In a pre-election poll released on Wednesday, 61 percent of those polled say they will recall Davis, and 45 percent say they will vote for Schwarzenegger. It appears evident that California will soon be under the leadership of the Terminator himself. However, it’s not his action star image or his “your tax loopholes are so big I could drive my Hummer through it” attitude that bother me. Instead, I am appalled by the contemptuous manner with which he speaks of Indian gaming. Relying on the racist undercurrent throughout California, Schwarzenegger uses hateful campaign propaganda to portray the Native American tribes as a selfish group that drains the state’s resources, makes millions of dollars cheating gamblers out of their money, controls the politicians in Sacramento and, on top of it all, refuses to contribute their fair share of tax revenue to the state government. The true fact of the matter is that native tribes have not been holding out and refusing to give us their money. Native tribes only have gaming revenues in the first place because their reservations are federal land and subsequently are not under the state of California’s jurisdiction.
Military bases are in a similar situation, and accordingly military bases are not subject to state taxation. This means that military personnel can buy their groceries, appliances, electronics and pretty much anything else at commissaries and military exchanges free of sales tax-all at a loss to the state. So if California has the right to tax native gaming, why shouldn’t they have the right to tax transactions on military bases? The common answer would be that the military is serving the country, defending our freedom, etc. and these little tax breaks are the least we can do to repay their commitment to our freedom. However, in the eyes of the law, federal land is federal land, and neither can or should be taxed – California simply doesn’t have the authority.
Outside of the legal flaw, Schwarzenegger’s plan is based on the assumption that the native tribes owe us something, but what exactly do they owe? First, the land they have is a result of the United States evicting them from the lands they had for generations and shoving them onto reservations on which they lived in poverty for generations. Now, because of native gaming, the tribes have made enough revenue to support themselves and assist the community. In my hometown of San Diego, the local tribes have given hundreds of thousands of dollars to the Boys and Girls Club and to other organizations helping inner city youth. They are already willingly giving much more back to California than the huge corporations Schwarzenegger compares them to ever did. You could argue that the large corporations also bring jobs, but so do the casinos. If you don’t believe me, just go to a local casino, there are plenty of non-natives working there.
Like other notable historical figures, Schwarzenegger is simply blaming California’s economic troubles on an ethnic minority. The fact is California never gave a damn about native reservations when they were impoverished. Schwarzenegger looks at the native tribes and sees a gold mine: someone to implicate as a drain, and a place to get his hands on some extra revenue. This scapegoating of a minority is simply wrong, and to quote Arnold, “I don’t play that game.”
Ashley Doty is a sophomore law and society major.