The political mood of the country can be captured in one word: glum. In particular, there is widespread recognition at the state level that conditions have reached near-crisis proportions. In states such as California, Illinois, and New York, large deficits and service cutbacks loom, as traditional tax bases can no longer support the ambitious entitlement programs that rest precariously upon them. Tax revenues are down 10 percent across all states, even as taxes are raised in half of them.
The consequences are serious. Just look at the implosion in higher education taking place at the University of California. State revenues have gone dry, budgets have been slashed; yet student and labor protests make it difficult to raise the tuition and fees needed to maintain a strong institutional base. More and more students are unable to complete their education in four years, and unpaid furloughs will drive the best professors, administrators, and students elsewhere.