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Look Out! Here Come the Big Plans! Run for Your Lives!

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Look Out! Here Come the Big Plans! Run for Your Lives!

Attention, Californians: head for higher ground. You are about to be on the receiving end of a tsunami of plans to fix your state's troubles.

The Think Long Committee, a committee of California politicos organized by homeless billionaire Nicolas Berggruen, is due out any day with its package of reforms.

California Forward, a group funded by some of the state's wealthiest foundations, also is going to put forward new proposals. Gov. Jerry Brown is teasing a big pension plan. And a host of other interest groups and activists across the spectrum are going to put things out.

Why now?

The timing of the plans' release actually tells you a great deal about what's wrong with California politics -- and why these plans are unlikely to improve things (and could make them worse).

The timing is driven not by any particular need but by the state's initiative process. All of these ideas are expected to identify one or two or three problems -- and then address them with specific initiatives.

This is not the cure in California. This is the disease.

We've added initiatives to our governing system for 160 years, and it hasn't worked.

To the contrary, the cures offered by initiative add complexity to the system, and make the system hard to govern.

What's needed is what California has never done -- a total redesign of government to simplify and make the pieces fit together. That can't be done by ballot initiative -- it requires rewriting the constitution, either through a convention or a revision committee.

It would be nice if one of these grand plans shied away from the initiative process -- and outlined a process, and a plan, for a true redesign. But I'm not holding my breath.

So no matter how enticing a particular proposal looks when it's released as a piece of one of these many plans, ask yourself: do you know how this touted "reform" will interact with the rest of California's system? Do the authors of the reform know how it will interact? 

The answer to both questions is almost certainly going to be no. 

More on Think Long:

"Think Long" Could Be Governance Game-Changer

The Promise of the Homeless Billionaire's Think Long Committee...

...And The Perils of the Homeless Billionaire's Think Long Commitee

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