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August 24, 2010

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Eric "Prior generations had access to a level of property tax revenue that future generations do not."

No they did not, because property values weren't skyrocketing at the time. They had access to a fairly predictable amount of property tax year-to-year based on fairly stable property values.

In fact they had access to a lower level of property tax *revenue*, as I have already shown in the cites that you requested.

What Prop 13 did was keep it from automatically scaling into an enormously ballooning tax liability. Which considering the justice implications of having a surprise tax bill grow enormously that you can't pay for without selling combined with the fact that the state has still gotten much more out of the increasing property values at the time of sale, sounds ok to me.

O'hara's argument is that there is some baseline level of services that older generations supported and that newer ones are shirking from paying for. The actual tax numbers don't support that argument.

If you want to argue that failure to pay even more money than that is shirking, that is fine, but a totally different argument.

Jacob, I've already responded to that.

Basically you can either believe that middle class wages have been stagnating (a common belief here) or that governments have had to pay fantastically more than inflation to keep up with the private sector. And I do mean fantastically more, look at the numbers I quoted for California.

But you can't have both.

Which one do you want?

You can imagine why if you think of an economy with no population growth and no inflation, but a steady rate of economic growth.

I understand your point, Jacob, but I must say that I have a hard time picturing such an economy.

I have no trouble imagining a society with constant population whose GDP grows in NOMINAL terms over time, but that's not zero inflation.

I have no trouble imagining a society where everybody's REAL income is fairly constant over time, but I can't get economic growth out of that without population growth.

I suppose I'd have to imagine a small nation with fairly constant population consisting mostly of fishermen and shepherds who transform themselves into mostly computer programmers and investment bankers over time. But then I have to imagine ANOTHER society for them to trade with.

California obviously has no shortage of "other societies" to trade with. Over time, it can obviously change from an exporter of wine and lettuce to an exporter of movies and microchips, raising its per-capita income in real terms. So maybe it fits into the third category.

But I still have a hard time with this: if you wall off a segment of the population, namely the public employees, and keep their income constant while everybody else's income grows, can you really tell them "Don't worry, there's no actual inflation going on"?

--TP

Did general domestic salaries increase at 84% above inflation?
We both know they didn't so I won't ask for a cite.

Do we both know that employee *compensation* has risen considerably more than salaries, both bc of healthcare and, for state employees, bc unions agreed to accept more of their compensation as pension rather than wages? Perhaps we both do, now.


Health care costs, according to this article account for about 1/3rd of California General Fund expenditures across categories (some direct aid, some indirectly via employee compensation).

But even discounting that possibility, almost all of the Baumol effect job in the public sector that I can think of scale on population (policing, teaching, public health services like STD clinics) not GDP. So this is mostly corrected for when I cite population corrected numbers, which I already have.

Whether or not the number of Baumol effect jobs scales with population or not is not the point at all; the point is that these jobs tend to cost more to perform relative to the past even though they do not see productivity gains. It is actually more expensive in constant dollars to educate a student today than in 1950, because teachers' salaries must maintain close to parity with factory workers' salaries to attract moderately-qualified teachers.

And, to add a tiny bit of direct factual information to this attempt to extrapolate information indirectly: California reached 47th in the US in per-student spending (and this in a state with high living expenses) cite. Cali was around average up until the late 70s or early 80s, and then dropped to the bottom of the rankings. cite. Check out figure 6- Cali schools used to receive 50-60% of their funding from property taxes, until Prop 13. After that, this fell below 30% (altho it appears to have climbed as high as 35% in the mid-90s before falling back below 30%).

"Whether or not the number of Baumol effect jobs scales with population or not is not the point at all"

No, that is a huge part of the point, because that is how many of them you have to add.

"It is actually more expensive in constant dollars to educate a student today than in 1950, because teachers' salaries must maintain close to parity with factory workers' salaries to attract moderately-qualified teachers."

More expensive than inflation, but NOT more expensive than private sector compensation. Which again, nearly everyone on this site believes has been stagnant.

"California reached 47th in the US in per-student spending (and this in a state with high living expenses) cite."

Which is an ordinal ranking. How about a dollar comparison with spending among First World countries? The California amount averages $8,607. According to the OECD data compiled here that means that it spends well above the OECD average, beating out such educational slackers as: Australia (7283), Canada (7774), France (7712), Germany (6985), Japan (7661), Netherlands (8109), Sweden (8123, and the UK (8306).

So in terms of *spending* for education, California looks pretty good, and the US as a whole looks even better.

The figure 6 you cite doesn't show what you think it does. You seem to cite it as a sudden drop in property tax collection or something. It actually shows "The Legislature responded by shifting property tax revenues from schools and community colleges to cities, counties, and special districts in 1979. In turn, the state increased its share of funding for schools and community colleges."

This shift also largely formalized what was already happening as a response to Serrano v. Priest (1971) in which the Supreme Court required California to collect school money and distribute it evenly across school districts.

The graph definitely does not show a sudden drop in available property taxes.

More expensive than inflation, but NOT more expensive than private sector compensation. Which again, nearly everyone on this site believes has been stagnant.

Salary, not compensation. I just explained this, are you immune to facts that deflate your argument or what? Healthcare costs are a huge part of compensation. And since when did "nearly everyone here believes" become your standard of proof anyway?

"Whether or not the number of Baumol effect jobs scales with population or not is not the point at all"

No, that is a huge part of the point, because that is how many of them you have to add.

That has nothing to do with the Baumol effect. If you don't understand it, that's fine, look it up rather than saying the wrong thing and then defending it as if it were right.

Which is an ordinal ranking. How about a dollar comparison with spending among First World countries? The California amount averages $8,607.

I recall you in debates on health care costs *fervently* denying the utility of a cross-country comparison, since so many other variables can't be accounted for. Now, I think that this is more useful than that (bc my views of data sources isn't as dependent on whether they fit my theories or not), but this certainly indicates that Cali is lagging the rest of the US, relatively. Whatever cultural, fiscal, technological, etc trends exist, Cali is falling behind the rest of the country for some reason.

The figure 6 you cite doesn't show what you think it does. You seem to cite it as a sudden drop in property tax collection or something.

It shows the origin of the funds for local schools, by percentage, based on source. Which is what i said that it showed. And I said Cali schools used to receive 50-60% of their funding from property taxes, until Prop 13. After that, this fell below 30%- I did not cite it as showing a drop in absolute funding from property taxes. Perhaps this is what you wished that I had said, but I think you'll find it more fruitful to address my actual arguments. Or not, depending on what your goals are here.

"It shows the origin of the funds for local schools, by percentage, based on source. Which is what i said that it showed. And I said Cali schools used to receive 50-60% of their funding from property taxes, until Prop 13. After that, this fell below 30%- I did not cite it as showing a drop in absolute funding from property taxes. Perhaps this is what you wished that I had said, but I think you'll find it more fruitful to address my actual arguments. "

Ok, so how does that impact your argument at all then? It seems completely useless if you didn't mean that. I would apologize for assuming that you meant it to mean something useful, but that would be weird.

"Salary, not compensation. I just explained this, are you immune to facts that deflate your argument or what?"

What facts are you talking about? Have you provided a cite suggesting that salary plus compensation has increased enough to account for it? Compensation has not gone up by that much and we both know it. So it doesn't have the explanatory force that you seem to think.

"And since when did "nearly everyone here believes" become your standard of proof anyway?"

That isn't a standard of proof, just a statement of fact. And you're not the only one who reads the comments, just so you know. I already spend a lot of time arguing 4 ways from Friday. Both Jacob and Eric have suggested they believe that pay has been stagnant in the past. If you aren't one of those people great. The magnitude isn't enough anyway.

"That has nothing to do with the Baumol effect. If you don't understand it, that's fine, look it up rather than saying the wrong thing and then defending it as if it were right."

I'm well aware of it. And it has quite a bit to do with how the Baumol effect interacts with public service. The Baumol effect is about jobs where efficiency increases are difficult to come by because by their very nature they have characteristics which make it difficult to automate or delegate. Live music performance is often cited. In public service, it would be jobs where an individual has to interact with another individual or small group. Say for example teaching, in which you can't scale up efficiencies because they can only teach so many students.

Again in public services, most Baumol effect problems come into play because they have to serve people directly and in person. This is of course a function of population which is why I mention population so often.

Which is what I said.

You flying off the handle and suggesting I don't understand it is kind of funny considering that you apparently don't understand how the economic term actually interacts with public services. You are right that it is quite relevant. You are wrong that it has nothing to do with population.

Apologies for not following up on the Georgia question, RL came knocking, and is now, as we speak, fixing to haul me out the door.

The reason I asked about the HOPE scholarships in Georgia is that I'm curious what people feel is the most appropriate (which may or may not be the 'best') way to fund higher education. I struggle to explain to my Japanese colleagues how we don't have a national education system and how people decide where to go to school. I don't know enough about Georgia's system, but my interest was piqued when I read somewhere that Georgia has or had the lowest in-state tuition, presumably when the HOPE scholarships were included. thx

What Prop 13 did was keep it from automatically scaling into an enormously ballooning tax liability.

Sebastian, perhaps you just arguing what the effect actually was. But let me give you a first hand account of what the intent of (and argument for) Prop 13 was.

In the late 1970s, inflation was extremely high. As a result, everything (including houses) cost a lot more every year. Which was fine if you had a job, with a salary rising at the same rate. But if you were retired and on a fixed income, having the assessed value of your home (and hence the property taxes) go up every year was a disaster. So the rallying cry was "don't let grandma be forced out of her home!"

Note, there was nothing, absolutely nothing, in the argument about constraining government spending. (That may have been a motivation for the authors, but it wasn't how their sold their proposition.) It was all about keeping the elderly in their homes.

"Sebastian, perhaps you just arguing what the effect actually was. But let me give you a first hand account of what the intent of (and argument for) Prop 13 was."

No, I absolutely agree that it was about not letting grandma be forced out of her home. That was what I meant by "enormously ballooning tax liability", but I didn't want to get to emotionally charged about it.

Ok, so how does that impact your argument at all then? It seems completely useless if you didn't mean that. I would apologize for assuming that you meant it to mean something useful, but that would be weird.

I mean what I actually say. This is not a complicated concept. It seems odd for you to respond to your demonstrated lack of reading comprehension with an attempt at insult, but so be it- Im quite used to how you handle this sort of thing.

What facts are you talking about? Have you provided a cite suggesting that salary plus compensation has increased enough to account for it? Compensation has not gone up by that much and we both know it. So it doesn't have the explanatory force that you seem to think.

Did you ask for a cite, or did you act like the matter hadn't been raised at all? If you'd asked for a cite, I might have provided something. Instead, you just went back to talking about stagnant salaries.
And will you quit with the "we both know it" crap? You ask for cites- hell, you apparently don't even ask for cite, you just pretend something hasn't been said- and then you follow that with a brush-off of any need to produce evidence yourself. You jes' know, and that's enough for you.
1Median income from 1980 to 2003 increased from 38k to 43k
2Healtcare costs increased from about 1k per capita to 5k per capita.
If the lion's share of that was rolled into increased premiums, then that's about same order of magnitude of increase in compensation in salary.
It's indirect- it's late and I don't want to bother finding a better set of numbers. But even you have to admit it's more persuasive than someone telling me that 'we both know' his facts are true without bothering to support them.

"And since when did "nearly everyone here believes" become your standard of proof anyway?"
That isn't a standard of proof, just a statement of fact. And you're not the only one who reads the comments, just so you know.

The point is that, if you're interested in actual facts, then you ought to be producing actual facts. The consensus opinion around here might be mistaken, after all. We are (at least in theory) trying to get to the truth here, not just trying to mangle some partisan angles to make ourselves feel better about our pre-rational positions. Aren't we?
Just as you went from an ardent opponent of the principle of comparing US services (heathcare) to other countries to arguing that it was necessary to compare US services (education) to other countries rather than to other states. That lack of intellectual consistency is troubling- or, ought to be, if you even still maintain a self-image of someone interesting in understanding instead of justifying.

Again in public services, most Baumol effect problems come into play because they have to serve people directly and in person. This is of course a function of population which is why I mention population so often.
Which is what I said.

This is just confused thinking. Baumol effects come into play because these jobs require an individual doing something that can't be easily improved or automated. You need more of them where there is a population increases, but that is completely independent of the fact that Baumol jobs demand higher salaries over time as productivity increases in other jobs (ie real the cost per unit of work increases as overall productivity increases).
That is, the Baumol effect happens if population stays static- if productivity were to increase without a population increase, there would be a corresponding Baumol increase in salaries of in jobs that didn't have productivity increases. Or, if population increases without any increase in productivity, there will need to be more teachers but there will be no Baumol-effect upwards pressure on their salaries.
You're becoming confused because both processes are happening at the same time, but they are not related.

You flying off the handle and suggesting I don't understand it is kind of funny considering that you apparently don't understand how the economic term actually interacts with public services. You are right that it is quite relevant. You are wrong that it has nothing to do with population.

You don't understand. Yes, the Baumol effect often happens because iot involves working with individuals or small groups, but that has nothing to do with what the effect *is*- upwards pressure on salaries where there are no actual productivity gains, making the cost per unit of work more expensive over time.
And, sadly, you really just don't bother to read other peoples' comments carefully unless you think there's something you can tear apart. I feel that you're totally bright enough to grasp this distinction, but that you're too busy to actually try to learn something.

Proposition 13 was about giving businesses a break on property tax, and that's been its major effect. (It wasn't worded that way, of course.)

"I mean what I actually say. This is not a complicated concept. It seems odd for you to respond to your demonstrated lack of reading comprehension with an attempt at insult, but so be it- Im quite used to how you handle this sort of thing."

That's nice. How did referencing that graph fit in with your argument? I gave the most plausible innocent explanation: that you misread it into thinking it supported any of anyone's points in the discussion.

The major alternative is that you knew it didn't apply, and hoped that people would misinterpret it--i.e. that you were being rhetorically deceptive. I gave you the benefit of the doubt on that, but now I'd like you to explain in detail how you thought it fit.

I don't think you can, because I think you made a mistake. Which is fine, but didn't require the snarky response.

But I suppose it could be that you were intentionally deceptive. I wouldn't like to believe that.

Or I could have been mistaken about the usefulness of figure 6. In which case your explanation will make that more obvious.

That's nice. How did referencing that graph fit in with your argument? I gave the most plausible innocent explanation: that you misread it into thinking it supported any of anyone's points in the discussion.

That would be plausible if that's what I said. It's not really plausible that I referenced the graph and said one thing about it, but I really meant another *and* was mistaken on that point. It seems to me more plausible that you made one mistake rather than you thought that I made *two* mistakes...
The article does discuss the drop in funds available due to Prop 13, and how the state stepped into that gap- the graph shows this process occurring. Since we're discussing how California's initiative process has led to strains on the state budget, this shows the state budget taking on a much larger burden for education because of Prop 13, and how that burden was not subsequently picked up by growth in property taxes but remained at the state level, absorbed by other funding sources (including borrowing). And it's not the case that subsequent growth in property tax receipts merely bloated Cali's education budget at least relative to the rest of the US, since Cali is 47th in per-student spending and has slid in the rankings since Prop 13.
So I didn't cite it to show absolute numbers- you were mistaken on that point. And my point above is neither incoherent nor irrelevant, so I suppose instead of my making two mistakes, that appears to be you with the double slip-up.

The major alternative is that you knew it didn't apply

The major alternative that you apparently cannot see- the elephant in the room- is that you were just &%*&ing wrong. As you were wrong about growth in population being related to the Baumol effect. As you were wrong in insisting that only comparisons across countries could possibly be relevant when you've equally vehemently taken the opposite position to suit your argument when convenient.
You're spinning your wheels here- the best you can come up with is a mistaken inference on your part about what argument I was making. But keep whacking away at that point, it saves you from either walking away or- worse- facing your inconsistencies.

Really, just try one: when comparing healthcare systems, you insisted that cross-country comparisons were basically invalid, that the US had special circumstances that couldn't be accounted for in such comparisons. And that may have some truth to it, although an intellectually honest approach would ask what those factors were rather than using the position as an blanket obstacle to using other countries' numbers. But now, you would much rather make cross-country comparisons without so much as a parenthetical aside that they might not be perfectly comparable. You raise them in preference to state-by-state comparisons, in fact, although I see no plausible reason to think that California's education spending would be more correlated with the education spending of the Dutch than that of Oregon or Kentucky. If you are trying to sidetrack us onto a conversation about how education spending in the US is bloated- well, that might be an interesting topic to discuss with someone who actually wanted to discuss something, as opposed to using it to stop talking about a topic that they aren't doing very well on.
You would be screaming bloody murder if cross-country comparisons didn't suit your pre-rational position. And so I say, you have very little interest in uncovering the truth of anything, merely satisfying yourself via rather obvious tactics that your current positions are correct.

"The article does discuss the drop in funds available due to Prop 13, and how the state stepped into that gap- the graph shows this process occurring."

No, I'm afraid you're flatly wrong, but I'm glad it doesn't seem that you were trying to be deceptive.

The graph most certainly does not show a drop in available property taxes. It shows *the state legislature* shifting the payments for schools from a local level to a state level.

The California Supreme Court case Serrano v. Priest required that school spending be equalized across districts *by 1980*. The state was having immense difficulty harmonizing the spending, largely because property tax disparities in districts (already high) were fluctuating wildly due to difficult to predict skyrocketing prices in some areas but not others--the very thing that supporters of Prop 13 complain about. Since they had not been harmonized as of 1979, the legislature was going to have to take drastic action in any event. One very logical alternative was to take over most of the funding directly, so that the state wouldn't have to track as much in the way of fluctuations. This graph very likely would have been very similar even if Prop 13 had never happened, because the state was being forced to take over more control of school funding. (Similar progression of school funding equalization happened in other large states without Prop 13). Prop 13 made this particular solution more palatable, but not inevitable.

The article discusses a drop in funds, self-references it, and ultimately cites back to this flyer from an anti-Prop 13 group in its campaign literature. This historical document is great to prove what anti-Prop 13 people said would be the consequences. But it of course should be read as campaign literature, not proof of an actual unavailability of tax revenue when it came down to it. It may or may not be the best one can do during the campaign, but it is certainly good evidence in 2007 for how much the tax base actually dropped. Like most campaign literature it represents a worst case scenario. Though interestingly, it posits a 10% increase in annual school budgets, in order to get its scary numbers, which is what actually turned out to be available in increased property taxes anyway (I've already linked the actuals earlier in the thread).

"this shows the state budget taking on a much larger burden for education because of Prop 13, and how that burden was not subsequently picked up by growth in property taxes but remained at the state level, absorbed by other funding sources (including borrowing)."

No, it shows that the state took over much of the funding and had property tax revenue go to city and county municipalities INSTEAD of schools. It doesn't show a sudden drop in availability of property taxes. If I have a bank account A where my salary goes via direct deposit and bank account B where my husband's salary goes via direct deposit, and I stop paying for health care out of A and instead pay for it out of B while offering more to him out of A to pay for time-to-time car repairs, a graph showing health care payouts by account will show a large drop in B and a large increase in A. It doesn't prove or even suggest, that my salary is no longer going into A, nor does it prove that his salary is no longer going into B.

"And that may have some truth to it, although an intellectually honest approach would ask what those factors were rather than using the position as an blanket obstacle to using other countries' numbers."

You are deeply misremembering my position on that. My schtick for years on cross country health comparisons has been that they suggest that there is something weird going on in America and that we should darn well figure out what it is before assuming that we can just adopt someone else's system.

See for example here in a post I wrote.

Essentially the US government already spends enough money to have a universal system, but only actually covers about 27% of the population.

And this isn't a story of the triumph of the free market in the US. The private sector spends 8.1% of GDP and covers only 69% of the population. 8.1% of GDP is enough to cover the universal public spending of every country other than Germany. And with Medicare and Medicaid taking many of the oldest and sickest patients, the private systems aren't even necessarily covering most of the expensive patients.

So what is going on here? Both the government and the private sector already spend more than enough money on their own to each cover the expenditures of a universal system. I honestly don't know. But I find it surprising that the fact that our government already spends enough money to cover the universal systems of almost any other Western nation doesn't get discussed much. It has enormous policy repercussions for both sides of the debate (universal health care advocates might want to examine why the government doesn't already provide universal health care considering the money it spends, and private health care advocates should do the same).

My guess is that 3 things contribute to the discrepancy: doctor salaries (much higher in the US), futilely spending too much on that last month before death (anecdoteally much higher in the US, I'd love to see useful comparison statistics), and overuse of the system by the middle class which has private insurance, for trivial matters because they don't see the costs other than a copayment. But this is just a guess. I don't really know, because for whatever reason the discussion of "why don't we have universal health care, our government and private systems EACH spend enough for it compared to other countries" hasn't been raised.

Here where russell illustrates that has been my repeated focus from even earlier than the post:

Note that we famously pay more in public money for health care than any other OECD nation. Then, we pay about that same amount again in private funds.

Nobody has answered the question Sebastian asked about this a while back:

Why do we already pay more than any other similar nation in public money without covering the same proportion of the population, and also without getting equally good (let alone better) outcomes?

By me, later in that same comment thread:

The US spends about 8.1% of GDP in private expenditures on health care.

That alone (without any public expenditures) is more than Canada spends for its entire universal health care system. This covers about 69% of people in the US.

The public expenditures in the US are 6.6%, just under the amount that Canada uses for universal health care. This covers about 26% of people in the US.

Either the private OR the public expenditures in the US could cover the universal health care system of the UK and are within easy reach of Canada. Yet both together in fact only cover about 84% of the population."

I don't know exactly what is going on. I *suspect* that it involves much higher doctor salaries, much more intensive last-month-of-life therapy, and quite a bit of visiting the doctor when you don't need to by some in the insured population.

I not only fail to resist the cross country comparison of spending in health care, I raised it repeatedly, embraced the comparison, and attempted to use it to springboard discussion on what might be going on.

It may indeed be that I'm a dishonest hack in some areas. But cross country comparisons on health care spending isn't one of them. And I'm frankly feeling unfairly attacked on it.

Proposition 13 was about giving businesses a break on property tax, and that's been its major effect.

Mike, do you have a source for that? Either some documentation, or a statement that you personally were present (preferably in California) at the time, and had some reason to see that as a driver? (Because I don't remember it coming up during the campaign. And those opposed were trying everything they could think of to fight it -- and would surely have shown up.) Or are you just assuming that every time something bad happens it must have been businesses driving it?

"The article does discuss the drop in funds available due to Prop 13, and how the state stepped into that gap- the graph shows this process occurring."

No, I'm afraid you're flatly wrong, but I'm glad it doesn't seem that you were trying to be deceptive.

The graph most certainly does not show a drop in available property taxes. It shows *the state legislature* shifting the payments for schools from a local level to a state level.

Excuse me, can you read? I don't mean are you illiterate, I mean can you be bothered to read? The "article" discusses the drop in funds available due to Prop13. In the sentence directly before the one you quoted, it reads Proposition 13 reduced property tax revenues, which are distributed to schools and local governments, by 53 percent. Using that piece of information- from the "article", not the "graph", plus the information in the "graph", we can see that property tax funding of local schools declined as a percentage (almost certainly absolutely as well, since school funding was unlikely to have doubled in the year after Prop 13 passed), and was replaced with state funding. This ratio hasn't much changed since then, so it is not the case that Prop 13 caused a small, temporary increased draw on other funding sources- other funding sources have continued to this day to bear more of the burden of local schooling (as a percentage, not an absolute number, lest you misread me once more) than prior to Prop 13. And it is also not the case that California schools are overfunded compared to the rest of the US- they are underfunded, but nevertheless constitute a larger draw on the state treasury than in most states.

Now, it's possible that the entirety of the drop in funding from property taxes to local schools on the first part of the graph is not caused by the known reduction in property tax receipts- we don't have data here about the distribution of property tax receipts among the various recipient categories, and the article suggests that there were some changes made. In fact, this can be inferred from a drop in receipts of 50% and (eyeballing), a drop in property tax income for schools from around 50% to around 20% (ie more than half).

This graph very likely would have been very similar even if Prop 13 had never happened

We both know that's not true, right? That's what passes for an argument around here I believe. Or shall I assume that you meant that this was caused by Martians and then poke fun at you for your mistake? Each time you reply, I shall rebut with "oh, it's still not Martians you silly person."
What you've got is that money was moved around, but you've got no data about how much was reallocated- yet you're comfortable assuming that this explains all or most of the graph. I have no idea how your rational brain takes a pass at needing support for that rather fantastic assumption.

No, it shows that the state took over much of the funding and had property tax revenue go to city and county municipalities INSTEAD of schools. It doesn't show a sudden drop in availability of property taxes.

Again, can you read? The sentence directly before the one you quoted contradicts this. Proposition 13 reduced property tax revenues, which are distributed to schools and local governments, by 53 percent.
There was a large drop in property tax receipts. The state responded to that, as well as other issues, in a way that placed much of the burden of funding schools at the state, rather than local, level. As the article points out, this is unusual in the US. And, since that time, California has slipped badly in spending per-pupil and also run into serious fiscal problems. This is certainly not the only cause of California's fiscal problems, but it certainly appears to be one of the causes. Personally, I think the supermajority for tax increases plus the ideological rigidity of the minority GOP is the prime issue, but this certainly seems to be a contributor.

Now you'd like to compare California's spending on education to straight population growth, or GDP- but why measure indirectly when we can directly compare it to spending per student in other states? States which have, on the average, spent more per student than California without suffering budgetary meltdown?

You are deeply misremembering my position on that. My schtick for years on cross country health comparisons has been that they suggest that there is something weird going on in America and that we should darn well figure out what it is before assuming that we can just adopt someone else's system.

Am I deeply misremebering earlier in the thread when you glibly suggested that cross-country comparisons might be preferable to comparisons between states, and observed that rather than indicating some different issues here than abroad, higher per-student funding here merely meant that California was doing a fine job educating its students?
A &%%&ing moron could see the inconsistency here: in one case, the difference between the US and other countries demands an understanding of the underlying differences. In the other case, the underlying differences are assumed to not exist, and the cost differentials are assumed to be representative of differences in quality of education.

I not only fail to resist the cross country comparison of spending in health care, I raised it repeatedly, embraced the comparison, and attempted to use it to springboard discussion on what might be going on.

You cannot possibly think that this is working- you certainly didn't 'embrace' cross country comparisons in same manner as you tried to do on this thread.
Faced with a huge spending differences per-student/patient you:
1)claim that this proves something is profoundly different with the underlying terrain, and that merely replicating the foreign system cannot hope to produce similar results (healthcare)
2)claim that the two systems are so similar (altho no evidence to that end was presented, presumably "we all know" that they are) that they show that the domestic one must be well-funded (education).

If I used your 'logic' from the school systems and applied it to health care, Id conclude that the US has by far the best healthcare system in the world- since we spend more. Or if I apply your logic from the healthcare debate, Id conclude that we cannot say (as you have done) that California is actually doing a good job of educating its students, as we cannot know what other factors unique to the US might be confounding such a comparison. "There could be many such factors" I might say "but in the end we can only know that replicating a Dutch education system here cannot produce the savings it produces in the Netherlands."

Of course, both have elements of truth. It's just that you swing from one extreme to the other, depending on what you need to prove. That isn't someone searching for answers, it's someone searching for validation.

It may indeed be that I'm a dishonest hack in some areas. But cross country comparisons on health care spending isn't one of them. And I'm frankly feeling unfairly attacked on it.

The cross-country comparison thing isn't a major point in and of itself, but it's symptomatic of why this isn't going anywhere- your standards of evidence and logic are so profoundly skewed towards the evidence/rationales that support the position you want to hold that discussing anything with you is somewhere between barely worth it and absolutely pointless.

When malingering socialist parasites want money, they get it:

"California's state university system may be struggling, but one campus wanted Sarah Palin for a speaking engagement. She demanded $75,000 plus expenses, a hotel suite, first class airfare or a private Lear jet, pre-screened questions, and "bendable straws." She got it, and spoke for about a half-hour."

Courtesy of Steve Benen.

California's state university system may be struggling, but one campus wanted Sarah Palin for a speaking engagement.

Some *aspects* of Universities' budgets (in CA and elsewhere) are tight, but other parts aren't - ever. Which parts aren't? The budgets for top administrator salaries and their pet projects, like the idea of getting Palin, sports stuff, satellite campuses, etc. Are top university administrators unionized?

"There was a large drop in property tax receipts."

No there wasn't. I already linked to the underlying 'source' of that claim. It was from an anti Prop-13 campaign tract from *before* the election. There was a large drop in the projected property tax receipts, because they projected based on the ridiculously large property increase. There was not a large drop from year on year tax receipts. And after the first year it was well above inflation+population growth for *every single year* until two years ago.

"Using that piece of information- from the "article", not the "graph", plus the information in the "graph", we can see that property tax funding of local schools declined as a percentage (almost certainly absolutely as well, since school funding was unlikely to have doubled in the year after Prop 13 passed), and was replaced with state funding. "

No. That isn't what happened. Property taxes were *diverted* from school funding to local government non-school funding as the state took over largely in response to the Serrano v. Priest cases.

You claiming that I'm illiterate doesn't make you right. You source isn't particularly clear, and since you haven't done the research to realize how it isn't clear you are misreading it. "Percentage of Funding" doesn't tell you that property funding vanished when we in fact know that the California legislature took over the funding of the schools. Percentages of funding are a ratio. When the state legislature took over the majority of the funding to make compliance with Serrano v. Priest easier to administer there were indeed fears that property taxes would in the future be unable to keep up with school needs. These fears ended up being unfounded, as seen by the increasing property tax receipts (well above inflation and population growth as I've linked). But those unfounded fears plus the Serrano case spurred the legislature to take over most of the funding and direct property tax funding to go to non-school local funding (again to make compliance with the Serrano case easier).

The graph you cite shows that legislative shift.

It does not show that the funds had vanished. Those funds were directed to other local projects. It showed that for the limited look at *only school funding*, property taxes ceased to be the big factor and state funding took over.

You use 'replaced' to suggest that the property taxes were not present.

That is false. I understand why you would think that if you did not realize that the actual property taxes ended up going to other local projects. But not knowing that doesn't make me illiterate. I just happen to know more about the underlying situation so I can notice how you misread the graph more easily.

There was not a year on year drop of tax receipts from property taxes of 50% or more as you seem to think that graph shows. There was a drop of property tax receipts *used for schools* because the state took over the school funding largely in response to Serrano, and the property taxes were used for other local projects.

I'm sorry, you're just wrong. A ratio graph showing only one area of spending when streams of money are diverted to other areas of spending just can't be read the way you reading it.

And your cross country thing is too wild for me to follow at this point. My point on health care was that we literally spend enough in private and separately enough in public spending for EACH to cover 100% of the population under other systems. Yet neither the public nor the private systems cover anywhere near it. The magnitude is astonishing. In the state to state to country comparisons I'm pointing out that ordinal rankings are a stupid way to try to measure it when most of the spending is close to each other. The difference in spending among first world countries is just not very big. Yet an ordinal ranking would make it look like California is freaking amazingly good compared to almost every first world country (California ranks ahead of Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Netherlands, Sweden, and the UK). And then in a comparison to states and ordinal ranking makes it look amazingly bad. Because someone has to be 30th and 40th and whatever. Using ordinal rankings in that kind of case doesn't make sense. All of the first world countries and most of the US states spend pretty much about what California does. That is nothing like health care, where the US pretty much spends twice as much and doesn't even cover all the population.

In one case we have small differences, magnified by ordinal sorting. In the other we have an enormous difference, which pretty much doesn't get well investigated.

You can continue to think I'm a hack in treating those cases the way I do (though interestingly I notice that even though my actual views on cross-country comparison are the polar opposite of what you represented them to be, you haven't changed your view on what it means about my character), but I think I'm pretty clearly consistent in the treatment.

You claiming that I'm illiterate doesn't make you right.

My claiming that your were illiterate has to do with how you weren't even reading my argument carefully enough to respond to it; of course, that doesn't make my underlying argument correct, but it does mean we get to spill a whole crapload of electrons before you even get to the point of discussing it.
Because I never said I was right- that article may be mistaken. But you didn't, and don't, understand what I am saying- since you are still restating my position incorrectly.

You source isn't particularly clear, and since you haven't done the research to realize how it isn't clear you are misreading it. "Percentage of Funding" doesn't tell you that property funding vanished when we in fact know that the California legislature took over the funding of the schools. Percentages of funding are a ratio.

Hey, my source might be wrong, sure. And that leads you to your asinine, pedantic 'percentages are ratios'? I can't tell if your just profoundly obtuse or intentionally insulting. And this coming from a guy who called me out for not understanding the Baumol effect and then- apperently- when he realized that he was wrong just pretended like it didn't happen. Does it make sense to you that I have to explain that the Baumol effect isn't driven by population growth, but you have to explain to me what a percentage is?

That is false. I understand why you would think that if you did not realize that the actual property taxes ended up going to other local projects. But not knowing that doesn't make me illiterate. I just happen to know more about the underlying situation so I can notice how you misread the graph more easily.

For the last time, I didn't misread the graph. Ive explained this over and over. It's not so complicated that it's beyond you. I can't say it any more simply than I already have.
You think that the fact cited in the article is incorrect. But that doesn't excuse your continual, intentional misrepresentation. I did not, at any time, use the graph itself to suggest a drop in overall property tax income. When I first cited the graph, and every time subsequently, I have explained that it shows the relative contribution of local property taxes and state spending (and federal iirc but not going to bother to look at it again now).

If you cannot understand this, then just let it fucking drop. I really can't be bothered to say it once more. But if you must continue, then by all means quote me saying that the graph shows absolute levels of funding- or, as I said, STFU.

There was not a year on year drop of tax receipts from property taxes of 50% or more as you seem to think that graph shows.

I used all sorts of bolding etc to explain that I did not rely on the graph for the initial drop in overall property tax receipts, I used the quote from the article- which I reproduced twice for you.
Again, perhaps the source is incorrect, but your persistent misunderstanding on this point makes this entire conversation the height of pointlessness.

In the state to state to country comparisons I'm pointing out that ordinal rankings are a stupid way to try to measure it when most of the spending is close to each other.

That is, I believe, an entirely new point. What you did before was compare California's spending per student to other countries, and then suggest that the hgiher rate of spending in California suggested that they weren't skimping on infrastructure.
This is naturally also par for the course- when confronted with a tricky counterargument, you pretend to have an entirely different point than the one you were originally making. That the new point doesn't even really make sense in the original context is irrelevant (after all, if you were only concerned about ranking versus raw funding, why not just compare California's per student funding numbers to other states, rather than dragging in the obvious complexity of comparing it to education in Denmark?)

Because someone has to be 30th and 40th and whatever.

Not everyone has to slip from above-average to 47th. not everyone has to have the 9th-highest per-capita income and the 47th-highest per-student spending.

All of the first world countries and most of the US states spend pretty much about what California does. That is nothing like health care, where the US pretty much spends twice as much and doesn't even cover all the population.

Just because the US spends similar amounts doesn't mean that the underlying systems have similar quality or deal with similar issues. Just because the numbers ended up relatively close in one case but further apart in another is absolutely no basis for considering the first case to be not easily compared and the second easily compared across national borders.
You've leapt to that amazing assumption because it bolsters your position- other than that, the two positions are in complete opposition to one another. It's not even that you use one assumption but shade it a little bit more bc of the disparity in costs for healthcare- you've gone from "America is exceptional and the single-payer systems that work elsewhere will not work here" to "the education system of Germany probably faces exactly the same issues, costs, etc that the education system of California faces." And that, intellectually, is nonsense.

I believe that you have singlehandedly killed more threads than all other commenters combined at ObWi with your endless pedantry, debating of minutiae, and generally toxic attitude. I dont even know why Im bothering to write this, since you apparently can't be bothered to do more than skim comments for some point of attack.

"When I first cited the graph, and every time subsequently, I have explained that it shows the relative contribution of local property taxes and state spending "

And you still haven't explained why you thought it helped, hurt, changed or otherwise impacted the argument if you didn't believe it showed a drop in property tax availability rather than what it actually shows which is merely a reshuffling of funds. I presumed you were raising it for a reason, not at random. I also presumed that you were raising it in good faith, not to deceive. But to make sure people were not confused by the misleading graph, I pointed out that it definitely didn't show a drop in property tax receipts.

"That is, I believe, an entirely new point." That is why I raised the point of it being an ordinal ranking. I clearly wasn't explicit enough about the criticism of ordinal rankings to get the point across, but the general statistical criticism of ordinal rankings is that they don't reveal much information when the units being ranked are close together, or when some portions of the ordinal ranking are close while a very few are outliers. It probably would have been better to note that ordinal rankings aren't very useful when as in this case CA doesn't depart significantly from the national average (by about 10% of the national average and well above the OCED average would have been sufficient to make the point I suppose; and perhaps point out how an ordinal ranking would put Germany near the bottom with Mexico and Turkey even though it spends about 6,900 compared to their 1,000 and 2,000).

"It's not even that you use one assumption but shade it a little bit more bc of the disparity in costs for healthcare- you've gone from "America is exceptional and the single-payer systems that work elsewhere will not work here" to "the education system of Germany probably faces exactly the same issues, costs, etc that the education system of California faces."

It makes sense to me to think that there is something really wrong with how the US deals with health care because it spends literally 100% more then any comparable country and it still doesn't have full coverage. It in fact spends enough just on the government and again enough just on the private side, to get universal coverage elsewhere. A disparity that big suggests huge differences. Here too ordinal ranking who conceal more than it reveals, as the US would be number 1 in spending, and whichever country were number 2 would be more analytically similar with 3-15 than with 1.

In the school case, the US as a whole spends a little more than Europe, and individual states are right around Europe. This suggests a that they are all very close and that an ordinal ranking of difference isn't very helpful in discussing it because they are all close.

The rest is a bit much, especially as you neatly sidestep the fact that you apparently are ok with representing my prior position on international comparisons one way as being damning proof of my intellectual dishonesty.

Then when presented with evidence that you had misremembered my position, and it was the polar opposite from what you had represented, you somehow without missing a beat, continue to act as if my actual position also is damning proof of my intellectual dishonesty.

Getting both A and not-A to prove the exact same thing about my character is a pretty good rhetorical trick, I'll grant you.

Because I never said I was right

Did you really just write this, as a defense of what you've done upthread? I think you owe Sebastian an apology, here, as well as an explicit capitulation.

Sebastian, do you have inflation adjusted numbers for property tax receipts? Because the whole motivation for Prop. 13 was inflation-fuelded increases in property values and assessment, and therefore property taxes. The fact that raw property tax revenues went up rather obscures the whole point.

"Because I never said I was right"

Did you really just write this, as a defense of what you've done upthread? I think you owe Sebastian an apology, here, as well as an explicit capitulation.

I'll explain, since you may not have read the entire thread: I cited a fact from an article and provided a link. I can't be certain that the fact was correct, since it was just an article and not something Id consider a definitive source.
Sebastian misunderstood what I was saying, and repeatedly accused me of ascribing that fact to a graph which does not support it.

So what I am saying is that I am not arguing that that fact was necessarily correct. But that it was not derived from the graph. At one point Seb accused me of thinking that him being wrong about where I got the information meant that I thought it was right. So I was disabusing him of that notion.

Perhaps you've never cited a fact from anything less than a definitive source. Good for you. I merely wanted to separate the debate that Seb insisted on having (ie whether I ascribed that fact to the graph or the article) from whether that fact was necessarily ironclad.

So no- if anyone owes anyone an apology, Seb ones me one for repeatedly accusing me of ascribing that fact to the graph, despite my clearly explaining it to him. Ive lost interest in actually debating the underlying fact- which may well be the point of the exercise, as far as I can tell.

So thanks for quoting me out of context and trying to use it to badger me. Because you must have read the entire line: Because I never said I was right- that article may be mistaken. But you didn't, and don't, understand what I am saying- since you are still restating my position incorrectly.

It's pretty clear from that where Im disagreeing and why Im deferring an argument about the underlying facts.

And you still haven't explained why you thought it helped, hurt, changed or otherwise impacted the argument if you didn't believe it showed a drop in property tax availability rather than what it actually shows which is merely a reshuffling of funds.

You said that earlier, and I explained it this way:
Since we're discussing how California's initiative process has led to strains on the state budget, this shows the state budget taking on a much larger burden for education because of Prop 13, and how that burden was not subsequently picked up by growth in property taxes but remained at the state level, absorbed by other funding sources (including borrowing).
Maybe you don't agree with that. But you keep saying that I haven't explain it at all, and I have. And that's the sort of garbage that prevents a debate from going forward.

"That is, I believe, an entirely new point." That is why I raised the point of it being an ordinal ranking. I clearly wasn't explicit enough about the criticism of ordinal rankings to get the point across

Here's the thing- not only did you not make it explicit, you made an entirely different argument. And, finding that argument inconvenient, you changed to this new (and at least, better) argument. Ordinals maybe aren't as useful as other comparisons.
If you'd said that then, I would've been fine with it. But what you did, then, was to use cross-country comparisons without a sliver of an objection, when you've objected strenuously during the healthcare debate that we could make apples-to-apples comparisons between countries.
And what bothered me isn't the one or the other- it's the intellectual flexibility to use whatever argument suits your purposes. And I don't see the point in having a discussion then- if you're going to take whatever position suits your purposes at the moment (like a good attourney taking the position that best suits their client's interests), then there's no way that the discussion can avoid getting bogged down in point after point. Which, Ive noticed, is exactly what happens when I try to talk with you- the main point gets lost in tinier and tinier details until the whole thing just peters out. I don't even think Prop 13 is nearly as important to Cali's problems as the supermajority to raise taxes, but we never got to that. Hell, we never even got a substantive discussion of Prop 13.

It makes sense to me to think that there is something really wrong with how the US deals with health care because it spends literally 100% more then any comparable country and it still doesn't have full coverage. .... In the school case, the US as a whole spends a little more than Europe, and individual states are right around Europe.

But there is still the unfounded assumption- yes, the difference in healthcare costs suggest that the US has differences with other countries. But implementing single-payer might have addressed those very issues. Or not.
But when there are similarities in cost, there is no reason to think that the US system provides similar education bang-for-the-buck. So there's no reason to reach the conclusion, as you did, that the US spending X on education per pupil means that it's providing a comperable education to another country spending X on education.

Then when presented with evidence that you had misremembered my position, and it was the polar opposite from what you had represented, you somehow without missing a beat, continue to act as if my actual position also is damning proof of my intellectual dishonesty.

Now you're just making stuff up. Probably makes you feel good, doesn't really accomplish much else. I said when comparing healthcare systems, you insisted that cross-country comparisons were basically invalid, that the US had special circumstances that couldn't be accounted for in such comparisons. And I stand by that. I didn't miss a beat because the song didn't change.

WJ, "Sebastian, do you have inflation adjusted numbers for property tax receipts?"

Yes, all of the numbers I quoted were adjusted for both inflation and population growth. Which is exactly why it is so damning to the argument that the property tax side of Prop 13 has significantly hurt the tax base. +84% AFTER inflation and AFTER adjusting for population.

Carleton "Ordinals maybe aren't as useful as other comparisons.
If you'd said that then, I would've been fine with it. But what you did, then, was to use cross-country comparisons without a sliver of an objection, when you've objected strenuously during the healthcare debate that we could make apples-to-apples comparisons between countries."

If you read my comment, you can see that I object to ordinals and then talk about the comparisons. I thought I was invoking the pretty well understood statistical objection to ordinals, but I clearly should have spelled it out, as I know that statistics isn't everyone's thing.

"And what bothered me isn't the one or the other- it's the intellectual flexibility to use whatever argument suits your purposes. And I don't see the point in having a discussion then- if you're going to take whatever position suits your purposes at the moment"

This is rich considering how you managed to attack my character from both sides of the international comparison issue.

Your original claim:

"I recall you in debates on health care costs *fervently* denying the utility of a cross-country comparison, since so many other variables can't be accounted for."

and

"Really, just try one: when comparing healthcare systems, you insisted that cross-country comparisons were basically invalid, that the US had special circumstances that couldn't be accounted for in such comparisons. And that may have some truth to it, although an intellectually honest approach would ask what those factors were rather than using the position as an blanket obstacle to using other countries' numbers. But now, you would much rather make cross-country comparisons without so much as a parenthetical aside that they might not be perfectly comparable "

After I strongly demonstrated that your recollection was diametrically opposed to my actual position in this comment, and I showed that in fact I had done *exactly* what you suggested the intellectually honest approach would be, you stepped directly into:

"A &%%&ing moron could see the inconsistency here: in one case, the difference between the US and other countries demands an understanding of the underlying differences. In the other case, the underlying differences are assumed to not exist, and the cost differentials are assumed to be representative of differences in quality of education."

It is AMAZING how your argument can magically remain the same despite 100% different understandings of my views of international comparisons in the health care context.

You say you stand by your original statement? How? You claimed that I *fervently* denied the utility of a cross-country comparison, since so many other variables can't be accounted for. Yet I linked those discussions and they show that not only am I not denying them. I am the one raising them, and asking people to consider it. I was the one trying to look at what those factors were rather than using the position as a blanket obstacle to using other countries' numbers

How can you stand by that original statement? Are you a sociopath? I gave direct evidence that your statement was directly incorrect and you STILL want to use your original statement while simultaneously attacking my intellectual honesty in this discussion?

WTF?


I'm hesitant to insinuate myself into this epic battle. However this:

there's no way that the discussion can avoid getting bogged down in point after point. Which, Ive noticed, is exactly what happens when I try to talk with you- the main point gets lost in tinier and tinier details until the whole thing just peters out.

....has the ring of truth. It highlights the different approaches people here take to arguing. One side - usually, though not always, the Right - sees the main point of the exercise as 'winning the debate' per se. Underlying premises are continually challenged, to the point of derailing the entire discussion - we can't agree on whether the sky is blue or the grass is green. Sweeping statements are indeed argued in a minutely lawyerly way, wherein the goal doesn't seems to be to get at the truth, but to 'win'. I have been through this so many times here and on other blogs, that I pretty much give up. I think getting the other side to 'give up' in the face of mountains of verbiage is the desired goal.

The other approach is to try to find out what the truth is - since we aren't, fundamentally, adversaries, but citizens of the same country, we all want to know what's true and what isn't.

The comparison to a court of law is apt, and one I've made it myself more than once. Many arguments - not always from the Right, but often - do very much sound a priori, like the position on the issue came before the argument, which makes sense if you are representing a client in court, but not so much if you're arguing on a blog.

If I try to sum up Seb's argument here, I find it difficult: there has been no such swindle as the professor describes; in fact, taxes and spending have gone up drastically in CA, but the money has been spent poorly; furthermore, aside from the poor use of all that money, the reason there's a budget problem is that the Legislature can't (2/3rds rule) raise taxes even more [?].

I know that doesn't do it justice. But - what is it?! I've read zillions of words now, and I still can't formulate a succinct version of Seb's argument, other than what is, by now, an ideological cliche: 'taxes and spending are too high'. That cliche is the 'client', to be defended at all costs.

A cliche is not false because it is a cliche. But it is suspect when it's always the answer to like questions.

If Seb's argument is that taxes (including property taxes) and spending have gone up tremendously in CA in an absolute sense, as compared to previous decades, and that the mountains of extra money have simply been wasted or mis-allocated, then I'd like to see it supported clearly and succinctly. Unless the current budget problems don't really exist, that must be the argument. Where did the money go? Pensions? Waste? Tell us, if you aren't sick of the whole thing...

That the sky appears blue is a trick of the light with the help of each person's cones and rods, and how can anyone tell that the other guy's cones and rods version of blue is identical to theirs.

Well, grass is green, depending on the season, and then there is the cones and rods problem.

There is absolute truth out there, but the internets are a spacecraft heading away from it and loaded with people looking through the wrong end of the viewfinder.

Not to mention the fact that both ends of the viewfinder are both absolute and probably wrong.

The internet and various other media have destroyed our civic life, not enhanced or improved it.

Youda thunk the fact that the Earth revolves around the Sun would have GAINED adherents because of the innertoupees, but the opposite seems to be true.

But I'm not sure.

Let me look it up on the Internet.

The Internet is not so much a dialectic as an diuretic.


Blue blue is the sun.
Brown brown is the sky.
Green green are her eyes.
A million miles a million miles.

After I strongly demonstrated that your recollection was diametrically opposed to my actual position in this comment

Nope. Keeping saying it though. Use all-caps maybe, some people find that convincing.
Maybe my original position was hyperbolic, but you did effectively rule out cross-country comparisons, or more specifically the idea that we could implement other countries' plans and see similar savings to what they experience. You speculate about why that might be the case, but then write it off- it's unknowable, we don't have data.
And the end result is: you sought to invalidate arguments for eg single-payer based on the observed savings in other countries. Something else is going on here, you said, and whatever it is, those comparisons are not useful.
The idea that single payer might have *addressed* those problems was invisible to you for some reason.

I am the one raising them, and asking people to consider it. I was the one trying to look at what those factors were rather than using the position as a blanket obstacle to using other countries' numbers.

You are denying their utility. You are denying that single-payer can show the savings here that it shows elsewhere. And you're doing it based on the viewpoint that there's something unique about America: we can speculate about it, but all we can really know- according to you- is that other countries' successes can't be duplicated here.

Whereas with your attempt to compare US spending per student to other countries- well sh1t, you didn't even correct for per capita GDP. And a Sebastian, on the other side of that argument, tears it to shreds, starting with that point and moving to other obvious points (eg status of teachers and the relative salaries, that healthcare for staff in America is included in the education budget but would be paid for elsewhere in eg the UK, etc).

Unless the current budget problems don't really exist, that must be the argument. Where did the money go? Pensions? Waste? Tell us, if you aren't sick of the whole thing...

Again, I think this is the entire point- get us so bogged down in every detail that we can't get anywhere. The conversation dies, and Seb goes to bed secure in the knowledge that the libruls could not defeat his argument. And maybe he's right- but it would certainly be more fun if he had the courage to actually test his argument rather than preventing anyone from ever getting to that point.
But you can't have a real debate unless eveveryone wants to play. Some people break the debate by refusing to stay on a single topic, like Jay Jerome. Others break it by disputing every single possible point
There's a nice bit earlier in this thread where Eric asks Seb over and over again if property tax receipts would've been higher if Prop 13 hadn't passed. Seb, realizing a talking point for the "other side" is about to get registered, initially just refuses to answer- over and over. Rather than saying yes and making his case, he just stalls for a few comments.
Or, there's Seb's weird reliance on 'the consensus on this site' about income stagnation; he doesn't care one whit if this piece of information he's using to bolster his argument is actually true- what matters is that several libruls around here have said that before, so it can't be easily challenged. Can one imagine Seb accepting a fact that harmed his argument as true just because it was the consensus on this site? Of course not. Only when convenient does this become his standard of proof.

If Seb's argument is that taxes (including property taxes) and spending have gone up tremendously in CA in an absolute sense, as compared to previous decades, and that the mountains of extra money have simply been wasted or mis-allocated, then I'd like to see it supported clearly and succinctly.

Put that way, there's no way to actually settle the matter: there's a budget shortfall, and that shortfall can either be met by raising taxes or cutting spending. Neither can be proven as the 'right' answer.
The only answer I can think of is to compare Cali's situation to other states- is Cali spending more than its citizens' incomes can support, or are their taxes lower than average.
Cali is 9th in per capita income. They're 12th in per capita state spending (2007). They're 47th in per student spending. And they've got a budget crisis far worse than any other state afaict. Their spending is in line with, or even below (or considerably below) their income level.
Contrawise, Seb is trumpeting an iirc 87% rise in per capita, inflation adjusted property taxes since 1980- a period where US GDP growth has about tripled the growth in those receipts. So property taxes now bring in about a third of what they did as a percentage of GDP. That, to me, is not particularly persuasive in arguing that Prop 13 has not cost the state a considerable amount of money or that its anemic growth should be considered generous because it manages to beat inflation.

Seb wants to use raw, post-inflation numbers. I want to use GDP. I think GDP is much more persuasive, because it tracks the underlying increase in productive capacity and simultaneous changes in expected standards for government-provided goods and services: in 1920, a one-room schoolhouse served the public's need for basic education, and many (most? virtually all?) cities vented their municipal waste directly into oceans or waterways. Our standards in those areas have radically changed, and to have the expectation that waste management or education ought to be provided at the same cost as it was in 1920 (adjusted for inflation) is, IMO, foolish. This isn't as obvious over a single decade, or just a year, but big changes are composed of small changes, and therefore using merely inflation-adjusted number for government services is a mistake.

Catsy, your comment alone was worth the time and trouble to scroll through. Well said.

Those prisons everyone is talking about isn't for criminals but for 'enemies of the state'. The Satanist driven world government is preparing to put non-conformists to the corporate-fascist ideology (Feudalism as one poster said) into those prisons. The 'dumbing down' of America has been going on for years now along with the psycho-war against socialist progression.
The goal is to individualize society (a from of divide and conquer) in order to weaken it so that the public is fighting each other over trivial matters rather then the powers that be.

The current government, which consists of both GOP and Dem members, desires to enslave everyone for short term power/goals. It was prophesized almost 2 milennia ago and yet people still can't figure out the problem. The Satanist government that has been given authority to do this is the problem.

The only way to really fight it is to stand up for truth, justice, and righteousness. Those things have been dismissed as 'fairy tales' by the same thugs that force feed entertainment and propaganda down the nation's throat.

Preach it, Ace! You can't be alert enough about the Satanic, er, Satanist, government.

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