Cross-posted at CalWatchdog

California’s government unions must be tipsy from all the celebratory champagne they’ve been drinking the past week. As John Hrabe reports today, they’re intimidating signature gatherers for initiatives that would reduce union power. Meanwhile, the California Legislature, which they own lock, stock and beer barrel, can put initiatives on a statewide ballot ad libitum.

Gov. Jerry Brown, whom the unions also own, signed into law a bill putting all initiatives on November ballots in general-election years. That will put budget and pension reform measures on ballots that have more union participation, making such reforms more likely to be defeated.

But at the end of “The Matrix” the soundtrack blares “Wake Up!” by Rage Against the Machine:

Wake up! Wake up! Wake up! Wake up!

Wake up! Wake up! Wake up! Wake up!

How long? Not long, cause what you reap is what you sow

No kidding. We also say: What goes around, comes around. Bad Karma’s gonna get you.

What the unions have done is plug the Pressure Relief Valve of democracy. If you’ve ever worked on a hot-water heater in your home, you know that it includes a Pressure Release Valve. If the hot water heats too much, it can risk blowing the whole heater apart, possibly hurting or killing someone in your family. The Pressure Relief Valve allows boiling water to flow out of the heater, reducing the pressure inside the heater so it doesn’t explode.

That’s how initiatives and referendums work in California. Do-gooders don’t like it that so many initiatives appear on ballots, often badly written. But what’s the alternative? The Legislature and local governments are dysfunctional. With the withering of the Republican Party, California now effectively is a one-party state. I suspect that the Democratic Party will bifurcate, as it did on the old Democratic-run Solid South of the USA before 1970. But that hasn’t happened yet.

Union-Owned Brown

The governor promised he would be independent of the government workers’ unions that plopped him on the governor’s stool. But he’s been almost totally in thrall to them. He’s such a union lackey he makes Arnold Schwarzenegger look like Hiram Johnson.

The dismal results keep coming in:

* California state government revenues were supposed to go up by $4 billion in the current fiscal year. That’s what Brown and the Legislative fiscal geniuses wrote into the 2011-12 state budget. Instead, for the first three months of the new fiscal year, revenues are down $705.5 million; over the full fiscal year, that would be down $2.8 billion.

No doubt Brown and the other tax obsessives — in the Legislature and the mainstream media — will blame the shortfall on the lack of tax increases. But tax increases only would have made America’s Worst Business Climate even worse.

* Santa Ana, California’s 11th most populous city, might declare bankruptcy. According to Voice of OC, “Although Santa Ana city officials and union leaders are saying they can work together to pare down the city’s $30-million budget deficit, the word bankruptcy is being whispered more often these days in the corridors of City Hall.

“And it is clear, as the city and unions enter the early stages of negotiations, that if the two sides don’t agree to drastic cost-saving measures, the prospect of bankruptcy will go from a persistent rumor to a distinct possibility.

* Another anti-business law Brown signed bans credit checks of potential employees. There’s an easy way around this for businesses: leave the state.

Instead, why don’t Brown and the Legislature stop being so anti-business? That way, fewer people will lose their jobs and be forced to declare bankruptcy.

Supposedly this law will help people who got stuck in the Depression and saw their credit ruined. In fact only will hurt them by slamming businesses that create jobs.

The unions have so much power that they’re driving cities, and the state, into bankruptcy. There’s no longer a democratic Pressure Relief Valve. The unions can repeal democracy and impose unionocracy, but they can’t repeal the laws of economics. One of those is: if you waste all your money, you go bankrupt.

Here’s the last scene in “The Matrix,” soundtrack “Wake Up!” In the opening words, Neo talks directly to the California unions and Democratic Party.