Thursday - July 12, 2007

Category Image California Political Tactics

California is at it again. They've mastered the art of asking for the outrageous in order to get the merely intolerable.

That is, politicians in California routinely propose laws that are so far beyond the pale that there is almost no chance that they could ever be enacted.

Everyone knows the story about how if you throw a frog into a pot of boiling water, it will jump out, but if you put the frog in a pot of cool water and slowly heat it up, the frog remains content until it is boiled. Whatever the truth of the science of that statement, it's a popular analogy for how the political class takes away our freedoms slowly, one by one, until we are enslaved.

Californian politicians don't feel a need to take such slow measures. Their theory is to throw the frog into boiling water, only to have it jump into a frying pan. They still get to eat the frog legs, and they don't have to wait a long time. Meanwhile the frog is happy to escape the boiling water.

Here's how it works:

Law makers want some sort of severe change in the state. In this case, they want to encourage pet owners to be more responsible about how their animals breed. So far so good. Feral animals are often an expensive public health problem.

Their method of encouraging this end is to dictate that all pets throughout the state must be sterilized. This is absurd and would never get passed, and the legislators know this. However, threatening this over-the-top plan allows them to make a few concessions, in this case only sterilizing animals that have a complaint lodged against them, and people are so relieved that they stop protesting.

I saw it happen with CAFE standards when I lived there many years ago. The new car emissions requirements were absurd and would require pretty much every car more than ten years old get sent to the scrap heap. Since I lived in Sacramento and worked the swing shift at the time, I even stopped by to watch the protests on that law.

But what eventually happened is that the politicians finally backed off and after the protesters left feeling victorious, they introduced a version that was only marginally better that eventually was enacted. It's really hard to get the protesters mobilized again once they've gone home.

If the California legislature proposed from the beginning that your pet would be sterilized at your expense if a neighbor called to complain that it barked one time, people would be outraged. After proposing that all pets everywhere be sterilized, people feel like they're getting a good deal when they back down to this also outrageous proposal.

The Golden State politicians are good at this and it will likely work. Time will tell. Californians are taught from young ages in government schools to organize and protest the government, not for principles, but for the sake of having an effect. The tactic of suggesting something so horrible that no one can support it allows their school indoctrination to take over and abet the creation of an almost as bad law.

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