[Erratum by omission: I forgot to clearly mention that Bob Morris of Politics in the Zeroes and Ross of the Bloviator had been all over these issues.]
I live in Los Angeles County, and we are for a variety of reasons at the cutting edge of the healthcare crisis. Illegal immigration, poverty, gang violence, small low-wage employers and an inept and isolated County Board of Supervisors all are combining to create a public healthcare system (as well as a public health system) that has been teetering on the brink of disaster for a decade.
By any objective measure, the system is insolvent.
And so the voters are being asked to bail it out with a $0.03/sf property tax overlay.
Now this is the fiscal equivalent of charging the mortgage on the credit cards. You can do it once, and it will buy some time, but in no way does it solve the underlying problems you are facing.
The opponent of the measure make a good argument:

Don’t let the state off the hook for its responsibility to pay for the County’s trauma/emergency care system. The State has mismanaged its budget, and Measure B is asking you to foot the bill by increasing your property taxes by at least $175 million a year. This tax will go up as the cost of living increases.

And they are right. This crisis is a symptom of a deeper crisis at all levels of government, federal, state, and local as our elected officials seem to be unable to manage their way to performing the core functions of government. Check out today’s L.A. Times article, State Spends Its Way Into Budget Crisis: “Davis, legislators of both parties lavished windfall on programs. Analysts see years of pain ahead.”
The California leadershop spent money like a crack addict on vacation in Cali, and like the addict, the hangover is going to be a bitch and the family is really going to suffer.
There are a lot of reasons for this, but I’ll suggest two books as good primers:
Arrogant Capital: Washington, Wall Street and the Frustration of American Politics, by Kevin Phillips and Government’s End: Why Washington Stopped Working, by Jonathan Rausch.
But, as Jeff Cooper pointed out, life must go on while we struggle with these deeper issues.
And the reality is that we won’t solve them for decades, if at all. And while we do, people will still get sick, be struck by cars, get stabbed and shot, and need medical care.
We can simply let them stack up in the halls of the few remaining hospitals, or we can do something. Something, in this case, involves putting the mortgage on the credit card in order to buy some time in the faint hope that we will work to try and sort our way through this mess.
So I’m urging a “yes” vote on Los Angeles County Proposition B.
Supporters of Prop B include: The L.A. Chamber of Commerce AND the AFL/CIO and a scattering of local elected officials.
The supporters are mounting a piss-poor campaign in an election guaranteed to have light turnout (not good for the spend-it-all folks), and California law requires a 66.6% “yes” vote to prevail, so I’m not hopeful.
I’ll actually be phonebanking on this one.


  1. Cutting edge? Try Oregon, where we are currently voting (at home via mail ballot) on a state-wide universal health plan. In a state with one of the highest unemployment rates in the nation.

  2. Hey, I said ‘crisis’, not ‘solution’…*grin*. I’m interested in this; I’ve seen some peripheral articles about it and it appears to be reaching pretty far (hence the widespread opposition)…

  3. Hey, Thx for putting my name in the title!
    Prop 13 is also a contributory factor here, as it cut way down on revenues.
    Harbor-UCLA is the only Level 1 trauma center in LA County. If Prop B doesn’t pass, it will close.

  4. It sounds as though Jarvis-Gann is finally coming home to roost (again):
    1) CA passes Prop. 13 – 1978.
    2) Reagan places the same plank at the center of his platform, and succeeds in beginning to drag US Congress into the act. – 1980
    3) “Contract With (On?) America”, a national Prop. 13, among other things. With the increasing whittling of the federal budget, states are forced to pay for the same services out of their own budgets (a problem, since they’ve already had their Prop. 13 “revolts”) – 1994.
    4) After the political high of slashing taxes comes the hangover of being unable to fund the government services the taxpayers want – ???
    5) The county I now live in (in NY) has just raised it’s property taxes by about 20% (on average) to deal with its own budget crisis (of course, years of “work” by a county political machine that made Tammany Hall look like a Sunday school picnic have something to do with that too, but that’s another story).
    TANSTAAFL – Good luck with Prop. B

  5. AL,
    Just blogged this. Thanks for the title mention (although a link wouldn’t hurt! ;)). I’m certain fiscal mismanagement plays a part in this, and agree that their plan to raise property taxes is a one-time patch that offers no long-term solutions. It’s a ridiculously complicated situation, due in part to a fractured safety net system that relies on disparate, largely unconnected providers to offer various aspects of care to the poor and near-poor, and poor communication between public health providers and the money distributors.
    I find abhorrent the idea of “Let’s demonstrate our anger by voting to close their clinics.” When their kids get whooping cough because the kids in the indigent neighborhood a few miles down the freeway can’t get their shots, or their loved one can’t get care quickly enough following a traumatic automobile accident, they’ll wake up. (At least, I hope they wake up. And I hope that it doesn’t take such a terrible situation for them to get the message. I fear, however, that nothing will happen until that point.)

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