The latest news come to us from the Governor's office. Schwarzenegger's hope that the initiatives would be approved did not materialize; the problem got bigger. And so, a series of proposed cuts came into being. As reported on the Chron, some of the cuts include:
Distressed as I am about the prospect of irrational cuts of all general fund spending to my home institution, which produces tomorrow's nation's foremost judges, policymakers, public interest lawyers, and business entrepreneurs (and thus extinguishing hope that we can invest enough in their education to produce people capable of solving the problems generated by today's policymaking!) I think there's a bigger lesson to be learned here. My concern is that the bottom line regarding prison releases will generate a public outcry that will gear discussion in a nonproductive way.
You see, everything is connected, just like in Edward Lorenz's much-quoted (and misquoted) chaos theory maxim, according to which the flap of a butterfly's wings in Brazil sets off a tornado in Texas. I'm sure there are many voters and Chron readers who are being exposed, perhaps for the very first time of their lives, to the realities of the imprisonment project in California and how it directly affects their lives, their taxes, and their children's education. For many years, since the passage of Prop 13, Californians have mistakenly thought that keeping taxes low and guaranteeing money for education had nothing to do with the invisible world of prisons. If you think about it, that is a bit like children who close their eyes, wishfully believing that what is out there does not exist if you cannot see it. So, many Californians may be finding out that many other Californians, who had been appearing and disappearing in their world, were held in massive, expensive institutions, and moreover - financing this institutions, in a world of scarce resources, is something to be considered, not ignored.
Prisons in California are not butterflies in Brazil, and their impact on our lives and wallets is much more direct than the connections in chaos theory. The sooner we understand that non-punitive cuts need to be made (albeit intelligently and after careful planning), the less we have to eat our future as a State, which relies on enough well-educated and skilled scientists, engineers, politicians, and, yes, lawyers.