The Swarm

Mix it up with The Bee's editorial board.

February 17, 2009
What does Dave Cox fear most? A falling sky? Or a broken camel?
chicken_little_dvd.jpgState Sen. Dave Cox of Sacramento remains a possible vote for a budget breakthrough, but his floor statements of the last two days leave us mystified.

This afternoon, Cox got up and took issue with the floor speech of Sen. Ron Calderon, who used the fable of "Chicken Little" to describe the current budget situation. In Calderon's version of the fable, Republicans were not taking seriously the warnings that "the sky is falling" and were recklessly risking disaster.

Cox went on to describe an alternate version of the fable, one in which Chicken Little eventually learns it was only an acorn that hit him on the head, a problem fixed by a simple umbrella.

Thus Cox provided a lesson to his younger peers: There are many versions of ancient fables. All of them provide wisdom, but few offer clear answers to the problems of modern California.

After providing this lesson, Cox decided to offer us an old Arab proverb -- the straw that broke the camel's back.

We all know this one, right? Traders keep loading up a camel, constantly adding more and more weight, until a final piece of straw causes the animal to collapse. In Cox's version of events, the straw is $14 billion in taxes that are part of the bi-partisan budget proposal he, for now, opposes.

Yet there are many straws in this budget debate, one of them is cash flow. A lack of it is prompting the governor to send out layoff notices, and halt public works projects. These kinds of emergency measures will continue, one after another, until the back of the state is eventually broken.

Cox's solution? Early in his speech, he criticized the budget deal because it "does not fix the problem." Then he went on to say the state needed a "budget patch" -- an interim fix (pure spending reductions?) that would get us through a few months, and allow public works projects to continue.

I can see the argument for an interim fix, but how does that jibe with Cox' earlier statements that the budget deal "doesn't deal with the problem." You can't have it both ways, Sen. Cox. Either you deal with the full $40 billion 16-month problem, or you just go for a four-month solution.

I contacted Sen. Cox's office today to ask him about this, but wasn't unable to reach him. 



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About The Swarm

The Swarm is written by members of The Sacramento Bee's editorial board. They meet daily and are separate from the newsroom. Views included here are those of individual writers, and do not necessarily reflect those of a majority of the board or the positions expressed in The Bee's editorials.

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