FEES, NOT TAXES….FEES, NOT TAXES….I’ve never been able to work up a lot of interest in California politics. I don’t know exactly why, but I suppose it’s mainly because Sacramento politics is such a cesspool that it makes Congress look like a bunch of do-gooding Model UN participants.

Democrats here control both legislative houses by massive margins, but California law requires the annual budget to be passed by a two-thirds vote, and since the Dems don’t quite have a two-thirds majority they can’t just tell the Republicans to fuck off, as they would dearly like to. The Republicans, for their part, in an effort to somehow make the Democrats actually look good, have flatly refused to consider any tax increases this year despite the fact that we have a $35 billion ? and growing every day, it seems ? budget shortfall.

What do do? Answer: blackmail. It turns out that although the Democrats can’t raise taxes on their own, they can raise fees without Republican help. So they are threatening to unilaterally raise the following potpourri of fees:

  • Diapers ? a quarter cent per nappy

  • Cocktails ? a nickel a drink

  • Cigarettes ? 87 cents per pack

  • Dry cleaning fluid ? $3 per gallon

  • Disposable cups ? 2 cents per cup

  • Jewelry ? new fees on mine operators

  • Munitions ? a dime per bullet

  • Gasoline ? a buck a barrel

  • Lightbulbs ? a nickel each

So what makes a fee a fee? It has to be something that goes toward mitigating things that harm the health of Californians.

Right. But diapers? Landfills, it turns out. Too many disposable diapers in landfills.

Anyway, this is what California politics is like. Are the Democrats serious? Or are they just trying to propose something so horrific that Republicans have no choice except to buckle under and get down to serious negotiating? Who knows. And thanks to term limits, not a single one of these yahoos has more than a few years experience with this stuff. Talk about a toxic combination.