It’s more than a threat, Tom…

I was far from surprised when I read a recent news account of a speech by state Sen. Tom McClintock headlined “Incompetency threatens state, says McClintock”


Like a lot of other short-sighted politicians who periodically circle around the state Capitol on their appointed rounds, Sen. McClintock has stumbled upon something that the rest of us have known for years.

Has state government become incompetent?

Sad as it may seem, that’s pretty obvious.

One need only glance at the state of the economy, the state of our highways and the state of California in general to realize that incompetence has been running amok throughout state government for years.

Very perceptive, Sen. McClintock…

Our esteemed senator is quick to blame everyone from labor unions to illegal immigrants for the current epidemic of incompetence in California.

What politicians like McClintock seem to keep overlooking, however, is the increasingly deplorable state of California’s public education system, from kindergarten right up to the University of California.

For years we’ve heard politicians, including governors Pete “Trust Me” Wilson and Gray “I Am Not a Weasel” Davis promise to devote their time and budgets to improving education in California.

And year after year, we’ve seen those same politicians drop the ball immediately after being elected.

Suddenly funds that were “earmarked for education” wind up elsewhere and tuitions go through the roof even as those same politicians continue to shout their devotion to education from the rooftops.

There was a time in California when just about anybody with a little ambition and a couple of bucks could get into a community college and start building a career or preparing for a university degree.

No longer. Community college costs have been soaring for decades and less-than-prosperous students who were once welcomed with open arms are now greeted by closed doors.

For many would-be students on a limited budget, community colleges represented a second chance to find a new career or better their education. Today, they all too frequently represent a costly and unattainable goal.

California state universities?

Be independently wealthy, get a scholarship or move to North Dakota, amigos. Your choices are considerably limited – and expensive – here in the Golden State.

And we’re only talking California colleges and universities here. Combine their skyrocketing costs with the fact that many of our elementary and high schools are overcrowded and understaffed and I think you’ll see that a lot of the incompetence in government that we’re complaining about is coming straight from our own dilapidated educational system.

Maybe someday, if California is really, really lucky, a politician will come along and actually mean it when he says education is his highest priority.Until then, enjoy our state’s unbridled, but somehow endearing, incompetence…

Originally published November 7, 2004