Since he first ran for city council in 2014, Councilman Jose F. Moreno has hankered to enact more city taxes. In recent weeks, he has been exploiting the damage the COVID crisis has inflicted on city finances to push for new taxes. He has been asking the council to place new taxes on the November 2020 ballot. He is talking about ticket taxes on the Disneyland Resort, Angel Stadium baseball games and events, Ducks games and Honda Center events – even cel phones.

At the most recent council meeting, Moreno failed to gain a third vote to agendize placing new taxes on the ballot. District 1 Councilmember Denise Barnes voiced her support for increasing taxes.

Moreno referred to the “defund the police” e-mails being sent in by anti-police activists, and expressed support for diverting money from law enforcement and into toward social services.  Making his pitch for more taxes and less police funding, Moreno said he favored “nurturing and watering our beautiful neighborhoods – the garden, we might call them” instead of having the police being “so present” and engaging in “suppression and enforcement.”

“When we don’t nurture our gardens in our neighborhoods – meaning our young people, our families, our neighborhoods themselves, then the police have to take a different role. And they’re pushed into that role.  I hope that if we can re-direct our budget through nurture, and hopefully maybe find other revenues that we can examine.”

Quite a paternalistic metaphor for the relationship of citizens to their government: the people are plants and the government is the gardener who takes care of them with the water of taxation.

Of course, Moreno omits a critical responsibility of the gardener: protecting the garden being injured and devoured by pests and predators. The plants’ growth can also be stunted by over-watering.

Nonetheless, it’s a bit disturbing for an elected official to view free citizens as passive plants that depend on the government for their care and feeding.

Humpty Dumpty Progressivism
In Through The Looking Glass, Humpty Dumpty told a confused Alice, “When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.”

A maddening aspect of contemporary leftists is their proclivity for draining words of their plain meaning.  Progressive activists may use the same words as regular folks, but they mean different things.

Take the slogan “Defund the Police” that has risen to prominence in recent weeks. A normal, reasonable person takes it to mean what it says: ending funding for law enforcement.  Progressives like Moreno respond that when they say defund the police, they don’t really mean defund the police.  Their real intent, they’ll explain, is to divert police funding into social programs which they claim – against historical experience – will more effectively reduce crime than active policing.

Moreno is a canny politician who understands that ordinary voters, relying on experience and common sense, don’t really buy that argument. And so he re-defines social program spending as “comprehensive public safety.” That way, Moreno and his allies can sound like their calling for more public safety funding when they actually want less.

Social justice warriors call for “Abolishing ICE.” That makes ordinary voters – who believe countries should control their borders – understandably nervous. So the more savvy progressives explain they don’t really mean “abolish” ICE.  Or take the slogan “ACAB” (an acronym for “All Cops Are Bastards”) that adorned placards at the June 1 student protest organized by Moreno and Comrades. “We don’t really mean ALL cops are bastards,” an adherent of that anti-police slogan has told me, going into a long, convoluted explanation of what it really means.

Ordinary voters tend to take you at your word: if you say you want to abolish ICE and think all cops are bastards, they’ll take you at your word. Then again, a lot of left-wing activists really do want to abolish ICE and do think all police officers are bastards.

It’s difficult to have a policy discussion with political activists who instead of saying what they mean, unilaterally re-define words to mean something else entirely. It’s misleading, and purposely so.