As the old saying goes, Cali-fornia is the land of the fruit and the nuts. And in keeping with those words of wisdom, California Governor Jerry Brown is asking for another tax hike this November. After all, when your state is bankrupt and the unemployment rate is at 11% (around 2 million people out of work) what else CAN you do but raise taxes? Brown hopes that there are enough moronic voters out here willing to give up what little money they have left so that our state government can mis-manage it … once again.
Think I’m exaggerating? Ac-cording to an Associated Press report, tens of millions of dollars in state money which was sup-posed to go to treat the mentally ill have been going instead for art and drama classes, Native Ameri-can sweat lodges, and a “mood management” course for Latina mothers.
Back in 2004 gullible voters passed Proposition 63, an addi-tional tax on anyone making more than a million dollars. Ultimately the state collected $7.4 billion that was to be used specifically for the treatment of mental illness in our state. But I guess it all depends on what the definition of “mentally ill” is. As far as the Department of Mental Health is concerned, they have a pretty loose definition. Some of the programs currently being funded by Prop.63 money include:
* Lunchtime yoga classes for San Francisco city workers.
* $1 million in horseback-therapy sessions for Kings County.
* $230,000 to develop a plan for self-help, drop-in centers featuring massage chairs for relieving muscle tension, a meditation room, and a biofeedback lab where students use computer software to learn breathing and relaxation techniques for The Tri-City Mental Health Center, which serves Pomona, Claremont, and La Verne.
* $547,805 for the inaugural year of a program in San Diego where homebound seniors receive daily meals from workers who also screen them for depression or suicidal thoughts.
* A 12-week “mood manage-ment” course in Riverside titled Mamas y Bebes that helps young Latina mothers create a healthy physical, social, and psychological environment for themselves and their infants. The course is one of eight parenting programs that together have an annual approved budget of $2,958,317.
* $8.1 million has been budg-eted in San Bernardino over three years for a “holistic campus” of three community centers that provide services like acupuncture, art classes, equine therapy, tai-chi, and Zumba to the general public. The recently-launched program is expected to reach about 7,000 people a year.
San Berdo’s “holistic campus” provider, Mental Health Systems, says it aims to serve “Native American tribes, Asian Americans, African Americans, and Latino populations, as well as … gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered individuals” through alternative programs like “Curanderos, Native American Drumming Rituals, acupuncture and acupressure, and even [an LGBT]prom.”
So how did this happen? Well, in 2007 California mental-health officials made a change in the spending plan. They took the 20 percent of Proposition 63 funds aimed at reducing the severity and length of mental illnesses for already-diagnosed patients, and redirected the money to promote mental “wellness” in apparently healthy people. This is where the art and drama classes, the sweat lodges, and the mood manage-ment came in, as well as pro-grams involving acupuncture, nu-trition, gardening, camping, and horseback-riding.
Meanwhile, state spending on real mental-health services has continued to slip, and the Califor-nia Department of Mental Health has been eliminated to save money. The percentage of prison inmates with mental illnesses has risen to 26 percent from 19 percent in 2007. No spending allocated to them. And not a dime of this $7.4 billion has gone to help our mentally disturbed military veterans, many of which are living on the streets.
As a lifelong born and raised Californian, I can attest to the fact that our state has more than its share of mental illness. The question is, who is really nuts here? Hint: it’s not the lying politicians, they’re doing just fine. The ones who need their heads examined are the empty-headed taxpayers who continue to throw more billions into the coffers in Sacramento. Go ahead fellow Californians, vote Jerry Brown some more tax money. After all, our state could always use a few more massage chairs and yoga classes for civil servants.