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Sunday, January 09, 2011

A billionaire takes an interest in California...

Now if only Illinois could have a billionaire to take an interest in fixing the issues we have in our state. This is mostly an interview, but I found these two questions and responses interesting:
Why do you think California went Democratic in the November election?

In my mind, the country is sort of fighting yesterday's war, saying, "We protest, we're not happy with the government." California is already fighting the next war, which is not just protest but reforms. We've created this bipartisan Think Long Committee to address short-term [and] long-term issues, issues that have to do with money and entitlements but also to do with the shape of government and how it functions. Now, some of these will require a popular vote, and some of these may not be embraced by Sacramento. One reason I think California is in trouble is [that] you can go directly to the voters. A lot of things that were voted on in the last 20 years have helped create these structural issues. [But] why not [use] the initiative process to help the reform process? That can be done in California. It cannot be done in a lot of other places.

It's so easy to get something on the ballot and into the constitution here, which is why we have more than 500 constitutional amendments. Are you saying the solution is inherent in what's contributed to the problem?

Why not? [In California] the concept of democracy -- it's sort of been hijacked by special interests, by short-term politics. To vote every two years on something that is highly promoted is not democracy. It's an illusion and a delusion. I think it's lying, in essence, to the public [to say], "Well, we live in a democracy because you can go to the polls every two years." The constitution has been changed so many times and by a lot of special-interest groups so that the system no longer serves the general public, and you have perversities that have become very evident in times of crisis, which is now. Let's trust [those we elect] to do things.

Are we capable of making short-term sacrifices for the sake of long-term gains, like giving up a little power -- fewer ballot measures, perhaps -- to make the whole state more powerful in the long run?

You make a very good point, which is a difficult point. Today you have a mind-set in the West, very self-indulgent, very short-term oriented, very used to immediate everything. Even though people know what the long term is, they may not be willing to go with the long term. In America, I think, people have spoiled themselves, building big houses, driving big gas-guzzling cars, not caring about energy costs and the effects of using up energy. All of these things are becoming question marks. Everybody in the West will have to make a decision. Will they be willing to sacrifice certain things if they want their children and grandchildren to have a life?

One of the strengths of the East -- there's Confucius: The culture is more willing to work together, and the idea of doing something for future generations is much deeper in the culture, the idea of shared responsibility. In the West [that] is harder, and in America is hardest. America, as opposed to other places, doesn't trust or believe, in essence, in government.
This is an article worth reading for certain!

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