Special, and Shaky, Effects

California's politicians cope with the $1.5 billion deficit

Californians might have had some trouble last week judging which of two rehearsals for catastrophe represented the more realistic bit of make-believe. The show staged by the Los Angeles fire department to simulate a downtown earthquake boasted the more vivid special effects: smoke from exploding cars billowing over a storefront set; moans from people "dying" in the street. The production put on by the politicians in Sacramento was more muted, but it concerned a calamity, state bankruptcy, that was more certifiably imminent—even as soon as next week.

Unless Republican Governor George Deukmejian and the Democratic-controlled...

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