Jewish World Review August 29, 2003 / 1 Elul, 5763

Drs. Michael A. Glueck & Robert J. Cihak

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The California Tea Party and West Coast Determinism; Voter anger coming your way soon | Political earthquakes are a lot like real earthquakes. The pressures build slowly but relentlessly. You know it's going to happen. But when the earthquake strikes, you're always surprised that it did.

And thankful that, at least, this wasn't The Big One.

There's a political earthquake underway in California. And maybe, just maybe, it's The Big One.

Meanwhile, up in Washington State, there's tremoring of another kind. And maybe, just maybe, it's building to another kind of Big One.

For months, the media have dismissed and derided the California gubernatorial recall movement as an aberration, part cutesy, part malign. It is not. Governor Gray Davis' state-of-the-art ineptitude was the proximate cause, but more is involved. The recall is part of a larger tax revolt, but even more is involved.

After decades of tolerating the cynical abuses and outright corruption of the politicos, the trial lawyers, the lobbyists, the self-serving judicial activists - We the People of California want our government back. We're sick of the Grays, but we're equally sick of the Browns (Jerry and Willie) and the Roses (Bird).

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Perhaps there is an element of tantrum about all this. And there is, of course, nothing new about the taxes go up/services decline part of the economic cycle. It happens everywhere. But how do you go, in a year and a half, from a $10 billion budget surplus to a $40 billion deficit? How can one state, with ten percent of the country's population, end up owing more than the other forty-nine combined? And what sane - we dare not use the word "responsible" - politician would expect the electorate to tolerate a tripling of the car tax - a tax both hideously unfair to the poor and an assault upon the basic Californian and American icon and necessity.

Matters pertaining to fabricated energy crises, illegal immigration, the state of our roads and schools, and our general business environment, we shall pass over in silence.

Meanwhile, up in Washington State, there's another kind of discontent. No, Latte-land's neither as corrupt nor as venal as the People's Republic of California. But it, too, has known a car tax revolt. Several years ago, an Initiative Entrepreneur named Tim Eyman pushed through a flat $30 car tab renewal fee. The state did its best to crush the measure, along with nearly everything else Mr. Eyman has introduced. Yet his popularity has remained strong among both Left and Right as someone who takes on the system and gets things done.

Again, a car tax was the proximate cause. But more has been involved - cascading citizen disgust with the state's tandem of government waste-as-usual and what might be called Paralysis by Process. In Washington State, everybody seems to have a veto over everything. Most recent example: the state's utter inability to put together a reasonable transportation package that would meet the legitimate needs of Boeing and the trans-Pacific shipping industry. Boeing can fly its products out, but they need highways and rails to get the parts and workers in. For years, Boeing warned that, unless transportation problems were fixed, it would have no choice but to move.

Now, Washington State is not recalling its governor. Gary Locke has the sense to bow out gracefully. But increasingly, the voters despair of either party providing any resemblance of competent governance, let alone leadership.

And increasingly, the direct democracy of initiative, referendum, and recall seem the only way to discipline a government that now exists of, by, and for itself.

So what have we here? A Sacramento Tea Party, perhaps this time dumping politicians and those who over-lawyer instead of tea. And up north, an Olympia Coffee Klatch a'brewing in response to a Paralysis by Process.

While the media mocks and the politicians play the people plan to make things right. So don't laugh too long and too hard at California and West Coast Determinism. Tea and coffee parties will be moving East and coming to a capital in your state soon!

Michael Arnold Glueck, M.D., is a multiple award winning writer who comments on medical-legal issues. Robert J. Cihak, M.D., is a past president of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons and a Discovery Institute honorary fellow and board member. Both JWR contributors are Harvard trained diagnostic radiologists. Comment by clicking here.


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