The government of the State of California announced on Monday, October 11, 2010, that it was selling the following state assets to California First LLC, a company that seems to have been created specifically to bid on the buildings. The buildings sold include:
Attorney General Building, Sacramento
California Emergency Management Agency Building, Sacramento
Capitol Area East End Complex, Sacramento
Franchise Tax Board Complex, Sacramento
Department of Justice Building, Sacramento
San Francisco Civic Center, San Francisco
Elihu M. Harris Building, Oakland
Public Utilities Commission Building, San Francisco
Judge Joseph A. Rattigan Building, Santa Rosa
Ronald Reagan State Building, Los Angeles
Junipero Serra State Building, Los Angeles
The state government will lease back the buildings. In the long run this will cost the citizens of the state more money than keeping them would have. The money, $2.3 billion, will be used to cover about 10% of this year's budget "gap," the difference between revenues and tax receipts if the budget contained no new spending cuts or tax increases.
California's government holds a lot of assets in the name of the people. Why not sell most of them? The Chinese would probably be interested in our university system. We could sell our freeways to private investors, who could erect toll booths. Unfortunately some of our most prestigious parks, like Yosemite, are actually in federal hands.
Sell enough and we could lower taxes and raise pay for public employees (both public service union members and administrators). For two or three years. Don't want to sell them? Why not mortgage them?
Would a democracy really sell off the people's assets? The people would have to be really decadent. I do think some people who have made themselves dependent on the state would support any measure taken to keep the slop in their troughs. But most California citizens are not that stupid or lazy. The problem is the state is run by two minorities: public service employees unions, and large corporations. Each enlists allies during the elections. These two poles share only one common goal: getting other people, the ordinary non-corporate tax payers, to pay for their free lunches.
California needs a central political party, free from ties to the national Democratic and national Republican parties, to represent its ordinary citizens. Creating a political party, however, is no easy thing.
Meanwhile at the United States of America federal level, pressures to sell off assets are building. See Save America, Sell Alaska.
Along those same lines, maybe it is time to think of selling San Diego back to Mexico, unless the Chinese are willing to bid higher for it.