Big Daddy

Big Daddy

Hey Big Daddy,
What’s going on with these pirates in Somalia? I didn’t even know there were real pirates. What would you do to stop this madness?

-Cruisin’ for a Bruisin’

Hey Cruisin,
Um, thanks for your question, I guess. You may not realize, but Somalia is slightly outside of my normal juristiction. But hey, good advice is good advice, right? So, I’ll continue.

First off, I’m canceling my Indian Ocean summer cruise. Which is really too bad, because I was kind of looking forward to the adventure. I’m just not looking forward to that much adventure.

See, I booked the tickets for the summer, figuring that since we solved the state’s budget crisis back in February, I could go ahead and take myself a summer vacation. You remember summer vacations, right Cruisin’? If you’re a Capitol staffer, you might not, but it was all that time you used to spend wreaking havoc when it was 1 million degrees outside, while your parents complained about how much money you were costing them in day care costs.

But, I digress. In fact, there are some similarities between the Somali pirate situation and the state budget process, now that you mention it.

You saw this coming, didn’t you, Gentle Reader?

Much like a Dutch merchant ship sailing through the Indian Ocean, our budget process is at terrible risk of being hijacked. In this scenario, I suppose legislative Republicans are the gun-boat riding pirates.

And I guess that makes the budget stakeholders, particularly the labor unions, in the role of Captain Philips. But that’s not really fair. The labor unions can be bullies, and are perfectly capable of pulling their own weapons on anyone who gets in their way. In case you were headed in that direction, there’s no reason to lose any sleep worrying about their fate.

But I can tell you, there were times when as speaker when I wished I had a couple of Navy Seals on hand to help negotiations along. I’m sure that in their more candid moments, Darrell Steinberg and Karen Bass feel exactly the same way. I mean, really, are there people in this economy who think that we can get out of our budget mess without raising revenues and cutting social programs? To think that we can either exclusively tax or cut our way out of this mess is as anachronistic as, well, pirates.

But bringing the analogy full circle, a couple of quick headshots may have alleviated the immediate problem, but the very next day, the pirates were right back at it again. And I must say, I’ve got some concerns about the troubled budget waters that lie ahead.

Regardless of what happens with this special election – and I think we all know where that is headed, don’t we – we’ve got a big, big problem ahead. And barring the help of another round of Navy Seal sharpshooters, I think we’re all powerless to do anything else but sit back and wait for the hostage takers to name their price.


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