Stranger than fiction

The movie 2012 is a metaphor of our times

Dr. Frongia is an emeritus professor in foreign language and literature at Chico State University.

You may have seen 2012, the movie. It’s a sci-fi fantasy, quite entertaining, with terrific special effects, kooky geo-astrophysics, and scary, wacky apocalyptic prophecies. What has long been the secret desire of some not-so-funny out-of-state jokers finally happens: Our beloved state breaks apart and falls into the ocean.

While scientifically fictional, the scenario of our sliding into the abyss is a clear and present danger, if 2012 is read as a metaphor of our economic, fiscal and educational situation. And, at the current rate of entropy, we may get there before 2012!

Having abdicated a guiding vision and deviated from the common good, our state has become gradually dysfunctional and ungovernable in its present structural configuration. Ideological polarization in Sacramento, irrationality in budget priorities, and gradual disempowerment of a once-efficient Legislature through a series of self-serving ballot measures and myopic propositions have brought us to the edge of the abyss.

Gravest of all, we are placing unbearable burdens on the younger generation, and jeopardizing their future productivity, by shutting them out in huge numbers from access to higher education and professional training, and sending to the unemployment line many of those who manage to finish their college education with considerable debt. After last year’s budget debacle, the future looks even grimmer.

Now is the time for all Californians of good will and common sense—the vast majority of our citizenry—to come together and repair/reform the instruments by which we are governed.

We need to identify in our midst, and send to Sacramento to speak on our behalf, stewards of the common good who will reset our priorities, who will deal with our considerable sources of revenue—we are the eighth-largest economy on the planet!—in an evenhanded manner, restore the majoritarian principle of democratic governance in budget matters, tackle the task of re-writing an obsolete state constitution, and free the hands of our representatives to apply the necessary means to the desired ends.

In spite of the recent national and state setbacks, the California Dream is within our grasp. The year 2012 might be that of rebirth and transfiguration for the Golden State, rather than the year of its obliteration. Let’s seize the day! Time is of the essence.