Thoughts on getting a new boss

As a California state employee, I have a new boss today. Yea. What can I say about the outgoing one? His term was widely successful, depending on your perspective, of course. As a free-market fundamentalist, a follower of economist Milton Friedman of the University of Chicago School of Economics and a devotee of the objectivist philosophy promoted by author A. Rand in her novels “Atlas Shrugged” and “The Fountainhead,” Arnold set out to prove that government doesn’t work to lend credence to the argument that most of what government does should be in private hands. Only in this way, objectivists argue, can philosopher Adam Smith’s “invisible hand” of the market solve all our problems.

Putting aside the fundamental mis-reading of Smith that this represents and the hypocrisy of saying you want to get government out of people’s lives while promoting big government when it interferes in rights like who you sleep with, etc., and saying government is too big except when massive public expenditures go into private hands (think Iraq and Afghanistan), the real target in all this is the part of the public sector that goes to social welfare (the “undeserving” sector). Like Alexander Hamilton before them, their greatest fear is that the poor majority will vote the rich (the “deserving” sector) out of existence. Hamilton and these people don’t really believe in small d democracy—the idea that to have a functioning democracy there needs to be a democratic economy along with a democratic politics.

As he leaves office today Arnold’s record will be mixed. After all, he did help defeat the corporate rollback of California’s progressive environmental laws (Proposition 23 on November’s ballot, primarily sponsored by a few Texas-based oil corporations) that were going into effect this year. But his legacy will live on in the pain felt by the working people of California for some time to come.

During his term, for all the complaining from the right about Arnold’s failings—for all the claims that he was really a RINO (Republican in Name Only)—deep down he was a true Republican believer in the Norquist goal of shrinking government (remember, the part of government that actually serves the demos, or people) down to a size where you can “drown it in the bathtub.” Of course he didn’t accomplish this to the extent he wanted, but you have to give him credit for trying. And, credit is also due for setting up the continual fall we are about to experience. Much like the Bush Administration legacy nationally, his damage cannot be undone anytime soon.

Congratulations on a job well done Arnold. Someday those girly-man Republicans will honor you properly for all you accomplished.


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