What are these people thinking? The Sacramento Bee reports today that the state government work force continues to grow – despite a supposed hiring freeze and budget shortfalls that are pushing the state to the brink of bankruptcy. A spokesman for Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger even claimed that a reduced rate of growth in the number of state employees proves what a great job the governor is doing. You can read his tortured logic here.

This is the problem, isn’t it? State government believes it lives in an alternative universe where it doesn’t matter what’s going on out there in that world where businesses are contracting, people are losing jobs, local agencies are imposing widespread layoffs and tax revenues are plummeting.

In state government’s view, its work is too important to be subject to economic reality. Is this attitude nurtured by isolation and by Sacramento’s inflated sense of its own importance? Sure, it is.

But whether it’s right or wrong, it’s unsustainable. State government can’t go its merry way while the people who are paying the bills have less.

Last week, the state’s ongoing budget deficit jumped another $8 billion. A government that thinks it shouldn’t have to sacrifice in hard times is bound to generate deficits – until the house of cards comes crashing down.