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Political Review: California Proposition 1C

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Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

This passage from the Gospel of Matthew (Matt 25:40) is supposed to be the motivation for the voters of California to pass Proposition 1c, a part of the Rebuild California Plan. But I say, "do not be fooled," for Prop 1c is, in reality, a lupine adorned in chamois.

Proposition 1c is declared by its proponents to be the friend of the friendless by providing funding for worthy causes such as battered women's shelters and housing assistance for the elderly and the disabled. But the truth is that much of the money is pork intended to relieve housing developers of the costs of creating parks and utility infrastructure in their new housing developments, a requirement in many California cities.

According to an analysis of Proposition 1c published by the League of Women Voters of California, housing construction and homebuyer programs are to receive $1.5 billion, only $50 million of which is to be allocated to homeless shelters. The balance is to go for things such as "construction of multi-family housing," and for "farm worker housing" (because the agricultural interests of California are too cheap to pay for it themselves.)

In addition, "development programs" are to receive $1.35 billion for such goals as "transit-oriented development" which looks to me to mean "housing development in urban areas near public transportation".

I know it's tough buying a house in California today, but it wasn't people such as me who caused home prices to rise so high. It took me 20 years and a lot of work, but I have completely paid for my home. I am not using my home equity to buy expensive toys like SUVs and boats I can only use once a year. If more people were more responsible with their assets, more people could afford to buy homes today without government assistance, because fewer opportunities to profit on someone's misery would be offered.

But that scene wouldn't play well with "entrepreneurs." Investors seeking a quick buck from "flipping" properties exacerbated an already-aggravated housing market at a time when housing nationally is over-built and under-bought, in part because of job losses and reduced wages. Inventories are high, and with developers cutting profit margins to offer incentives to buy, one can understand why they would be calling in all those chits they stacked up during the electoral campaigns in the past through contributions to their sycophantic candidates.

This explains why the bill passed the California Legislature 27-11 in the Senate and 54-16 in the Assembly at a time when state spending should be focused on real needs and not real estate needs.

Because of this collusion between investors and their pet politicians, California is now home to 21 of the 25 least affordable cities in America, and only 14 percent of families in California can own median-priced homes of $561,000.  I make a good wage, but I could not qualify to buy the home I live in if I were in the market today. I have neighbors who are living dormitory-style in order to cover their mortgage payments, with as many as ten working adults living in one three-bedroom home, some bunking in family rooms and garages with spouses and children.

On this issue of subsidizing housing costs, as Prop 1c is intended to do for low-income and first-time buyers along with the elderly and handicapped, I stand with those fiscal conservatives who love to spout "free market" values. If the market isn't buying what the developers are building, maybe they need to build what the public can afford to buy rather than expect the state's taxpayers — the ones who already can't afford to buy their pricey products — to bail them out of a lean time through higher tax expenditures.

I'm uncomfortable with real social issues (which desperately need funding) being coupled as camouflage to what amounts to an open pork barrel for real estate interests. Just as with Proposition 1a, which sought to use primary educational funding as the reason to oppose the measure, a worthy interest needs to be presented on its own merits to the public, and not be horse trading for support with those whose interests are not so altruistic just to get the few crumbs which fall to the floor.

Because of this evident rescue of private interest hiding beneath a cause intended to inspire guilt feelings if one doesn't aid the needy, I have to recommend that Proposition 1c not be passed – which may shock one of my brother critics that a liberal like me could pass up a chance to spend "his" money.

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About pessimist

  • scout

    pess, I am voting negative on this prop. NO MORE TAX INCREASES. It’s that simple.

    We must get rid of taxation, not increase taxes. If we want to help people, then we must pass laws forcing corps to provide essential drugs to the poor at bottom line prices: like about a nickel.