Hey, Obama, here’s some stuff we can cut in San Diego

by on December 7, 2010 · 36 comments

in Are You Kidding?, Economy, Popular, San Diego, Satire

As everyone knows, President Obama is a gifted orator who has voiced several rousing, meaningless, and unmemorable riffs on abstract concepts like hope and change. But he’s never been as inspiring as he was yesterday, when he told the nation how we won’t be raising taxes on our super-rich.

To hear the president, in a time of desperate need, let Americans know that our nation’s millionaires and billionaires won’t be providing any extra help — well, heavens to Betsy, I quickly found myself covered in goosebumps of red, white, and blue.

And the inspiration didn’t stop when the president’s lips stopped moving. After his speech, I sat there thinking: given that even people who make upwards of $250,000 each year can’t be asked to pay more taxes, isn’t it time for the rest of us be looking for public goods and services we don’t really need?

Just to start the brain-storming, I’ve started building a list of government-provided goods and services that, for the good of the country, us San Diegans can just let go.

For starters, let’s take a good, hard look at Balboa Park. What purpose does it serve? Balboa Park is just a bunch of people walking around, looking at stuff, and doing it all for free. It’s so communist, we should change the name to Red Square.

Let’s shut down Balboa Park to the public immediately, or at the very least, let’s stop using the park to hand out freebies at taxpayer expense. For example, the drinking fountains at Balboa Park currently dispense water without charging a fee — clearly a symptom of the culture of entitlement that has taken hold of America. There is nothing in the Constitution that says we have a right to drink water wherever we go. If you’re going to get thirsty, you should carry a bottle of water in a fanny pack, like our founding fathers envisioned.

Moving on, there’s the long stretch of boardwalk that runs from South Mission Beach to La Jolla. Why are we letting people — including some who don’t even have jobs — traipse up and down the coast free of charge? In tough economic times, our coastline should be enjoyed by people who can afford to pay for it, like the Chinese.

Speaking of beaches, let’s talk about lifeguards. San Diego has already scaled back lifeguard protection, but not far enough. The ocean is the ultimate libertarian vehicle of justice: nobody forces anyone to swim in it, so why should anyone expect to be pulled out? Actions have consequences in this world, and Americans need to be reminded of that instead of being spoiled by a nanny state. Big government shouldn’t be in the business of separating struggling swimmers from important life lessons.

After dropping lifeguards, we should consider firing more teachers, too. If you look at the numbers, only about half the kids are graduating from high school anyway. And even the ones who go to college will mostly just end up with debts and drinking problems.

Let’s scale back public education further. Maybe we can start by getting rid of public high schools. If you’re not smart enough to get a scholarship to Bishop’s, what good will it do you to learn stuff like algebra and punctuation, anyway? You need to be out in the real world learning valuable skills like aluminum-can gathering. That’s how we did it in my day. (Actually, when I went to San Diego public schools in the 1980s and 1990s, the schools were better funded than they are today. But like Ocean Beach, that’s beside the point.)

Hey, on the Point Loma tip, I used to see city buses running all the way down to Sunset Cliffs. What’s up with that? What business does anyone who can’t afford a car have at the cliffs? If those bus routes are still there, let’s get rid of them. I realize the local cleaning lady community will be devastated, but that’s okay because we should be seeing a flood of new cleaning lady jobs now that the tax cuts to rich are here to stay.

And there’s the magic word: jobs. Jobs! Jobs are so good! But San Diego is beset by too many growth-stifling socialistic welfare hand-out programs that prevent would-be entrepreneurs from sowing jobs all over the countryside like modern-day Johnny Appleseeds.

Take the “Women, Infants, and Children” program, a.k.a. WIC, which provides free food and other basic essentials to children in need. Sure, kids sometimes get hungry. But once you give them food, they come at you with a long list of other demands — clothes, medicines, literacy, and on and on.

Thankfully, you and other conservative voices have explained how the economics work, Mr. President — and San Diegans get it. The taxes necessary to pay for goodies like WIC are costing us jobs. Let me repeat that: jobs. Jobs!

There is nothing more important than jobs, as every American knows. Even the kids will need those jobs if/when they survive to adulthood. Let’s not put food in kids’ bellies today if it might to leave them unemployed tomorrow. We’ve got to be thinking long-term, people!

Finally, let me shift gears and talk about one part of San Diego to which our taxpayer commitment should never waver: professional sports stadiums. We’ve got one masterpiece in Petco Park, and we need another one for the Chargers, post haste.

Sure, cynics might argue that other uses of cash might be more worthy, and might point to the fact that, this past season, Petco was only pulling in 10,000 fans per game with the Padres in first place. But these nattering nabobs of negativity should zip their lips. What if, in the midst of our economic doldrums, the Chargers were to leave town? That would feel worse than being swept by the Raiders, and I’m not sure America’s Finest City could bounce back.

So there you have it, President Obama. You’ve told us just how bad things are, and in San Diego, we’re ready to rise to the challenge. We recognize that it’s just not right to raise taxes on anyone ever, so we’re ready to continue forfeiting public goods and services — and we’ve already got some ideas of where to begin.

I hope you’ll consider these ideas, Mr. President. Or at least pass them along to the Republicans with a note asking if, when they have a chance, maybe when they’re done compromising, they’d be kind enough to take a look.

{ 36 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Matt Grommes December 7, 2010 at 10:49 am

This is great stuff. You’ve cheered me up with humor and depressed me with thoughts of conservatism all at the same time. :)

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avatar tj December 7, 2010 at 10:56 am

“The love of money is the root of all evil.”
1Timothy 6:10

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avatar Jon December 7, 2010 at 10:59 am

Great stuff Shane! I el oh elled through the whole damn thing.

In another recent compromise, Obama also agreed with Republicans that he is a muslim…

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avatar Bankster December 7, 2010 at 11:01 am

I feel your pain, but let’s get some perspective. Coming off a Nov. ass-whooping into a climate of anti-gov hysteria, what result could we have reasonably expected? The outgoing Congress sabotaged Obama (and itself) by not handling the expiring tax cuts before the election ramp up, now all the administration has left is it’s stimulus efforts to jumpstart the economy:

http://delong.typepad.com/sdj/2010/12/i-think-ryan-avent-and-paul-krugman-and-ezra-klein-are-most-likely-to-be-right-here.html

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avatar Goatskull December 7, 2010 at 11:13 am

It seems like the super rich consider the less fortunate an annoying nuisance and eyesore. OK fine, they’ve got theirs. The thing they might want to consider though is that this annoying nuisance and eyesore will only grow if they don’t want to help. They’re in essence shooting their own foot. Here’s something that might be fun to do this weekend and I encourage all of you to do this. Get some cheap lawn chairs, a 12 pack of Bud Light (sorry, a growler of OB Chronic won’t work for this stunt), sport a KSON or Tim McGraw t-shirt or maybe a t-shirt of your favorite 80’s heavy metal band, a pair of cut off jeans, a bag of generic brand potato chips, a bag full of McDee’s or KFC (yes I know but this IS a special occasion), break out the old boom box and dig for some old cassette tapes (Achy Breaky Heart or some old mullet rock will work just fine). Next, head up to La Jolla with all this gear, find a nice big mansion with a big front yard and plop you selves’ right in the middle of it. If you have kids, bring them and in this case let them be loud and obnoxious. Enjoy.

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avatar Diane5150 December 8, 2010 at 7:50 am

I like it. I think I’ll wear my “God is a Grand Old Dyke” T-shirt and sing my Abortion Song. Nothing scares the ultra rich like a woman out of control.

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avatar donofcali December 7, 2010 at 11:15 am

The sweet combination of privatization and caveat emptor. The ultra-rich should own us; they are better than us and deserve to rule us. Soon we’ll evolve into the pure Plutocracy that our Founders envisioned for America.

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avatar Old Hermit Dave December 7, 2010 at 11:46 am

WOW Shane, you are on a roll with that writing masterpiece. I can only add that in the spirit of the new Obama bootstrap republican policy, all non super rich old people should just go ahead and DIE, free up billions in SS funds to buy YACHTS for politicians.

69th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor that started a real war between America and real countries with real armies. Way different than the latest Pearl Harbor with super powers fighting Muslim Masterminds for 10 years and running. Proving the super rich do learn from experience.

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avatar annagrace December 7, 2010 at 4:07 pm

Shane- fantastic reminder of our shameful commie proclivities! I’ll also throw in libraries- who needs them? Everyone has computers.

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avatar dave rice December 7, 2010 at 9:27 pm

Why hasn’t road maintenance been mentioned? Is it because for all intents and purposes we’ve already cut that? I figure in another year or so I’ll need to engage 4×4 to traverse Bacon…

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avatar annagrace December 8, 2010 at 12:19 am

And how about subsidized housing? Seniors, disabled, poor- out on their bums!

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avatar tj December 8, 2010 at 8:39 am

The rich have hated* the middle-class since it’s creation in the early 1900’s. Their first attempt to destroy it in 1929 ultimatly failed, but it did set the stage for their second major push – which we’re living today. They may be more successful this time – because not only did they take away USA jobs – but they sent them away to the 3rd world – where it will be very difficult, to impossible – to ever get them back.

* Why do the rich hate the middle-class? – because by definition: the Greedy don’t like to share.

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avatar RB December 8, 2010 at 10:30 am

I would suggest that the government is more of a threat to the middle class, while the rich are just indifferent. Our government bailed out the banks rather than individual home owners. Our government sets the trade and tax policies that have been used to take away jobs. Our government has failed to hold China to fair trade policies.

Our government is in the process of weaken the dollar that will lead to a large reduction in the worth of middle class American’s pay checks through inflation.
Oil is already at $90 a barrel not because of demand but due to a weakened dollar. Cotton, coffee, corn, copper, gold, and silver are all inflating. Our Fed Chairman is on record of only wanting to fight wage inflation. The only thing he wants to stops is wages increases for the middle class.

So as the rich get richer buying gold, silver, commodities, and other hard assets and the middle class gets inflation and no wage increases, it just might be the hand of government causing the increases in the wealth divide.

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avatar Dixon Guizot December 8, 2010 at 10:55 am

RB and others, I really recommend reading the article below, an excerpt from Thom Hartmann’s book “Rebooting the American Dream.”

Hartmann makes two fascinating claims: (1) tax hikes actually result in higher real wages for the middle class, while tax cuts actually lower real wages for average people. And (2) our economy historically appears to have been de-stabilized by tax cuts for the wealthy, as tax cuts like Bush’s (and Clinton’s and Reagan’s) gave rich folks gobs of extra cash, which many of them plowed into frothy assets like tech stocks or real estate.

Seems to me that if Obama was truly fighting for the middle class, he would be hammering these points in speeches:

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avatar RB December 8, 2010 at 12:50 pm

Shane, I did read the first part of this very long article. It is interesting exercise on a closed system using a poor measurement of wealth.

First the poor measurement of wealth, the US saving rate is a very poor measure of wealth for any working American. This number is a historical and an incomplete measure. The US saving rate is a measure of money in checking and savings at financial institutions like banks, S&L, and credit unions. I and most Americans no longer store long term assets in these institutions or in these instruments (savings and checking accounts). These accounts are used for liquidity and weekly cash flow adjustments not as a measure of wealth.

Long term assets and wealth for working Americans are stored in the stocks, bonds, money market accounts, rental property, pensions, 401k, 403b, IRA, Roth IRAs and CDs all of which are excluded from the US saving rate number and used this author to show tax rate don’t matter in the article.

Second the author assumes a close system for taxes and wages. If taxes go up, wages will go up to the point were the worker is happy with the salary after taxes again (the salary before the tax change). If taxes go down, wages will go down to meet the after tax salary before the change. But the real world and real economy is not a closed system. Exclude from the authors analysis is what else happens outside a closed system of just taxes and wages. When taxes change the economic activity changes. The number of jobs change, the expectations of the workers and employers change, the value of the dollar changes. the price of goods sold as exports change, etc.

Finally, just because most individuals are poor investor (tech stocks, real estate etc) of their money from reduced taxes does not justify giving money to a poorly run government. Here is the latest Fed screw up.

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avatar Dixon Guizot December 8, 2010 at 1:11 pm

RB, I find Hartmann’s argument more convincing, unless you can point to any data that counters his first conclusion: “Our own history shows that within a short time—usually between one and three years—that same worker’s wages will increase enough [after a tax increase] to more than compensate for his lost income… It’s one reason why as income taxes increasingly hit more and more working people in the United States between the 1950s and 1981, income itself steadily went up, too.”

Also, any evidence refuting his second claim would be welcome: “Novelist Larry Beinhart… looked over the history of tax cuts and economic bubbles and found a clear relationship between the two. High top marginal tax rates—generally well above 60 percent—on rich people actually stabilize the economy, prevent economic bubbles from forming, prevent the subsequent economic crashes, and lead to steady and sustained economic growth as well as steady and sustained wage growth for working people.”

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avatar RB December 8, 2010 at 1:50 pm

High marginal tax rate due have a stabilizing effect. They prevent growth in both the economy and jobs. If the goal is to have 1-2 % growth and high unemployment for the next ten years, tax rates should go up. And 10% of our population will have a very stable unemployed life.

No, I don’t believe salaries will go up based upon taxes right now. Taxes will have no effect upon salaries until the unemployment rate comes way down, we have strong GDP growth, and until we have a reasonable immigration policy. Salaries depend upon the supply of workers and the economic demand for labor.

By the way, have you looked up the authors mistake in using US saving rate to measure the benefit or wealth for workers. It was a rookie mistake by the author and the Danish economist.

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avatar Dixon Guizot December 8, 2010 at 2:09 pm

All Hartmann says about savings rate is that among working people it is typically small—”1 to 5 percent. ” That seems very accurate, based on most working people I know, who tend to live paycheck to paycheck.

As for your comment, “High marginal tax rate due have a stabilizing effect. They prevent growth in both the economy and jobs” — that is a tired old yarn that the gentry wants the rest of us to believe. GWB and Repub Congress cut taxes massively in 2003; since then the economy has shed jobs, economic growth has collapsed, and the stock market has crashed. Voodoo economics, dude.

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avatar RB December 8, 2010 at 3:06 pm

Most working people have either stocks, bonds, money market pensions, 401k, 403b, IRA, Roth IRAs and CDs as well as a saving account or checking account. Their savings and wealth are usually in their retirement accounts and not measured in the US saving rate.

Most people save for retirement on their own or through a pension.
Those who do not save are in trouble. If you give people houses they can’t afford, the market will crash not matter what the tax rate.

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avatar Nancy December 9, 2010 at 3:16 pm

RB, I wish you could back up your statements about “most people have either….. ” and “most people save….”as I wonder
how true that is, esp. in the last few yrs. Yes, many of us in my generation, I’m 64, have been lucky to have these things, but it is not as many as you think in the next generation after me, and certainly not in the upcoming generations with the cutbacks in the various pension programs that companies are cutting back on providing.

In San Diego in particular, our economy is tourist-based which pays very poor wages and certainly offers no pension or 401k pension plans. BTW, how many working people (esp. those with a family) will have the time to figure out what would be the best way to go if they do have a 401? A defined benefit plan is the better way to go but most companies shifting away from that. Who benefits from that? Of course the company owners do. Then there are all the small businesses that don’t offer any type programs for their workers.

You throw in your last comment about people buying houses they couldn’t afford …, but there was the greed factor involved by the lenders who profited by selling off loans they knew should never have been granted and raters giving that bundle A ratings when they knew they didn’t rate it. The rich are the ones who participate most in buying stocks and reaping the dividends. The average worker cannot play the same game and come out ahead. That’s a whole separate issue from the fact that the top 2% can certainly afford a higher tax rate; mst economists agree that their not paying that in taxes does not stimulate the economy

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avatar RB December 9, 2010 at 8:55 pm

By most people, I mean 75% of workers have some retirement savings in some type of retirement account.
(see this here)
Most workers and most retirement accounts, through mutual fund, hold stocks, bonds, and receive dividends.

avatar annagrace December 8, 2010 at 5:07 pm

Shane- I think it bears repeating that if those Bush tax cuts were supposed to be such a booster to the economy- show us where. As you state and we all know, “since then ( 2003) the economy has shed jobs, economic growth has collapsed, and the stock market has crashed. Voodoo economics, dude.”

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avatar RB December 8, 2010 at 5:23 pm

The reality is that the taxes will not be raise for anyone. The deal is done. Many of those representatives opposed are just positioning themselves for special PORK that will be added to the bill in exchange for their vote.

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avatar annagrace December 8, 2010 at 5:35 pm

And many of those opposed, RB, are voting their conscience as progressives. Let’s talk pork- ethanol subsidies which benefit pulling- the- plug- on- Grandma Grassley, and Harry Reid with online poke games. But don’t confuse them with Anthony Weiner or Bernie Saunders.

avatar nunya December 8, 2010 at 1:26 pm

Fabulous snark Shane, thank you :)

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avatar Nancy December 10, 2010 at 9:12 am

Thanks, RB, for the ref. on retirement; I noted how many of those saving don’t think it’s enough to live on when retired. Also, look at recent “New Analysis From Aon Hewitt Paints Rocky Retirement Picture for Younger Workers;
By Aon Corporation”; it says stagnant wages, job insecurity and A STEADY DECLINE IN PENSION PLAN AND RETIREE MEDICAL BENEFITS HAVE JEOPARDIZED THE RETIREMENT SECURITY OF MANY WORKERS….
Also, you again say “most workers” receive dividends, but many of us have
seen the decrease in dividends; if you’re rich and are relying mainly on dividends as
the Meg Whitmans (she and husband showed net dividends in area of $1.5 MILLION in a recent past yr. and loss of $l million that yr.) then you’re all right….and can afford a higher tax rate.

The job market is not as good as it’s been in the past and in areas that rely on low-wage jobs are the ones that are hurting; SD is one of the many areas with a growing number of people on food stamps.

I don’t believe we’ll see the middle class moving ahead in the future as it has in the past 20 yrs. I hope I’m wrong.

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avatar RB December 10, 2010 at 10:07 am

Dividend on the S&P 500 are averaging 3% which is much higher than bank saving rates and money market rates. The elderly are getting killed by these low level of return at banks. If tax rates on dividends go up, companies will avoid paying dividends and will stop dividend increases. If the massive increase in the taxes on dividend goes through next year, you should only hold dividend paying stocks in retirement accounts. I expect that people holding bond for retirement are going to get killed over the next few years as interest rates go up. Of course everyone will be surprised that their retirement savings has been cut by 20-40 % while holding highly rated bonds.

The glass is both half empty and half full.
Your right the the retirement glass for younger workers is half empty and pensions will become obsolete. But company matches on 401 retirement savings accounts and the Roth IRA, makes the glass half full for young workers. And the only financial secret the young need to know is …start early. Time and compounding are the keys to retirement not a pension.

Those people who drop out of high school, have children without a partner, and fail to plan for their future are choosing poverty. Cheap imported service workers and exported manufacturing jobs are the new reality.

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avatar annagrace December 10, 2010 at 1:22 pm

“Cheap imported service workers and exported manufacturing jobs are the new reality.” That would have said it all RB. If I understand your prior statement, I should have planned better for the future by becoming a hedge fund manager, instead of being an English literature major, or at least I should have married a hedge fund manager….

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avatar RB December 10, 2010 at 2:04 pm

It is a myth that professional money managers can outperform the individual investors. There are several research studies that show that professional money managers can’t beat the results of un-managed mutual funds.

However, any individual can get a professionally managed mutual fund without marrying the fund manager. There is no reason that an English major cannot with a little reading and library work invest successfully for retirement. The math in finance is simple algebra.

A twenty year old has 40-45 years until they retire. If they average a 14% return per year (some years better, some years worst), they will double their money every 5 years. If they start with $10,000 ( less than the cost of one year in college or the cost of a big wedding) they would double their money 8 times during those 40 years. In short with planning and time, $10,000 would become $2.4 million, $5,000 would become $1.2 million, and $1,000 would become $240,000.

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avatar Nancy December 10, 2010 at 3:49 pm

What planet are you living on, RB? How many English majors are out there? Let’s talk about the average 30 yr. old guy or gal who’s married with 2 kids, and he/she works 40+ hrs. a wk. He/she’s supposed to take the time and understand what to invest in when the professional money managers can’t? How many of them predicted what was going on in the last 5 yrs.? Get real!

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avatar annagrace December 10, 2010 at 3:54 pm

Thank you Nancy. I am not a stupid woman. Nevertheless, I still haven’t figured out derivatives, among other things. And somehow I forgot to squirrel away my retirement nest egg when I was making 50 cents an hour in retail circa 1968, working my way through school. What was I thinking?????

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avatar RB December 10, 2010 at 5:45 pm

So my son who wants to be a writer and is high school taking 3 AP classes, French, pre calc, playing sports and studying for the SATs has no time to learn how to invest but hates putting his money from cleaning boats into the bank and wants to buy a stock instead. I ask him what products does he like. He says he really like the Ford Mustang (16 years old male, go figure). He says he see new Mustangs all over Point Loma as he is running and he knows my 14 year old Ford always starts and gets him to school. I tell him, you just found yourself a good stock. Ford (F) has gone from $10 to $16. Investing for your future is not brain surgery. You just have to be more observant than your average English major. Good observers and intelligent consumers are successful investors.

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avatar annagrace December 10, 2010 at 6:21 pm

“You just have to be more observant than your average English major.” Really RB? Do you realize how sanctimonious and smug that sounds? Do you care? Toodle-loo.

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avatar Nancy December 11, 2010 at 7:34 am

Thanks, annagrace, for your great comment. I’m tired of the anecdotal comments when people think that’s the way it is (or should be) for everybody else, and that’s not the way it is.
Lala land.

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avatar Patty Jones December 11, 2010 at 4:53 pm

RB, please discontinue your disrespectful, thinly veiled insults.

I refer you to our Comment Policy.

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avatar Nancy December 10, 2010 at 12:56 pm

Today’s U/T has great article in Bus. section titled “Half of state lives paycheck to paycheck” by Dean Calbreath. One stat is that 36% of Californians are dissatisfied with their mix of debts, assets and savings, compared with 16% who are pleased; another is that 58% lack a “rainy day” fund which would cover 3 months’ of expenses and that’s comparable to 60% of the nation.

Shane’s and annagrace’s comments (and Thom Hartman’s) are right on, and getting back to point of the article is that govt. needs to continue with its services, and if more money needed, get it from those who can afford to give it: the wealthy, not the middle class.

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