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Big changes and innovation are needed to save California

When recent polls were conducted, it appears that former CEO of eBay Meg Whitman is taking the lead not only ahead of fellow Republican Steve Poizner but also Democrat Jerry Brown. Cynics attribute this to her deep pockets and connections in the business world. Even in an overwhelmingly democratic state, many voters are leaning towards Whitman because of her experience and success in the corporate world and like all successful business people, she possesses a streak of ruthlessness when necessary to get the job done. She will not be moved to 'save' jobs if confronted by the trail of tears when state workers march up to Sacramento with their children in tow demanding that their jobs be saved. This is precisely what California needs to dig itself out its 'funk' and financial hole.

What is happening in California is similar to what happened to General Motors before it went bankrupt. California got roped into giving generous salaries, benefits and pension packages by the powers of collective bargaining-regardless if the state could really afford it or if everyone merited this type of compensation. Collective bargaining is good for the labor force when they want to fight against corporate or employer abuse but it encourages mediocrity and discourages meritocracy. It allows the workers to get by with the bare minimum just to keep the salary and benefits and collect the gold plated pension package that is waiting for them when they retire. The terms of the contracts between labor unions and organizations are so stringent that every single thing is accounted for, how much overtime will be allowed, what is the maximum incentive the state will pay and even if someone goes above and beyond their duties. This system does not give people the incentives and motivation to strive for the best, to think outside of the box. Most entrepreneurs and business people will agree that for any institution, organization or company to succeed, innovation is key. Individual light-bulb moments where lightening strikes and a breakthrough is made thereby taking the company to the next level. To foster this type of creativity and innovation, the organization must relax the confines of structure between management and labor. When management calls upon its employees to put their creativity together and solve a problem or bottleneck in the organization (like the queues in the DMV), you don't want their first thought to be "how much overtime do I get?"

The proletarians want you to believe that everyone is equal, every teacher is equal, every state employee is equal, every city utility worker is equal. Newsflash: everyone is not equal (gasp!). Some teachers are better than others-much better than others, some state employees work more efficiently and get more done in an eight-hour work day than others, some people multi-task and problem solve better than others, some employees have better discipline and initiative therefore require less supervision than others and with collective bargaining, all of this goes unrewarded and unrecognized. The only things that are rewarded and recognized are things that are tangible and quantifiable, how many hours someone worked and how many years (until retirement) someone has worked. One often hears how a city or state employee was unceremoniously fired (not because state budget crisis) after 10 or 20 years of dutiful service to the city, the length of time someone has worked has nothing to do with his or her job performance but organized labor doesn't want people to see it that way, they want to portray themselves as victims of the big bad employer bullying the little people.

"Here's what big spending looks like. Since 2004, we've added 40,000 new state workers. Now we have more than 350,000 employees, enough to fill every Major League Baseball stadium in the state plus the Rose Bowl, with 40,000 waiting outside. California employs nearly 3,400 lawyers, twice as many as the biggest law firm in the country. And the state's computers? Many run on software nearly 30 years old. That's not a computer, that's a museum piece. If we ran things more efficiently, couldn't we do more with less? Creating A New California won't be easy, but I know we can do it. Let's end the outrageous spending, fix our public schools and streamline regulation to make it easier to create new jobs."

This is from Meg Whitman's most recent radio ad. She summed up everything that has been wrong with California with just a few short sentences. What's even more amazing is, California with its huge workforce, this supposed abundance of manpower and talent, customer service is worse than ever. Queues at state agencies are long and inefficient, people have to take at least half a day off work, sometimes one whole day, just to renew their driver's license or apply for a social security card for their child. To top it all off, if one does make it to the window before the day is over, one will be likely be confronted with an ill-mannered robot devoid of critical and analytical thinking who shoves more forms in front of you for you to complete or they tell you that they can't process your request because you are missing one piece of document. It makes one wonder just what 350,000 people are doing. Let's not get into the hold times on the phone lines, that is another monster all together-assuming you don't mysteriously get disconnected after being on hold for 30 minutes and someone finally answers the call.

Whoever the new governor will be, let's hope that he or she has the gumption to stand up to doing business as usual, not capitulating to the unreasonable demands of organized labor, ignore the howls of protest that will come, reward state workers based on innovation, creativity, efficiency, initiative,self-discipline and not by tenure or seniority.

Comments

  • mmainello 4 years ago

    I enjoyed your write up. California is such a beautiful state and needs strong leadership to return back to its glory days. Many productive, innovative people have left the state and I wonder if those remaining have the backbone to defeat those that have pulled the state into such a pathetic situation.

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