Sunday, February 14 , 2016, 3:19 am | Fair 60º

Henry Schulte: You Can’t Fix Stupid ... But We Would Be Dumb for Not Trying

By Henry Schulte | updated logo |

I was riding my bicycle up Old San Marcos Pass when a car flew passed me and then pulled over to the side. As I rode by I saw an arm reach out and tap the ashes of his cigarette onto the dry grass. Sometimes things happen that trigger your thoughts in another direction. What came to mind at that moment were the words from comedian Ron White from one of his shows, You Can’t Fix Stupid.

This led my thought process down the political path as I continued to peddle my way to the top. I started thinking about California and the condition the state is in. For as long as I can remember, California has been in control of liberal Democrats with the sprinkling of conservative governors tossed in. And in all those years, I’ve been witness to the decay of what was once labeled the Golden State.

We are now at the bottom of the heap with nearly the highest taxes (and more to come), the bottom of the education pool, perhaps the worst roads, the highest gas prices, the most regulations, the highest number of illegal immigrants, and businesses are pulling out as fast as they can. Unions control the state and dictate how people are going to vote and how our Legislature runs the state. And yet, knowing all this, we continue to vote in the same people over and over again and continue our spiral downward.

In the meantime, we watch as more and more cities file for bankruptcy. Never more are White’s words more applicable than how California is run. “You can’t fix stupid” sounds harsh, but it summarizes very succinctly what we’re up against.

California has the highest mountain peak in the lower 48, the lowest point in Death Valley, the largest trees, the most coastline, some of the country’s most beautiful cities and probably the most natural resources, including the evil oil. But, like the unions, the environmentalists have also placed a stranglehold around the throat of the state’s black bear. We have over-regulated ourselves into oblivion and relinquished all common sense. With our oil resources, we could become a country unto ourselves, flush in cash, have the best roads and provide everyone with great opportunities of prosperity.

Instead of trying to cut back on all the wasteful spending, gain control on the special interests, do something about the most popular state in which to collect welfare and strip the unions of their power, the wisdom of our governor is to tax more. As always, they use the children and the schools to pry the emotional dollars from our pockets. And again, as we’ve seen in the past, it never works. In the end, the kids still get hurt, the unions keep the money, the debt continues to rise and nothing changes other than we are now deeper in the hole and only wait until the next election cycle so we can raise taxes again because once again the schools (unions) will need more money.

I’m beginning to believe White’s words are true: You just can’t fix stupid, and we’re all to blame.

The universities aren’t better off. The pensions have gotten out of control, and the educators continue to receive astronomical salaries for which they barely have to work — if they work at all. But the burden of their failure is placed upon the students/parents who are asked to pony up more money to fix the mistakes of those they’re aspiring to be.

Carry this liberal agenda of what’s happening in California and you’re witnessing what’s happening to the country on the whole. We are being asked to pay more taxes to fix the mistakes of those we entrust to run this great land. We are continually asked to put out more money, and things are only getting worse. The ruse that the wealthy need to pay their fair share is just that. We are so deep in debt that if everyone in the country worked for free it still wouldn’t help.

Strip away for a moment that there are Republicans and Democrats, liberals or conservatives, and bring things down to the bare bones of what we as a nation facing. We have a $16 trillion debt that costs us $4 billion a day to service. We can’t sustain those numbers. It’s impossible. And we certainly can’t allow it to climb higher.

Taxing people who work hard to fix the mistakes of others won’t fix the mistake, and it won’t get us out of this fiscal nightmare. We have to stop spending and cut back on everything; otherwise, it won’t matter what your political views are. Our money won’t be worth anything and we’ll have accomplished what no terrorist could — we’ll bring America to her knees, and she may never stand again. After all, who is going to bale us out? China?

Almost everything is made outside this country anymore. I walked through the Disney stores last year and turned over everything I could and confirmed it was all made in China. Harley-Davidson, an American icon, has its clothes made in Asia. I remember when I was young all the manufacturing jobs that were in this country, including in our own backyard in Goleta. Assembly lines employing thousands of people. All gone. We can argue that the unions have priced themselves out of the country, but again we only have ourselves to blame. And, we have all the oil we need and yet we continue import from countries that want to kill us. The list is endless, and it’s a sad testament of where we’ve gone.

Maybe a change in leadership won’t accomplish much. It certainly didn’t work out the last round. What we really need is a change in the American people — all of us. We need to make compromises with unions, stop playing with our phones and stand up to get our jobs back to America. Maybe we can’t fix stupid, but if we don’t try then we really are the dummies.

— Henry Schulte of Santa Barbara owns and operates Dos Pueblos Ranch. He has been politically active in the community for years. Click here to read additional columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

» on 11.06.12 @ 12:52 AM

Hey Henry,
If you had stopped to ask, the guy with the cigarette in the grass was probably a registered Republican. Did you stop and stomp it out? Did you confront him?
I don’t think the unions and the environmentalists have a “stranglehold around the throat of the state’s black bear.” The state’s bear is the locally extinct grizzly, or brown bear, and if you spent any time in the mountains you’s know that the black bear is doing more than fine. Maybe you’re trying to use a metaphor? Not a good one.
Here’s the deal: when my family came here in the late 1960’s, nobody in LA could see the mountains. The smog was so thick little kids fainted in the supermarkets. The “environmentalists” got the smog laws pushed through and fixed that.
Santa Barbara was the Exxon Valdez of the day. Nobody wanted to come here for a vacation and see the tar. The enviros fixed that, too.
You’ve got a ranch and plenty of money, Henry. You’re not like most folks around here who have one asset, their house, and a tenuous hold on their job. Better you shut the crap down complaining about people who get things cleaned up (the environmentalists) and people who try to get a fair working wage (the unions).
When I was a young man in the 1970’s, I was making $14/hr as a carpenter’s apprentice (4th period of 8), and my friend made the same as a Von’s checker. Yesterday I talked to a Trader Joe’s checker who makes that same $14 now, and TJ’s hired people during the summer at $14.50/hr - while he and the others were still making $14. That’s why unions come in.
You want to blame somebody for unions? Blame dumbass managers. You want to blame somebody for environmentalists? Blame the bumbass polluters.
Get off you high ass Sportster and ride a few miles in your neighbor’s pedals.

» on 11.06.12 @ 12:57 AM

And by the way, I agree with you about manufacturing being outsourced, I just think you’re blaming the wrong culprit. Vote for Romney and you’ll be making that problem way worse.

» on 11.06.12 @ 09:37 AM

after 40 years f dems in charge - look at the state of the state .....We are screwed -

» on 11.06.12 @ 11:44 AM

Lots of emotional rhetoric, beautifully composed for the most part, but way too many generalizations that would not pass muster with the chief fact checker. What I would love to hear from this point on, is a machine’s analysis of the state of the state and union. We really need a person like TVs Bones, who could possibly be the Head Fact Checker in Chief.

Emotional arguments from a passionate Republican hold no water. Neither would those of a similarly passionate Democrat. Problem is, you’re just too inaccurate. Period. You generalize about teachers and their salaries in such an insulting, inaccurate manner. You think all unions are flush? And on and on.

Therefore, Henry, you’re changing no one’s opinion because your comments are not well-considered, nor for the most part, factually accurate.

You are not believable because you were born with a silver spoon in your mouth and will never understand what it’s like to live from paycheck to paycheck.

You were raised at your father’s Republican knee, so you’ve never really had an independent political conversation with yourself.

Lets just Face it. Have nots just don’t relate to the Haves. Unless they have made an attempt to understand the broader issues facing their opposites.

Sorry about the overuse of the word ‘accurate’, but I, for one, am tired of the ads and speeches we have been exposed to that are just plain exaggeration and maybe carefully calculated ‘lies’.

I want to hear the truth, I think it’s time for a computer, which has no emotion, just the facts, ma’am, to lay out where we are and what is true.

One last point, it takes courage to offer your thoughts in a public forum like this. Henry, you have laid yourself open for positive and negative responses to your points of view. That does take courage. You will have a lot of people emotionally agreeing with you. I just wish we could eliminate the emotions for a moment and check the facts. And then, plot our course!

» on 11.06.12 @ 01:18 PM

While Henry blames the Dems for all that ails CA I say its not the Dems or the Repubs but instead its all Henry’s fault - him and every other member of the worst American generation in our fabled history.  The Baby Boomers.  Both those on the right and the left are the ones to blame for all that ails us in CA.  After all they’re the ones who stole our future to assure their cushy life. They’re the ones who loaded us up on debt, padded their retirement, drained the once great public school system and now live out their golden years with no interest or desire to pay for their party… instead, they collectively blame the other party, collectively refuse to pay for their excesses and collectively collect the largest retirement packages in history.  All without regard for the future or who has to sacrifice what to pay for their excesses… 

Yes Henry, it’s your fault.  On your way to your ranch - which I assume you bought with money you made with your own hands - you forgot that the road was paved before you took charge, the water was there, the power was there, the framework and groundwork was laid for you by generations that lived within their means and left the best for their children… an ideal that went the way of the CA Grizzly and a affordable college degree with the boomers taking power some 30 years ago…

While you and your fellow Boomers have taken it all for your own and now you have the audacity to blame everyone but the culprit – you and your ideals and actions… after all you’re the ones who have been in power for the demise, you’re the ones who oversaw this great fleecing, all while sacrificing nothing.

Nice legacy

» on 11.06.12 @ 01:59 PM

A good summary of our challenges. And people like Rambler and BeenThere are a major part of the problem.

Sure the environmental movement helped to clean up the air and oil spills. But in the past few decades the pendulum has swung way too far and they are severely over-controlling our state. The unions once were needed to give labor a voice when greedy owners/managers were taking advantage of them. But that was many many decades ago. The unions now have a stranglehold on the political process in this state.

All we have to do is look at the facts - our state is rated at the absolute bottom of states in which to do business. We have taxes almost at the very top in the nation. Our schools are not training our students as well as they once did and school administrators can’t get rid of bad teachers because of union rules. Etc., et., etc.

Henry is right - we can’t fix stupid.

» on 11.06.12 @ 03:11 PM

There you go, ART. More emoting based on ignorance. What makes you think you know what you say is factually correct? Do you have any idea what it is like to teach children who have no home support? I know this as a fact, just based on the words you are using… you have no idea! Otherwise, you wouldn’t be blaming teachers that Johnny can’t read! You would instead be talking to the village that is raising Johnny. You’re flat out blaming the wrong people, if blame is the proper word to be using. Sit down and be honest with yourself, please.

» on 11.06.12 @ 04:02 PM

Well, BeenThere, in fact as the father of a CA school teacher, I do know whereof I speak.

If you read what I wrote, I didn’t blame the teachers for anything. I simply stated the fact that our students score way down in the pecking order of student achievement tests while CA teachers are the 4th highest paid teachers in the country.

My problem in CA isn’t with the individual teachers, although there are some bad ones out there. My issue is with the all- powerful and very political teachers’ unions.

» on 11.06.12 @ 04:56 PM

Just curious, why does this guy get a whole page?

» on 11.07.12 @ 12:15 PM

Face it, Art, your beef with the unions is based on their political leaning, which is always Democrat. If you were a teacher, you would want to be paid a decent salary, and you would be union. Our teachers are not overpaid.

Modern unions came about because management continually made decisions that hurt the workers. Think about the example I gave, above. Trader Joe’s was pretty well-run and is not unionized, but they made a decision to keep their workers at part-time status and $14/hr, while hiring new people at $14.50. I predict that they will either correct these issues, or end up unionized.

Whether you like it or not, unions are part of the free market. The union addresses the imbalance between the rights of the very vulnerable individual worker, and the rights of the very powerful employer. They have existed as guilds and brotherhoods for a thousand years, and for good reason: human beings will naturally take cruel advantage of one another if there is no threat of reprisal. Humans have not suddenly become more humane or less greedy over the last 40 years.

Think about it. A thousand years ago, what recourse did a blacksmith have, if the lord decided to stiff him, or just kill him, rather than pay his bill? None, as an individual. But being blacklisted by the guild was a serious threat that no lord could afford.

People who require others to lose and suffer so that they can make or retain a profit are not businessmen, they are thugs. If your business cannot operate without harming or making virtual slaves of other humans, you are a thug.

Democrats recognize this. It requires a superior person to be a successful businessman, but not to be a thug. Republicans can’t distinguish a businessman from a thug.

» on 11.08.12 @ 04:26 PM

Fascinating, that intellectual zealots allow themselves to see what they want to see.

In this issue, Mr. Schulte convinces himself that CA state government has been
mostly under control of liberal Democrats during most of his lifetime.

That’s true, except, of course, for Earl Warren, Goodwin Knight, Ronald Reagan,
George Deukmejian, Pete Wilson, and Arnold.

Which is to say that, of the last sixty years, Henry’s foes have run the statehouse
for just 23 years: Pat Brown, Jerry Brown, Gray Davis (5 years), Jerry Brown II.

The utility de-regulation disaster - anyone remember Enron? - happened during
Pete Wilson.

The total collapse of the CA budget process and the explosion of the deficit both happened under Arnold.

Similarly, the two most gigantic increases in the National Debt since WW II took
place in Washington under Reagan, then GW Bush. And Bush managed the feat
with “conservative” Republicans in the majority in both houses for 3/4 of his
tenure, earmarking the pork with more gusto than most of the Dem opposition.

But Henry chooses to see and believe what he wants.


Also glad to see that he marked down the idiot flicking cigarette ash along the

» on 11.08.12 @ 04:44 PM

Publius, When you discuss who was “in control” of the state government you must discuss which political party was the majority party, i.e. “in control,” of the legislature. Who was the majority party controlling the state legislature during the time those Republican governors that you listed were in office? Serious question; I don’t know. I do know that recently the legislature has been controlled by the liberal left.

And when you say that the governor is in control of the state, that isn’t really true because the governor can only administer the laws and budgets passed by the legislature.

» on 11.09.12 @ 04:29 PM

Nice argument Publius, however you are making the same mistake. You assume it was this policy or that administration, dems, republicans, liberals conservatives, all are complicit.

The fact is someguy, probably the one who I disagree with the most on these threads, is closer than any of you on what ails our state and national economy. I agree that the baby boom generation is the worst in American history. Selfish, vile, shallow, lazy and utterly spoiled they consume vast amounts of resources and never earn what they take. However, it is stupid to lay the blame on any one generation or political ideology.

What ails California and is now over taking our nation is in the simplest terms I can use a matter of balance. We use more, burn more, eat more and consume more than any people on earth while simultaneously producing less and less value added products and services. The right continues to prop up gamblers, looters, pillagers, pirates and banksters as model capitalists while the left continues to prop up their equally offensive and parasitic cousins unions, public services, governments, activists, lawyers and other non productive loud mouths vying for their piece of the dwindling pie.

The producers, those whose activities add more intrinsic value than those activities consume are dwindling and carrying an ever larger burden. Of course they are not keeping up. Private debt even after all the fall out from financial ruin is at an all time high, about $38 trillion. Public debt both state and federal is now greater than our economic output at about $24 trillion. When you add the crushing burden of unfunded liabilities the debt we carry is now over a staggering $100 trillion.

California’s woes began when we ran out of oil and regulated industry out of the state. Yes our skies and beaches are cleaner but those who paid the bills are gone and now we sit around looking at who is left to pillage to pay for our paradise. The same is happening all across the country. As California goes, so goes the nation. We are the leaders and we are leading the country into bankruptcy and yes someguy, the baby boomers are right out there in front charging ahead right over the cliff.

I hoped that we could turn this around. But the GOP decided to run a bland, though capable, Wall Street bankster for a candidate against a populous president who has no resume but plenty of charm. Well how charming now. Good luck Barack Obama. We are broke financially, morally bankrupt and have none of the resources your progressive ancestors had to bail them out. The country that put a man on the moon is stymied by squabbling factions and special interests none of which is the least bit interested in minding the damned store.

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