Things are tough in California, and Democrat politicians make it worse.

Beware: What happens in California spreads across the country.

Cities face budget crunches, and bankruptcy threatens. Vallejo already hit the wall. Many school systems are on the verge of state takeover. Businesses close or move out of state because of onerous taxes, regulations and bureaucracy.

California lawmakers never met a law, regulation or tax they didn’t like. Politicians have a perennial glint of gold in their eyes as they devise more ways to squeeze citizens.

It isn’t called the Golden State for nothing.

California missed the budget deadline again. The “late budget” is an annual rite, but it’s getting old.

The Democrat-controlled legislature spends money all year like drunken sailors, and then, when faced with huge year-end deficits, resorts to higher taxes.

Gov. Schwarzenegger threw down the gauntlet last week, signing an executive order to lay off part-time state employees and put the rest on minimum wage until the legislature comes up with a budget.

Faced with a shortfall of $17.2 billion, the governor insists he won’t raise taxes; he wants cuts. Needless to say, schools, unions and vested Democrat interests are screaming bloody murder; just suggesting cuts causes apoplexy.

If it weren’t so serious, it would be funny.

But reality is ugly. The housing market spirals downward with home values dropping. Foreclosures are common; “auction” on real-estate signs in affluent areas isn’t unusual.

Add to that business closures, job layoffs, skyrocketing gas prices, spiraling food prices, the overall economic crunch, bank closures, mortgage bailouts and more. Times are tense.

In addition, as the state pays for fighting unprecedented numbers of wildfires, California faces drought.

Customers of the East Bay Municipal Water District, or EBMUD, outside of San Francisco, face mandatory 20 percent cutbacks in water use. EBMUD will enforce it by raising rates for “overuse” and fines for major infractions.

It’s also hiring “water police” to spy on and nab water wasters. In addition, it also encourages neighbors to “snitch” on anyone thought to be wasting a drop.

With all that, what are politicians are doing?

Remember – this is California.

The attorney general, Jerry Brown (the same Jerry Brown who ran for president, who as California’s governor was nicknamed ‘Gov. Moonbeam’ and who’s a declared candidate for governor again, as Schwarzenegger is termed out) is now ‘Mr. Environmentalist’ with a vengeance.

The town of McCloud, 300 miles north of San Francisco, is experiencing hard times. Its lumber mill is gone, the result of environmentalists anti-logging efforts. McCloud needs businesses for economic survival.

The Swiss-owned Nestle Waters North America wants to tap into three natural springs and build a water-bottling plant. It would provide McCloud with a viable future. The initial proposal involved some $350 million a year paid to the town plus the benefits of jobs and an increased tax base.

That was in 2003, but environmentalists and some citizens fought it. Finally, Nestle proposed a scaled-down plan – a smaller plant and less money to the town. But objections persist and now, Attorney General Jerry Brown is using state muscle.

He says that in addition to Nestle doing extensive environmental studies on air, water, hazardous materials and traffic, it must consider the global warming impact of producing plastic bottles, electrical use and diesel and greenhouse gas emissions from trucks used in transport.

Brown emphasized the “massive quantities of oil” used in the productions of plastic bottles.

He says, “Nestle will face swift legal challenge if it does not fully evaluate the environmental impact of diverting millions of gallons of spring water from the McCloud River into billions of plastic water bottles.”

In other words, he’ll sue to stop the project.

McCloud loses.

Jerry also sued snack manufacturers and fast food companies to force changes in chemicals in their products, getting $3 million for California and forcing some products off the market.

It’s typical California’s politics – dictating how people live and what they can do and use. San Francisco has banned plastic water bottles and outlawed plastic bags.

Mayor Gavin Newsom, the man who violated state law by allowing gay marriages in San Francisco, wanted pharmacy tobacco sales restricted, saying, “They should be places you go to get better, not get cancer.”

Last week, the board of supervisors voted to ban those sales. They plan further restrictions, and Marin County may copy them.

Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi said, “Whatever we can do to make this country a smoke-free zone, we should do it.”

These guys think big.

Newsom also wants “trash cops” who’ll fine residents for not properly sorting their trash.

He also wants businesses forced to provide shuttles or transit passes to get workers out of their cars.

A city law mandating sick leave for all workers is being copied for statewide implementation.

Los Angeles is banning plastic bags, too, and customers will be charged for paper bags.

Breaking new ground last week in limiting personal freedoms, Los Angeles banned new fast-food restaurants in a poor section of town because people there have an above average rate of obesity!

Not to be outdone, Gov. Schwarzenegger signed a bill banning trans fats in restaurants, statewide.

There are proposals to mandate calorie counts on all restaurant menus.

Where’s the end to government intrusion? We’re told what to drive, wear, eat and drink. Government controls gasoline, light bulbs and drinking water. We’re told where and how to live. We’re told how to use our own land, even the kind and number of trees allowed.

Our medical and education choices are state controlled, and we’re told what to believe, say, read and see.

Government is careening out of control. If Americans don’t stop it by making the right choices on Election Day, what freedoms are left may be lost forever.

Note: Read our discussion guidelines before commenting.