|The Sad State of the State of California|
|In The News|
|Friday, 18 February 2011 16:14|
By S. Fred Singer - American Thinker
Many must be wondering whether the state of California is beyond repair. This is particularly true after the November 2010 elections when its citizens voted for the same politicians that have brought them the same failed policies. As deficits mount and taxes increase, productive people and enterprises are leaving California for more hospitable states. Inevitably, there will be a tipping point when the state divides between a large welfare population that controls the vote and the rich who live in gated communities but whose tax revenues cannot support the state's obligations.
Good indicators of the outward migration are the prices of U-Haul vehicles. To rent a 26-foot truck one-way from San Francisco to Austin costs $3236, and yet the one-way charge for that same truck from Austin to San Francisco is just $399. Even so, U-Haul has to pay its employees to drive the empty trucks back from Texas.
According to CEI, California is a state where public employees have three times the pension benefits of private employees and 20% higher pay, in addition to secure jobs. This becomes quite evident when one looks at the salaries paid to California's university administrators, where deans can make over $300,000 per year, according to the LA Times. Keep in mind also that the California education system is super-heavy with deans, provosts, and other administrators. Having served as a dean, I can vouch for the fact that deans are mostly paper-shufflers who have abandoned teaching and research.
It is not surprising that the politics of the UC faculty is heavily skewed. According to the LA Times, the ratio of political donations in 2008 to Democratic vs. Republican candidates was 800 to 1 for UC Berkeley -- and even higher for some of the smaller campuses.
Wrote Jack Pitney, a professor at Claremont McKenna College, on the National Review's blog. "California voters approved of President Obama's performance by a 10-point margin, whereas the national electorate disapproved by nine points." "It's a different kind of state," he said. That may be the understatement of 2010.
A large part of the state's Democratic tilt comes from its massive Latino population, who voted for Democrats two to one. The Los Angeles Times noted that it made up 22% of the voting pool, "a record tally that mortally wounded many Republicans."
How bad has it gotten in the erstwhile Golden State? According to Investor's Business Daily:
California is rapidly approaching bankruptcy, a new experience for states, with New York and Illinois not far behind. According to the Wall Street Journal (Nov 8, 2010), California has $70 billion of general obligation debt -- and that does not include the $500 billion unfunded pension liability. At some point, will it ask Congress for a bailout, and how likely is that with the new Republican majority?
Assistant editor of opinionjournal.com Allysia Finlay (a lapsed Californian who still wears Birkenstocks) writes:
Columnist George Will has a few choice things to say in a Dec 26, 2010 essay: "80 cents of every government dollar goes to government employees' pay and benefits." He cites an example: "A typical San Francisco resident with one dependent pays $953 a month for health care, while the typical city employee pays less than $10." He too warns against any kind of federal bailout.
William E. Simon Jr. relates in the online Wall Street Journal:
I have just returned from a lecture tour of the glamour spots of Southern California: Pasadena, Bel Air, Newport Beach, La Jolla. But there is also the other side: Victor Davis Hanson, who grew up on a farm near Fresno, describes the problems in California's rural heartland, which is beginning to look more and more like a Third World slum in National Review-online 2010:
In a letter to his children, Hanson suggests they prepare themselves for leaving California:
On top of all this, California suffers from the activities and malfeasance of CARB, the California Air Resources Board, run by Mary Nichols, a former assistant EPA administrator in Washington. Further, the unelected CARB governing board is democratically unaccountable. CARB has worked to impose a cap-and-trade program for CO2 emissions, a tighter set of automobile efficiency standards, and to top it off, a renewable electricity standard requiring utilities to purchase 20% of their electric power from solar and wind by 2020. Any of these programs if enacted, would raise the cost of living, and would affect primarily low-income groups -- except that those groups are all covered by welfare programs. So guess who pays for all this?
In addition, CARB has conducted a vendetta against whistleblowers who have exposed fraud and cover up at CARB; it has pressured UCLA to fire environmental health sciences professor Dr. James Enstrom, who has worked there for 35 years. The specific dispute involves the CARB plan to impose an unreasonable pollution standard on Diesel exhausts, not backed by scientific evidence. It would also put out of business California's trucking industry, a major part of the state's economy. The CARB actions, and UCLA, have been criticized by California newspapers from San Diego to San Francisco.
The latest from CARB is their effort to impose a cap-and-trade policy that even the legislature has never been able to pass. Just last week, a San Francisco Supreme Court judge issued a ruling that would stop CARB from implementing its plan.
As Conn Carol recounts in Energy and Environment (Feb 7 2011), the plaintiff was a group called the Center on Race, Poverty, and the Environment. They object to any market-based system of pollution control, believing that industries will be able to pay for pollution allowances and thus keep emitting "dangerous" CO2.
California also boasts an energy commission, created by Jerry Brown during his first term as governor. Its lead website headline, as Schwarzenegger was leaving, was an FAQ about "new light bulb standards." Chuck DeVore, 2010 Republican candidate for the US Senate, writes:
S. Fred Singer is professor emeritus of environmental sciences at the University of Virginia. He lectured in California on energy policy and climate change. Page Printed from: http://www.americanthinker.com/2011/02/the_sad_state_of_the_state_of.html at February 18, 2011 - 06:15:13 PM CST