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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

California: We're #50! We're #50!

Eureka! We've learned that California is the worst state in the nation for the second year in a row! Yeah! What pride we Californians must take in this news.

Or not.

As a former longtime resident of the formerly Golden State, I take no pleasure in this. As a former denizen of the "Belly of the Beast," as my friend Eric Hogue puts it, i.e., the Capitol, however, I do take a certain devilish delight in the ranking, only because it gives me what I think is a well-deserved right to say, "I told you so." The quacked thing is that the voters not only keep voting for the status quo, but they made the situation worse by giving the governor and co-partisans in the Legislature super majorities. California used to be a great place to live. Now? I'm glad I escaped, and I use the word "escaped" advisedly.

A big part of this last ranking is not mentioned: California's cost of living. Try finding a reasonably priced two or three bedroom apartment in a major metropolitan center that isn't in a bad part of town. Look at gas prices. Look at taxes (even with Prop. 13). And then look at the regulatory climate. It's insane.

I worked in the Capitol for seven years, and we minority staffers would just shake our heads in disbelief at what the majority was allowing to happen. Of course, it could be that all the majority's legislators were almost exclusively class warfare ideologues (I hate to put it that way, but it's true).They were union activists and lawyers or career pols or all of the above. I can only remember one being a businessman, former Assemblyman John Dutra.

In other words, they had no real world conception of the burden their onerous laws placed on the ability of the economy to continue creating the kinds of jobs needed to keep up with their ever burgeoning social spending. When the coffers ran dry after the Internet bust -- and they were always bone dry -- the class warfare types' answer was to raise taxes on the rich. Never mind that the super rich could easily move to Nevada and commute into their LA or San Francisco places of employment (as a good number do).

They never did raise taxes because they could never get the 2/3 majority they needed to do so as there were still enough GOP legislators there to make a difference. But now, with the loss of the GOP bullwark in the Legislature during the last election? All bets are off. You have Gov. Jerry "Moonbeam" Brown, the most liberal governor California has ever had (didn't people learn their lesson during the '70s and '80s?), and a legislature controlled by San Francisco and Los Angeles liberals with no real understanding of how economies work and with no real world business experience. None have ever had to meet a payroll, etc.

My bet is that next year, California will be no. 51 (and I know there are only 50 states, but that is how bad things will be still, if not much, much worse). I take no pleasure in saying this. It makes me sad. But Californians have made their bed. That it continues to do as well economically as it does is a miracle and a testimony to the resilience and ingenuity of American businesses.

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