Excellent piece in the American Thinker from Claude Sandroff, a California resident, on the depressing status of the Golden State.
Only raw and unrestrained liberalism could have destroyed the world’s 8th-largest economy. Boasting unparalleled assets in agriculture, high technology, entertainment, and tourism, and blessed with ample energy resources, deep-water ports and ideal weather, California has nonetheless managed to turn itself into a perfect dystopia.
California’s governor offered this in his last State of the State message: “We need to work with the feds so that we can fix the flawed formula that demands that states spend money they do not have.” Certainly that’s a good start from Schwarzenegger, who only recently, as part of a degrading suck-up routine, graded Obama’s performance as president with an A. But pointing to the federal government’s brazen overreach doesn’t address California’s true malady: a self-inflicted, endless orgy of failed leftist policies and programs enacted under one-party legislative rule.
The litany of problems is well-known and oft-cited. We Californians are overtaxed, our state workers are too numerous and coddled, our businesses are overregulated, and our environmentalists are too radical and powerful.
And the list goes on. We tolerate nearly three million illegal residents draining us of $10 billion annually — enough to pay down half of our deficit through this and the next fiscal year. The educational system is dysfunctional and expensive, while our infrastructure is adequate for the third world — not 40 million modern consumers growing to 50 million by mid-century. Our energies are diluted by frequent and incomprehensible voter propositions that often focus on divisive social agendas (gay marriage) or are driven by well-funded special interests (stem-cell research).
California is in an exciting race to the bottom with other liberal bastions like New York and New Jersey to see who can best tax its citizens and businesses into oblivion. But California’s stunning fall to mediocrity is alarming because it had to do so much wrong for so long to neuter so much of its enormous potential.
California, on the brink of a violent demise, must choose among three fates: rescue, restructure, or failure. Of these, a rescue by the rest of the country would be the most disastrous. If U.S. taxpayers from the other 49 states were forced to save California — using the same broken logic that “saved” Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, and AIG, because they too were too big to fail — the very notion of a republic with sovereign states would dissolve before our eyes. California would suffer few painful consequences from its liberal mismanagement, while every other state would calculate how large its own rewards could be for mismanaging its own economy. And the fifty states would devolve into nothing but geographical boundaries, like counties within a state.
The kinds of policies that could save California are easy to formulate: Reduce the state government by 30% by permanently eliminating (not furloughing) state workers; eliminate the personal income tax; provide any new business that stays in the state for ten years with a corporate tax moratorium; abandon threats of a carbon tax and open the state to aggressive (not unregulated) offshore and onshore drilling; cut welfare rolls to reflect the 16% share of the U.S. population residing in the state; establish a constitutional amendment limiting increases in state spending to population growth plus inflation; eliminate all benefits to illegals.
But if we Californians refuse to establish a rational economic order, then let us fail, whatever that might mean for our bond rating or reputation. And learn from our mistakes by not following our irresponsible descent into fiscal hell.