A “Little Shop of Horrors” Legislature?

Joel Fox
Editor and Co-Publisher of Fox and Hounds Daily

Elements of the hit 80s musical Little Shop of Horrors might serve as a parable for the way California governance is shaping up for the new year. With all the demands for new programs and more taxes can’t you hear an echo of the Shop’s devouring plant in the quest for an enlarged government: Feed me!

As reported in the Sacramento Bee, in the first 24 hours of the legislative session, lawmakers introduced more than 100 bills that contained more than $40 billion in proposed new spending.

In one 24 hour day!

How much will be requested before the bill introduction period passes?

More importantly, how many new programs and increased spending will occur under the greatly empowered Democratic supermajority and incoming governor who promised new and often expensive priorities?

The story in Little Shop of Horrors, a musical by Howard Ashman and Alan Menken from a film by Roger Corman and screenwriter Charles Griffith, tells the tale of Seymour working in a skid row florist shop who develops a plant named Audrey Two that grows on blood. In our parable, Seymour stands in for the poor working guy government programs claim to want to help.

The plant needs more nourishment to grow bigger and more powerful. Many of the bills that have already been proposed in the legislature want government to become bigger and more powerful. Government relies on spending programs and tax revenue to grow. Feed me and things will improve, a familiar refrain.

The plant devours Seymour’s boss, the businessman who gives him his job. Is business the target of bigger government advocates? Business is always a target—think the current split roll effort and the temporarily put aside text messaging tax as a couple of examples.

In the end, despite promising to help the little guy, the plant is enriched and Seymour suffers.

As the legislature revs into full gear, Californians be wary. Remember the chorus’s warning as more costly, seemingly attractive programs and promises are proposed:

They may offer you fortune and fame
Love and money and instant acclaim
But whatever they offer you,
Don’t feed the plants!

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