Friday, November 08, 2019

“As California goes, so goes the nation.” Is that still true?

Not so long ago, California was “the” place to be. Known as “The Golden State,” it has beautiful topography, with the ocean, cliffs, lakes, mountains and forests, and generally nice, warm weather that lured those from other states to visit, and even to relocate. Many special attractions add to the state’s allure.

The state’s openness to, and propensity for novel ideas on government and other things led to the creation of phrase “As California goes, so goes the nation.”

Today, California is only a dark shadow of its former self. The natural beauty is still there, many of the other attractions remain, but the state has lost much of its charm and allure.

In certain areas it is very expensive to live, and that situation has not been improving of late. AMAC Magazine tells us that “In 1970, Californians spent three times their salary on a home.” That cost/earnings ratio has risen to 10 times salary. 

This and other factors drove a million residents to other states between 2007 and 2016. “The online survey, conducted [in January] by Edelman Intelligence, found that 53 percent of Californians surveyed are considering fleeing, representing a jump over the 49 percent polled a year ago,” as reported by CNBC. 

Taxes add to the discomfort. In some locations the state sales tax is worsened by local sales taxes, and the total tax averages out to 8.54 percent for people in those locations, one of the highest in the country. The 18-cents per-gallon gasoline tax makes things even worse.

The state has become very difficult for middle income earners, who can’t afford to live there comfortably anymore. 

As a result of high taxes and aggressive regulation, businesses now do studies to see if it makes economic sense for them to expand in California, or expand elsewhere, or to totally move from the state.

California’s “sanctuary state” status puts unneeded stress on social welfare programs and public education, both of which are funded by taxes. And, the homeless population is out of control.  

“In 2018, there were 129,972 people on the streets on any given night statewide,” as reported by the Los Angeles Times back in August. “The most recent count conducted in Los Angeles County revealed that there were nearly 59,000 homeless people in 2019, while there were 9,784 homeless people in San Francisco, including in jails, hospitals and rehab centers — a jump of 30 percent from 2017.”

And recently the state has been suffering from the annual wildfire season. Each year hundreds of thousands of acres of land and dozens of buildings are lost to these fires, and the lives of thousands of residents are turned upside-down, and some die. And things are getting worse each year.

Many people place blame on climate change, not only for the worsening degree of the fires each year, but for their origin. Democrat California Gov. Gavin Newsom, his predecessor, Jerry Brown, and many Newsom political allies claim climate change is driving California’s increasingly intense and deadly wildfires.

While natural circumstances contribute to the problem, most of the fires are started not by nature, but by the actions of people, about 84 percent of them, according to Vox.

Such things as a tree limb contacting a power line. Sparks from a trailer wheel rim with no tire on it produced sparks that caused one fire. Another was deliberately set by an arsonist. And so on.

Some sources say that the degree to which climate change contributes to the fire problem is directly related to the intensity of climate change assumptions that drive the state’s energy and environmental policies. 

“For instance, California’s large and heavily regulated public utilities — PG&E, SDG&E, and SCE — prioritize wind and solar power, leaving little for powerline maintenance and upgrades,” Chuck Devore wrote in The Federalist. “Simply put, the utilities are doing exactly what the regulators tell them to do. They make money for their investors on wind and solar; they don’t on powerline maintenance.”

And a 2015 Reason Foundation study noted: “While it is possible that climate change has played a role in increasing the size of fires, the primary cause seems to be forest management practices, which have changed several times over the course of the past 200 years.”

Failure to harvest timber and manage the downed trees that proliferate in wooded areas and fuel the fires has greatly increased the likelihood, and also the intensity of fires. The policies that limit forest management often are decisions by government to protect wildlife.

No one can argue that California does not have many problems, some very serious. But elected representatives have made scant progress, if any, toward solving the worst of them.

It is a fact that the state government and many/most local governments are and have been under Democrat control for a while. With the hard-left leanings of the current potential Democrat nominees for president, a Democrat president could be a real danger to the country, championing higher taxes and regressive policies such as those in The Golden State.

If it is still true that “As California goes, so goes the nation,” America is in deep trouble.

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