Sunday, July 19, 2009

By The Numbers

Yesterday, I lamented California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's foolish cutting of a program that works and that provides children with necessary health care. It's not just the kids of the state that are the targets of service cuts: a whole lot of vulnerable people of all ages are going to be hit, and hit hard. What is so enraging about these cuts is that they will most definitely not save the state money. In fact, in just a few years they will wind up costing the state millions of dollars more. This Los Angeles Times article lays out just what the cuts to some of the social services promise. Here are just a few of the long term costs noted by the article:

The governor has proposed eliminating CalWorks, the state's welfare program, and Healthy Families, which insures low-income children. Welfare, which costs $219 a month per person, is cheaper than foster care, where advocates say some children will wind up if their families lose public assistance. The monthly foster care bill is $1,981.

The governor's budget plan would also shut down the state's poison control service, a $5.9-million program used by 330,000 people per year. Poison control experts say the elimination of a hotline would lead to as many as 164,000 extra emergency room visits.

Those visits would cost the healthcare system somewhere in the range of $70 million per year, according to Stuart Heard, executive director of California Poison Control System. ...

Another element of Schwarzenegger's plan would end an adult day care program that provides medical and therapeutic services to the frail elderly. The cut is intended to save the state $170 million.

But if even 20% of the recipients of the program are forced into nursing homes as a result of the service cut, as healthcare advocates have predicted, any savings to the state would be entirely wiped out.

The governor has openly acknowledged that today's cuts will mean tomorrow's ballooning costs, but he claims that he has no other choice. He does have another choice, but neither he nor his Republican buddies in the legislature will hear of increasing taxes and closing tax loopholes. So, he's decided to take the "penny wise and pound foolish" approach.

I suspect that what is at work here is a major chapter in the sacred scriptures of Republicanism: "Running Government Like A Business." Government is most assuredly not a business, nor was it ever intended to be. Government is not about generating profits. It is the embodiment of a contract made between citizens to provide services and necessities that an individual cannot provide for him/herself alone: a reliable source of safe drinking water, schools, roads, fire and police departments, and all the other amenities of civilization.

Ideally, governments should operate efficiently, paring wasteful expenditures mercilessly. I have no problem with that. What I do have a problem with is the idea that saving money today only to lose more money in the future is a viable plan during hard times. It smacks of the philosophy that the quarterly earnings report is the only thing that matters, so expensive problems are pushed down the road for another CEO and Board of Directors to take the heat. We've seen how well that philosophy turned out as the nation's economy swirled down the toilet the past two years.

Instead of solving the current budget crisis, the governor and the legislature are simply deferring it, and not for very long, either.

Heckuva way to run a state, Arnold.

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Anonymous PeasantParty said...

It's not just California. All states are in hock. We have all lost since Bush was placed into office. The more I see things taking place, the more I believe it was all a plan to wreck this country and for them to control every inch of it!

10:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The wages of sin is death" - don't underestimate this type of thinking on the Right... that article you cited mentioned how $10 billion in cuts in New York yielded $54 billion in extra costs. It also caused more suffering in AIDS cases and TB causing deaths and so forth... people deemed to be wicked and for their wickedness horrible agony and death is just reward...

Take the part about the drug users. Sure it saves money to rehab them - but they are evil, they are wicked, they should repent in prison... and no they don't deserve help of any kind, just punishment.

This type of thought is particularly prevalent in Objectivist circles despite their claiming to be opposed to any kind of morality as we know it and their militant atheism... Objectivism has poisoned the minds of the U.S. leadership...

Oh, Schwarzenegger is also blackmailing his way into privatising the welfare system, the kind of contracting system used by Bush to loot the federal coffers dry... always there ought to be a cut for the most powerful, particularly when they fund their campaigns.

8:43 PM  

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