From Reality in hiring to Reality in government

Lief M. Hendrickson (hendrick@NOSC.MIL)
Thu, 15 Dec 1994 15:28:10 PST

On Dec 15, Mike Salovesh posted a discussion of "Reality in
Hiring" as related to the practices of his university. He
referred to "...the systematic dismantling of the system of
public higher education in Illinois--and California,
and New York, and Texas, and Minnesota..." He stated:
> If you must,
> aim your first kick at the idjits who passed Prop 13 in
> California and started a national movement to dump taxes that could
> only result in cutting essential services--like higher ed.

Mr. Salovesh is in Illinois, but he has more insight into the
mischief of California's Prop 13 of 1979 than many Californians
do- even though it's happening right under their noses. It
recently even had a specific impact on Anthropology. A couple of
years ago, in response to budget cuts, the whole anthropology
dept. at San Diego State University was cut. Undergraduate
students were forced to transfer to other universities the next
year if they wanted to continue in their major. The dept. was
reinstated a year later though many students did not return.

A little background for those outside of California. Prop 13
created a method of tax assessment that has favored special
interest groups at the expense of the young and poor. The most
recent challenge was by property owner Stephanie Nordlinger who
lost by a U.S. Supreme Court decision on June 18, 1992. The sole
dissenting vote was by Justice John Paul Stevens who stated,
"Simply put, those who invested in California real estate in the
1970s are among the most fortunate capitalists in the world.
Prop 13 has provided these successful investors with a tremendous
windfall, and, in so doing, has created severe inequities in
California's property tax scheme."

In her response to the court's adverse ruling, Ms. Nordlinger
pointed out that "It leaves new homeowners paying five, 10, 20
times as much as their neighbors for no good reason." The law
has been characterized as California's "Welcome Stranger"
greeting because new homeowners must bear the brunt of the tax
burden. Have any of the readers of this list seen other
societies that have been as successful in getting newcomers to
foot the bills of government?

Early this year, assemblyman Phil Isenberg (of Sacramento) said,
"Proposition 13 is just a law. But in some sense it is also a
symbol for an attitude and an approach to government that
refuses to publicly acknowledge and debate what everyone will
privately say is a mess."

The cohesive forces that oppose any real attempts at change seem
to be that nobody likes to pay taxes, and the implication that
any change will mean out-of-control taxes for everyone. Do
attempts at tax control in other states also accompany a
disproportionate tax burden as in California?

Lief Hendrickson