In 2004 Californians passed a “millionaires’ tax” : 1% surcharge on top incomes to pay for treatment of mental illness. How’s that worked out? Exactly as you’d expect – money down a rat hole.
Voters approved Proposition 63, the so-called “millionaire’s tax,” in 2004 to make up for decades of mental health cuts. The ballot summary said it would “expand services and develop innovative programs” for the mentally ill and the text of the measure stipulated 20 percent of the funds would go to programs “effective in preventing mental illnesses from becoming severe” and “reducing the duration of untreated severe mental illnesses.”
$7.4 billion collected, billions spent on stuff like this:
The state has approved spending on acupuncture, art and drama classes, sweat lodges for American Indians, parenting courses for Spanish-speakers and massage chairs for students in Southern California. More than two dozen counties have spent money on anti-bullying programs and several have used it to fund horseback riding therapy, including a $944,843 program in Kings County.
Fresno County spent $315,000 on gardens for Hmong refugees. In San Francisco, Proposition 63 money pays for city workers with mental illness in their families to attend lunchtime yoga classes.
For three years, the Department of Mental Health paid someone $76,000 a year to work from home and recruit celebrities to promote a Proposition 63 anti-stigma campaign. The position, which also included interacting with local law enforcement, was cut in 2011 after the state auditor’s office determined it had been a waste of public funds.
Ron Henninger, former chairman of the Santa Clara Mental Health Department, said such spending means people with real mental illness have been “left on their own.”
“It’s almost like they were propping up other areas of the county with Prop 63 funds instead of directly taking care of the sick people,” he said.
The point here is not that government spending needs to be more carefully monitored, it’s that government spending is by definition the spending of someone else’s money on other people and thus no one cares how it is spent or where it goes. You can’t do anything about that, you can only stop feeding it. Starve the government.