Past Features

January 12, 2017

The Law of Small Numbers
Bad Timing for the Illegal Immigration State

Meryl Streep considers the issue as Gov. Jerry Brown warns of budget deficits
Glenn Spencer   
Public Finance for Dummies
  California has been importing poverty from south of the border ever since I warned about it twenty-five years ago.
    It now has the highest poverty rate in the nation.
    As a result California's public finance system is subject to wild fluctuations. I call it the law of small numbers (of taxpayers).
Michael Boskin & John Cogan -- Wall Street Journal -- June 4, 2012
    California's casino-like budget reflects its highly volatile revenue system. In good times it collects almost half its income taxes from the top 1% of the population, relying heavily on capital gains, taxed at ordinary income rates, and stock options. This exposes the state to dramatic revenue collapses during recessions and stock market declines. [...]
    In the past, Californians have supported more education spending on the assumption it would improve education outcomes. It hasn't. Sadly, the state has an elementary and secondary school system that ranks in the bottom fifth of all 50 states in math scores, and a high-school dropout rate that's soared relative to other states, especially for African Americans and Hispanics. 
    While it has marched up to the canon's mouth many times, the federal government and accounting games have saved California at the last minute.
    This time things are different - Trump is here. Not only is he not likely to continue the bailout, there is a good chance he will cut off funding to those entities that refuse to cooperate in enforcing our immigration laws. Bad timing.
    The looming California disaster is of the making of liberals like Meryl Streep who attacked President-elect Donald Trump at the recent Golden Globes ceremony.
    Streep conflated a handful of wealthy legal immigrants and visitors at the ceremony with millions of desperately poor Hispanics --- in California because of illegal immigration --- the cost of whom is bringing California to its knees.
    This idiocy is worthy of a Hollywood movie. I would suggest: "Public Finance For Dummies." It could star Donald Trump as the professor and Meryl Streep as the ignorant student