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My Teams Missed the Playoffs, and I Blame the Legislature

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Opinion: My Teams Missed the Playoffs, and I Blame the Legislature

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Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

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I feel let down. My favorite baseball team is the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. My second favorite team is the Los Angeles Dodgers. And this week, both missed the Major League Baseball playoffs.

And what did the California state legislators do to avert this dual tragedy? Absolutely nothing.

They sat on their hands, failing to act, as two popular Southern California institutions failed to prosper. Instead, they passed mindless legislation while important businesses that have invested hundreds of millions of dollars in our region and our state (much of it going to Albert Pujols and Matt Kemp) couldn't advance to the postseason. Is it that they hate business? Or is there a bias in favor of the San Francisco Giants and Oakland A's, both of which play within easy driving distance of the state Capitol?

I mean, this blog is a big fan of Los Angeles-area Assemblyman Mike Gatto and his efforts at governance reform, but how can he justify sitting by and doing nothing for six weeks while the Dodgers failed to get a significant clutch hit, thereby disappointing thousands of people in his district?

OK, OK. You think that my argument sounds silly, that it's unreasonable to hold the state legislature responsible for the success of California baseball teams. And you would be right to think that.

But my argument isn't much sillier or unreasonable than most of the criticism we hear about the legislature.

Put simply, the state legislature gets blamed for almost everything that goes wrong in California. If government has a problem, it's because the legislature failed to solve it.

If the unemployment rate is too high, that must all be on the legislature for failing to put millions of people to work. The California legislature also has failed to solve climate change, heal the planet, banish money from our politics, reduce the power of special interests, and end traffic jams.

There are three branches of government in California, and the role of one -- the legislature -- seems mainly to serve as a scapegoat for problems.

The baseball season may be winding down, but the season of legislature-bashing is ramping up. Yes, it's ballot initiative and election time, and everyone is running against the legislature "and Sacramento politicians."

Every initiative sponsor claims they have put their measures on the ballot because of legislative action, even though that's not true. As I've explained in detail elsewhere, the reason so many initiatives are on the ballot is because of voters who, over many decades, have reserved the power to make decisions for themselves and stripped lawmakers of the power to do much of anything, particularly on fiscal matters.

These facts won't deter the legislative bashing at all -- the truth doesn't matter much in California politics -- so I may as well just get in on the fun. And I better starting raising money for a ballot initiative, since the legislature seems totally unwilling to get the Angels better pitching.

Lead Prop Zero blogger Joe Mathews is California editor at Zocalo Public Square, a fellow at Arizona State University’s Center for Social Cohesion, and co-author of California Crackup: How Reform Broke the Golden State and How We Can Fix It (University of California, 2010).

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