Monday, March 31, 2014

2013 California Budget Surplus

One of the oddities of California is that the surplus or deficit is only announced at the beginning of the year.  This year the news is all about what to do with the $4.2 billion "surplus", which is considerably higher than last years "surplus", and last year was the first "surplus" in a decade.

A churlish conservative writer that I had seen claimed that the 2013 "surplus" amounted to -$12.6 billion, which was a bit less in magnitude than the +$15.6 billion "deficit" that had occurred in 2012.  This article claims that the actual "surplus" was only -$12.2 billion.  During 2012, there was a horrible screech from the state controllers office about inability to make payments, while the Republicans were clearly hell bent on destroying the states finances.  2013 came along with a super-majority, and poof!  the deficit was gone and there wasn't a peep from the controller.  There seemed to be some plausibility to this, since the stock market has been unnaturally soaring due to the fed, and rich Chinese party members are buying up million dollar properties so that they can contribute property tax.  Meanwhile, spending has also been going up.

Another journalist who specializes in California politics noted that the governor simply excluded certain payments from the deficit calculations.  For example, payments needed to keep pension funds solvent.  Of course my major hope is to witness the Apocalypse first hand, so all this is helping me to remain in a very cheerful mood.


Max Coutinho said...

Hi Looney,

Basically, the surplus may not be real...well, at least the psychological effects of the word "surplus" can be beneficial *nodding*.

I heard Portugal is doing the same as Cali now: attracting rich Chinese citizen (they buy the most expensive properties, wrongly called "luxury properties", in exchange for Gold Visas) as a way to increase property tax revenue - and other indirect taxes.

Of course, this is an immediate solution. I am looking forward to see the long term effects of such policies.

Cheers (and congrats to California?)

Looney said...

Howdy Max,

Utopia is on its way! Another article indicated that the "job growth" numbers are similarly redefined, so that what formerly would have been a net job loss is now defined as an increase.

A question for you: In the European press, I always see a few words together, "populist right-wing party". What puzzles me is that I thought populist (i.e. the Robin Hood mentality), was exclusively the domain of the left. That is, we don't say populist left-wing party because that would be redundant. A bit like a water-loving fish. Right wingers, however, represent the rich, which makes them the opposite of "populist".

Max Coutinho said...

Hey Looney,

The jobs numbers are manipulated everywhere you go.

You are right, "populism" is usually (as it should) applied to the left. However, in Europe nowadays it is quite common for the Right Wing to use leftist slogans and policies to get votes (hence the use of the term "Populist Right Wing"). Social democrats are populist when they try to sell the failed welfare philosophy to people - they know it is a failed system, they know it devours our resources and yet they do not alter the system, or even eliminate it all together, because they know that doing it would represent a loss of votes.
So, when politicians strategise and work with "votes" in mind only (instead of strategising and working to do the right thing for the people)...they are populist.

Example, David Cameron (a "Tory") fought for the same-sex marriage - without consulting the people. This is usually a Labour fight, but he undertook that task himself for populist reasons (given next year's elections - let's just hope his own party own sabotage him).

The world is upside-down.