Back in the day when he was Gov. Moonbeam, you couldn’t help but love Jerry Brown as the embodiment of everything kooky, adventurous and free-spirited about California where so many believed in impossible dreams.
Today, he seems less about moonbeams lighting our hopes than a tired old man-in- the-moon who double-talks like every other politicians of every stripe.
One moment he is the tough guy, promising to rein in public workers’ pensions and salaries, balance the budget without gimmicks by slashing spending and do whatever is necessary to get California back on track.
The next minute he’s crying about people losing their jobs and moms losing their child care while he inflate revenue numbers, defers costs into the future and raids every fund the state has, like the settlement from banks that was supposed to help the people ripped off on home loans and one-time windfall like Facebook going public.
He’s still relying on “triggers” that never seem to get pulled even when the budget deficit doubles to $16 billion so he wants to soak the rich with massive tax hikes while mortgaging everyone else’s future to build a bullet train that only the rich could afford to ride.
What he really needs to do is pull the trigger and put a bullet into the nonsense that the problem is the recession rather than his own and the legislature’s gutless incompetence.
This is a weak economic recovery. This is the recovery. It’s as good as it gets.
Rather than canoeing a little left and a little right as he used to say back in the day, he now seems timid as he takes two steps after each tentative step forward.
The last great American newspaper columnist Mike Royko popularized the Gov. Moonbeam label in 1979, calling California “the world’s largest outdoor mental asylum … If it babbles and its eyeballs are glazed, it probably comes from California.”
Everyone got a laugh out of making fun of the state, even Californians but it really isn’t so apt any longer. It isn’t California that’s crazy; it’s the whole world that’s gone crazy.
We are in a state of perpetual warfare and global tension even as the 200-year boom that created the vast middle class populations in America and Europe is over. The First World countries are becoming nations of rich and power with shrinking middle classes while giant Third World countries like China, India and Brazil are booming.
Since the truth of our condition exploded in our faces in October 2008, our leaders have tried to buy time by cooking the books and political posturing.
Time has run out. The party is over. Consumer demand is not going to drive the economy. We need to face reality and get to work remaking our society.
Jerry Brown knows better than what he’s done. His proposal to give state workers the four-day, 38-hour week with a 5 percent pay cut shows he know we have to redefine work rules and income expectations.
We have to create a society that values happiness and freedom — not personal wealth and legalistic controls.
We need to create a sustainable society that serves the broad populace — not a phony “green” society that makes elitists feel good about themselves as if their Prius doesn’t pollute the air.
Jerry Brown knows better. So do all kinds of people in high and low places. Yet we keep on fighting for petty little advantages and keep on hoping everything will get better if we just put a smiley face on it and pretend we solved what’s wrong.
Time is not on our side. But I can’t help but wonder if people like Jerry Brown (and Barack Obama for that matter) and all the others who know what has to be done but won’t do it, what hope is there?