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Thursday, June 24, 2010

Zero-sum Thinking and California's Budget

With California's budget in crisis mode, the solutions have been presented by lawmakers and the media in strictly zero-sum terms. You can think of a zero-sum game as a pie. If one piece of that pie gets bigger, another piece necessarily has to become smaller. In other words, you either cut spending (by cutting services and reducing the quality of life in California) or raise taxes (which comes with its own set of drawbacks). Democrats support raising taxes- mostly on corporations- while Republicans want to cut spending.

There is certainly something to be said for cutting wasteful spending out of the state's budget. For instance, the record numbers of non-violent offenders who are being held for life in California's prisons because of its Three Strikes Law, or the millions spent on the secure transportation of prisoners in comas and with other severe medical conditions that would prevent them from posing a threat if they were released on medical parole.

The California budget and economy, however, are not zero-sum games. They are complex, dynamic, chaotic systems and the application of some creative problem solving with a dynamic mindset could go a long way toward ending California's fiscal woes.

Here are just three examples of that kind of thinking at work:

Read the whole article at CAIVN.

W. E. Messamore, Editor in Chief
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