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Things are about to get a lot hotter in California. In response to political deadlock over its $42 billion deficit, State Controller John Chiang announced today that he would suspend some $3.7 billion in payments, including tax refunds, starting Feb. 1.

"Let me make this point," Chiang told reporters at a press conference in Sacramento, the state capital. "Delaying these payments will hurt real people, many of whom are barely hanging on in these tight times.

The payments include $2 billion in tax refunds owed taxpayers, vendor payments, welfare checks and student grants. If it comes to this, the state will issue IOUs instead of checks.

Great. Wonder if landlords or the grocery store takes IOUs?
Guess what happens when workers, students and the needy don't get money they're due? Everybody retrenches, nobody spends, and the economy spirals downward in an ever-quickening funnel. At that point the only folks buying cars or houses are well-paid politicians (legislators in California earn $116,000 in base salary, plus a $173 per diem for daily expenses) or Hollywood movie stars, like California governor Arnold "da Gubernator" Scwarzenegger.

At this point, as a third-generation Californian, I have this to say: Dudes! Like, where's OUR bailout?

California is the eighth -largest economy in the world. As California goes, so goes the rest of the nation. It's in nobody's best interest if we go belly up. In other words, "we're too big to fail."

Yes, we've mismanaged our finances appallingly. Yes, we've spent on the wrong things and let our infrastructure go to hell. True, our political process is mired in gridlock and partisanship. But is that so very different from what the leaders of Citigroup and Bank of America, GM and AIG have done? Not at all!

So why not ask for a bailout? Our deficit is only $42 billion; small change compared to what our government is forking over to failed banks, automobile and insurance companies. And as long as Uncle Sam has the printing presses working overtime.

Save our butts, guys, and all of us here in the most populous state in the union will be ever so, you know, like totally grateful. Come on out from that frigid East Coast cold and chill SoCal style (it's been 85 degrees here all week!). Girls, much like the ones pictured, are happy to show you around. Just bring your checkbook.

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