? Shortening the school year? Releasing prisoners? Selling some of the state’s real estate holdings? Borrow billions to tide the state over until the economy improves

What’s that? Few of these ideas sound like what you want to do? Well, that’s OK. You really don’t have to do these things yourself. You just have to figure out what you want done and tell the Legislature to do it.

They’ll surely hop right on it, now that you’re in charge. Just keep in mind that your suggestions have to keep the state solvent and able to meet all its legal obligations. And you know how complicated things get when the lawyers get involved.

You say it’ll take you awhile to figure this stuff out, that you’ll need a little time to get up to speed on the details? No problem. You’ve got until June 30 to get it all straight.

That sounds a lot like work, you say? Sorry, no whining allowed. You asked for this job. Now you’ve got it, so get on it. Oh, and remember. The entire nation is watching to see how you do now that you’re in charge.

No pressure or anything. Just thought you’d want to know.