In 1996, at the end of the legislative session that year, I received a briefing on the electricity deregulation bill. I was being told that the bill would lead the state to a free market based power system. As I listened, I couldn’t see that outcome, but I knew so little about electricity distribution, and even less about free market principles. I knew I preferred free markets over government, taxation, and regulation, but I couldn’t articulate the principles, or how they should apply in that situation. I decided to study up.
One of the books I read was Socialism by Ludwig Von Mises. Late in the book, Mises wrote, in 1932, that it was unreasonable to expect an association of entrepreneurs, or an organization that relies on entrepreneurs as its principal basis of support, to take a principled stand against socialism. Since I had known every business organization in the state capitol to sell out the long term principles of small government and free markets for their personal short term interests, I had a moment of clarity. I thought to myself, from that point forward, I would never described myself as pro-business. I am pro-freedom, pro-free markets, pro-small government, pro-individual freedom.
Why is this important now? Recently a bunch of businesses, whose principal means of support is sucking off the government teet, threatened Republican members of Congress, saying they wouldn’t support them if they opposed the new gas tax that the socialists in Sacramento recently approved. Taxes are the key element of implementing a big government, socialist agenda. Today, the government wastes millions of dollars on more employees, who really do little to improve our quality of life in this state, but those employees do pay the government unions mandatory union fees, who then turn those fees into political contributions to politicians who directly government funds to hiring more employees, and thus more union dues, driving us further down the road to socialism.
California’s transportation system is a prime example of how the march toward socialism actually destroys our quality of life and feeds an unnecessary bureaucracy. In the years between 1950 and 1974, over 90% of our freeways were built. In that twenty four years, the state of California built thousands of miles of freeways with a CalTrans that had about 15% of its current workforce. Today, it now takes twenty four years to build one mile of freeway. We have six times the number of employees who literally do not build a mile of freeway. All they do is sit around and think about building freeways, they study this and they study that, but they build nothing, and cost us billions along the way.
Over the years, our gas tax, originally enacted to fund the growth and upgrading of our freeway system, has been diverted to various public transportation programs, like buses and subways (which, by the way, require government union employees to operate, unlike the car, which is the essence of freedom), and these politicians and government employees have starved the freeway system. They then demanded higher taxes, first in 1990, then this year, to do what they promised they would do when they created the taxes years ago. Today, between the gallonage and sales tax revenue earned by the government, the organization that profits most from the sale of gas is not the oil company, but rather the state government. And what do we get in return for this profiteering by politicians? Nothing, absolutely nothing.
But there are some businesses who make millions off the system, and so they are solicited by the socialists to use their friendship and influence with those of us who believe in freedom, to press us to stand for the outrageous agenda of the big government employee unions, and their minions in the Legislature. And these business do that, in order to keep their place in line at the gravy train. My advice to the members of Congress — Stand for Freedom. Somebody has to do it. You were elected by people like me to do just that. The business might give you money, but truthfully, we voters know when you are not standing for freedom. You will lose power if you listen to the siren song of the organized interests who make money off of government. As long as you keep power, these organized interests will have to like you. If you lose power, they will abandon you in a second. They are not your friends. And we are not forgiving, if we feel we have been betrayed. Fight the tax, Stand for freedom. Ignore the supporters of the Socialist agenda.