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Al Jazeera’s Fault Lines: California is in crisis. The state is $24bn short of balancing its books this year – and it may run out of cash to pay its bills in a matter of weeks.
It is a local story with global implications. California’s economy is the largest in the US and the eighth largest in the world – as big as Brazil and three times the size of Saudi Arabia.
If California fails, the shock waves of this economic crisis will be felt around the globe.
Enter the Hollywood action hero. In his final year as governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger has a radical plan.
He is trying to balance the budget entirely by slashing government spending – mostly programmes for the poor.
Millions of Californians would lose welfare and health care benefits, thousands of teachers and state workers would be fired. State prisoners would be dumped into county jails.
Avi Lewis travels to South Central Los Angeles to learn about the political causes and the human impact of shock therapy, California style – and gets a glimpse of how the next chapter of the global economic crisis is likely to unfold.