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Saturday, July 25, 2009

California's Problems

I used to be a resident of Huntington Beach, Orange County, California. All my adult life, until I moved to Lowell, Mass, I was a California Resident.

I voted in Huntington Beach, always by absentee ballot.  I learned to flying in Orange County, at an airport that no longer exists—turned to residential housing.  Before I was a resident of Huntington Beach I was a resident of Long Beach.  California was a wonderful, magical, place and I could have gotten my college degree for the costs of the books and the gas to drive to class.

In those days 1,000 people a day were leaving California and 3,000 were moving in.  It was the place to be.  No longer.  As Representative Tom McClintock notes, 2/3 of a million people net left California last year.

We may have to wait a hundred years to understand what happened in California.  However, by reading today's headlines we know that what is happening is not good. At this link is an article in The Orange County Register that talks to Representative McClintock's analysis of the situation.

Here is his summary of the situation:
To understand how these policies can utterly destroy an economy and bankrupt a government, you have to remember the Golden State in its Golden Age.

A generation ago, California spent about half what it does today AFTER adjusting for both inflation and population growth.
And yet, we had the finest highway system in the world and the finest public school system in the country. California offered a FREE university education to every Californian who wanted one. We produced water and electricity so cheaply that many communities didn’t bother to measure the stuff. Our unemployment rate consistently ran well below the national rate and its diversified economy was nearly recession-proof.
His analysis of the situation is summarized in this paragraph:
One thing – and one thing only – has changed in those years: public policy. The political Left gradually gained dominance over California’s government and has imposed a disastrous agenda of radical and retrograde policies that have destroyed the quality of life that Californians once took for granted.
His summary of the situation is correct.  He may be right or he may be wrong in his analysis of the problem.  However, the important point is that if he is correct, then we have to ask ourselves if we are headed for the same problem in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and in the nation as a whole.

We need a good, intelligent, debate on this question. 

It would be good for the nation if the several political parties started a serious dialogue about this.  There are a lot of issues to explore.  For example, with India and China on their way to being major economies and not showing any interest in Climate Change, what is the smart path for us, given that we are in a world with global economic competition?  What is the best way to overcome the competitive disadvantage we find ourselves in due to how we provide health insurance?  What is the smart future of infrastructure?

And, of course, it would be great to see people debate with facts and figures.

Good luck to us.

Regards  —  Cliff

  In some ways they already live with it every year, via flooding and devastating storms.
  When Europe produces an Airbus the cost of the workers' health insurance is borne by the taxpayers, thus giving them a legal subsidy.  On the other hand, a Boeing passenger jet includes the cost of the workers' health insurance in the price tag.
  If your normal response is "high speed rail" you need to update it to say, "real high speed rail, not what AMTRAK and Michael Dukakis are talking about."

1 comment:

kad barma said...

Republicrats and Demicans seem to me to both have the same problem with numbers. Put 'em in charge of a public budget and they can't think of anything else but what they would prefer to spend it on. For every failed lefty state, as you might argue is California, (I can't say, I haven't studied things there very closely), there's another example of Republican-dominated impoverishment that's just as disheartening. (As I'm fond of reminding Righties, the only Federal budget surplus in most American's lifetime was a Democratic administration, and, until now, the largest run-up of debt Republican, and there has to be some shared culpability for the mess we're now in, as the whole bailout farce/idea was Dubya's to begin with).

For my money, the only required application of the word "conservative" should relate to our public treasury. (All hail flat taxers and enlightened fiscal leaders from both sides like Jerry Brown and Ron Paul). No amount of argument will convince me that there's one political party or philosophy which succeeds at this over another. It's the individual that matter here.