California: The Honey Boo Boo state

Oct. 29, 2012

By Laer Pearce

If the latest polling from the Los Angeles Times/USC from October 15-21 holds true, California voters will pick Barack Obama over Mitt Romney by 14 points. Among the results of the bluest of the blue states, California’s vote will be, at best, mediocre. According to Real Clear Politics, New York is expected to go for Obama by 29 points, Massachusetts by 20 and Maryland by 19.

On ballot propositions, mediocrity also will rule.  Less than 30 percent of the state’s likely voters feel the state is going in the right direction, according to a September PPIC poll. But these same voters appear ready to sheepishly accept the wrong direction and cast votes that will shove the state further down a path they don’t like.

According to the October 26 Around the Capitol polling averages, Californians are expected to vote for continuing the Sacramento status quo of tax and spend, and for granting public employee unions a continuation of their dominant power. Proposition 30, Gov. Jerry Brown’s tax hike, is ahead by eight points. And Proposition 32, which would deprive the public unions of guaranteed political contributions from their members, is trailing by over five points.

The people also appear to continue their longstanding willingness to buy any fear-mongering thrown their way by trial attorneys with the expected passage by more than 10 points of Proposition 37, the genetically engineered foods labeling law. Did Californians learn anything from the biggest of the trial attorney propositions, 1986’s Proposition 65, which has soaked businesses for nearly half a billion dollars in fines and settlements, while providing no perceivable benefit to society? Apparently not.

Sub-par the norm

What’s going on with California? Simple: It’s become the Honey Boo Boo state, where the sub-par has become accepted as the norm, as personified by Shannon, Mike and Honey Boo Boo Thompson on TLC’s reality show, “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo.”

Cal State University Fullerton economist Mira Farka recently referred to the sluggish national economy as “the Honey Boo Boo economy,” but the term fits the state of affairs in California even better. We may not lead in many measures, but clearly we’re way ahead in accepting what should be defiantly rejected.

The Hollywood Reporter called the Honey Boo Boo show “horrifying,” and added, “’Here Comes Honey Boo Boo’ is a car crash, and everybody rubber-necks at a car crash, right?” How many times have we heard California referred to as a car crash or a train wreck? How often do visiting friends and family from more functional states grill us about what’s wrong with California, in the rhetorical counterpart to gawking at a crash scene?

They ask why San Franciscans qualified a ballot measure (since thrown out by the courts) that would have banned circumcision. Why, in the face of a $16 billion budget deficit, do California legislators busy themselves considering banning the sale of push pins (AB 1820)? And how can these same chronic spendthrifts vote with a straight face to support a resolution recognizing frugal shoppers through National Coupon Month (ACR 99)?

Why, if the state spends three times more on social welfare programs than it should, according to national per capita averages, is any cut to these programs reported as “cutting a swath through programs for the poor”? And how can Brown propose to hike the state’s income tax to the highest in the nation, while still pursuing a $62 billion high-speed train to nowhere?

The answer is simple: Voters in the Honey Boo Boo state appear content to vote again in 2012 to endorse the policies, politicians and power-brokers that have made mere mediocrity a seemingly out of reach goal for the state.

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Laer Pearce is a California public affairs consultant and the author of Crazifornia: Tales from the Tarnished State.


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