Granted, Jerry Brown is crazy. Proof positive is that he ran for governor of California, a doomed state. But he just might be crazy in a good way.
Who knows what Gov. Brown will do? I don't. I doubt Jerry knows. But oddly enough, I predict that -- from a fiscal conservative viewpoint -- he'll be far better than any of us imagined.
Not great. Perhaps not even good. Just better than conservatives expect -- a lot better.
Jerry Brown is an iconoclast who has reached the final office of his long political career. He was put back in the governorship by the Democrats, especially the labor unions. But there is no political reason for him to pander to his supporters.
Jerry is facing monstrous state problems. A bottomless budget deficit. Unfunded pension obligations that are simply unfathomable. A Democrat legislature that now can pass damn near any budget it wants by simple majority vote. A high-speed rail project that is a spectacular financial train wreck bearing down on us all. A hara-kiri global warming bill (Assembly Bill 32) that will gut the state's economy starting in 2011. High unemployment, high taxes, a terrible business climate. Little prospect for economic improvement.
I'm predicting that Jerry doesn't want all that to happen -- certainly not on his watch. And, contrary to what people think, he's smart enough to know he can do much to reduce the problems.
So here are my perhaps reckless predictions:
Will Brown's actions save the state? Sadly, even if I'm right, the answer is "no." The problems are too big for Jerry Brown to solve -- especially with a state legislature owned and operated by the labor unions.
But he's going to try to do the right thing. More often than not. I hope.
Rider is chairman of the San Diego Tax Fighters.