Jewish World Review August 25, 2003 / 27 Menachem-Av, 5763

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California lessons | "And California dreamin' is becoming a reality." -- The Mamas and the Papas

It is truly pathetic to see Democrats and Republicans alike try to spin the blackout and the California Recall. The truth is that neither party has embraced energy conservation, and both have sold out to special interests. The GOP has allowed energy deregulation pirates to maximize profits at the expense of the folks. For example, deregulators laid off about 800 workers at the Mohawk plant in upstate New York, leaving the workforce there as thin as a fiber optic line. And, oh, yeah, don't mention any high-tech gizmos to the deregulators who prefer to run power plants the old-fashioned way: with tinfoil.

The Democrats, on the other hand, have bowed before the greens, who want to go back to candlelight and stagecoaches. No drilling, no fossil fuel, no nuclear plants, no anything, and don't you dare disturb the caribou! Then, when the lights go out, Hillary Clinton and her pals are running around pointing fingers. Is anybody besides Sean Penn buying that charade?

Out in California, the spin is even more dizzying. Gray Davis has now thought up an excuse for bankrupting the state: The people passed so many tax-and-spend initiatives that he had no room to maneuver. So why is it that four years ago, California had a $10-billion surplus, Governor? Those same initiatives were in place. Next, Davis will be telling us California had to pay for invading Iraq.

The reason Californians passed so many initiatives in the first place is that the people can't trust the politicians to do the right thing. Looting the treasury is now a parlor game in Sacramento with elected officials buying as many votes as they can, and the folks be damned. Just listen to this: California spends an astounding $6 billion a year on K-12 public education. There are approximately six million kids in the system. That's about $10,000 per student. And the Los Angeles school system still can't stop social promotion. Ten grand a kid, and hundreds of thousands of them can't pass. The solution: more money, of course.

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California is the first state to collapse under the weight of political correctness run wild. If you are an illegal alien in the Golden State, the authorities will not report you to the federal government but will spend more than $100 million giving you food. If you earn less than $40,000 a year, there's a good chance the state will pay health insurance for your kids. That perk costs the taxpayers another $800 million. I could go on and on, but the point is that the working people of California cannot provide the money for all of the spending; it's as simple as that.

Many Americans are California dreamers believing that public money can heal all ills. Most entitlement programs have noble intentions, but with private housing and other costs out of sight, the working folks just can't keep up. More than 800,000 people left California last year, and it's not because they didn't like the weather.

Some clueless Democrats are still running around promising to solve everyone's problems with cash. This is a lie. It cannot be done. On the other side, Republicans say the "trickle-down" approach will revive the economy. This is debatable, but at least the Bush administration is giving back some money to the folks. Once the economy revives, the Bush people know tax revenues will rise, so that's why they are pushing the tax cut "for the rich."

The polls show that even many poor people aren't buying the class warfare stuff anymore. We are all in this together. When the power went off everybody got hosed, and when Al Qaeda strikes it doesn't matter what your tax bracket is.

As with most things in life, we have now been warned. The collapse of California's political system, the blackout and 9-11 before that have all been signals sent. We Americans better wise up and start electing people who have a sense of urgency about protecting us and solving problems. For Americans remaining in the dark is simply not an option anymore. Let there be light.

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JWR contributor Bill O'Reilly is host of the Fox News show, "The O'Reilly Factor," and author of the new book, "The No-Spin Zone: Confrontations with the Powerful and Famous in America" Comments by clicking here.

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© 2003 Creators Syndicate