California Is The First Failed State

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California is the first failed state

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

California tried. And then it failed. Uniquely charged by its constitution to guarantee the “happiness” of its residents – the state empowered its people to demand by referendum whatever they wanted to spend money on – from better schools to bigger prisons and to refuse by referendum to pay the bills. A legislature paralyzed by the absence of a workable middle – and a requirement for a 2/3 vote to impose taxes – combined finally to dig the state into a possibly inescapable hole. Having now earned the lowest bond rating of any of the 50 states, the rates it pays to borrow keep getting higher. Yet borrowing seems to be all California can do to get through from day to day. That is what is known as The Road to Bankruptcy. “Happiness” thus engineered is doomed to collapse. The question is whether California is a special case–with a uniquely dysfunctional political culture–or a bellwether of failure soon to come to other high-spending states near you.

  • For the motion

    For

    Andreas Kluth

    Writer for The Economist

  • For the motion

    For

    Bobby Shriver

    Santa Monica City Council

  • For the motion

    For

    Sharon Waxman

    Editor-in-Chief, Founder, and CEO of TheWrap.com

  • Against the motion

    Against

    Gray Davis

    37th Governor of California

  • Against the Motion

    Against

    Van Jones

    Advisor for Green Jobs at the White House Council for Environmental Quality

  • Against the motion

    Against

    Lawrence O'Donnell

    Senior Political Analyst for MSNBC

  • Moderator Image

    Moderator

    John Donvan

    Author and correspondent for ABC News.

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Kluth

For The Motion

Andreas Kluth

Writer for The Economist

has been writing for the Economist since 1997 and currently covers California and the western states from Los Angeles. In previous assignments, he covered technology, Asian business and global finance.

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Bobby Shriver

For The Motion

Bobby Shriver

Santa Monica City Council

was elected to the Santa Monica City Council by the highest percentage of voters in that city’s 120-year history in 2004. Re-elected in 2008, he continues his work to reduce homelessness in the city and across Los Angeles County.

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Sharon Waxman

For The Motion

Sharon Waxman

Editor-in-Chief, Founder, and CEO of TheWrap.com

is editor in chief, founder, and CEO of TheWrap.com, a primary news source focused on the business of entertainment and media. She is an award-winning journalist and best-selling author, and a former Hollywood correspondent for the New York Times.

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Davis

Against The Motion

Gray Davis

37th Governor of California

was overwhelmingly elected the 37th governor of California in 1998, winning 58 percent of the vote. As Governor, he made education a top priority, signing legislation to strengthen California’s K-12 system, increasing accountability in schools, and expanding access to higher education with a record number of scholarships and college loans.

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Jones

Against The Motion

Van Jones

Advisor for Green Jobs at the White House Council for Environmental Quality

worked from March to September 2009 as the special advisor for green jobs at the White House Council for Environmental Quality, where he developed policy recommendations to help implement the Obama Administration’s commitment to clean energy jobs.

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O'Donnell

Against The Motion

Lawrence O'Donnell

Senior Political Analyst for MSNBC

is a senior political analyst for MSNBC and an Emmy-winning producer and writer of NBC’s The West Wing. From 1993 through 1995, O’Donnell was the Democratic chief of staff of the United States Senate Committee on Finance.

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Declared Winner: For The Motion

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