Sunday, May 3, 2009

Socialist Laboratories

I have long maintained that the UK is a laboratory for the ills of socialism when it is is integrated into a Western democracy. George Will, today, identifies a second - California.

This from George Will, noting the descent of California into a heavilly unionized, grossly overspent and over-taxed leftist . . . well, 'utopia' would not be the right word:

. . . National economic revival is being impeded because one-eighth of the nation's population lives in a state that is driving itself into permanent stagnation. California's perennial boast -- that it is the incubator of America's future -- now has an increasingly dark urgency.

Under Arnold Schwarzenegger, the best governor the states contiguous to California have ever had, people and businesses have been relocating in those states. For four consecutive years, more Americans have moved out of California than have moved in. California's business costs are more than 20 percent higher than the average state's. In the last decade, net out-migration of Americans has been 1.4 million. California is exporting talent while importing Mexico's poverty. The latter is not California's fault; the former is.

If, since 1990, state spending increases had been held to the inflation rate plus population growth, the state would have a $15 billion surplus instead of a $42 billion budget deficit, which is larger than the budgets of all but 10 states. Since 1990, the number of state employees has increased by more than a third. In Schwarzenegger's less than six years as governor, per capita government spending, adjusted for inflation, has increased nearly 20 percent.

Liberal orthodoxy has made the state dependent on a volatile source of revenues -- high income tax rates on the wealthy. In 2006, the top 1 percent of earners paid 48 percent of the income taxes. California's income and sales taxes are among the nation's highest, its business conditions among the worst, as measured by 16 variables directly influenced by the Legislature. Unemployment, the nation's fourth highest, is 11.2 percent.

. . . Flinching from serious budget cutting, and from confronting public employees unions, some Californians focus on process questions. They devise candidate-selection rules designed to diminish the role of parties, thereby supposedly making more likely the election of "moderates" amenable to even more tax increases.

But what actually ails California is centrist evasions. The state's crisis has been caused by "moderation," understood as splitting the difference between extreme liberalism and hyperliberalism, a "reasonableness" that merely moderates the speed at which the ever-expanding public sector suffocates the private sector.

California has become liberalism's laboratory, in which the case for fiscal conservatism is being confirmed. The state is a slow learner and hence will remain a drag on the nation's economy. But it will be a net benefit to the nation if the federal government and other state governments profit from California's negative example . . .

Read the entire article.

1 comment:

suek said...

"The latter is not California's fault; the former is."

I disagree with least part of the former (population moving out of the state) is due to the latter (influx of poor Mexicans). Because the state has been totally sympathetic to illegals, and unwilling to enforce the law, along with insisting that benefits of extensive social services be extended to those who are illegal, the costs to the state on a perennial basis just about equal the budget deficit.

Many of the illegals do contribute to the economy - but the drain on the budget outweighs the benefits, and results in the policies and taxes that cause those who contribute a net value to the state to move out.

I wish I had a solution. Many of the hard working Mexicans are potentially outstanding citizens - we should welcome them. On the other hand, many are just leeches - there's no way to distinguish one from the other, other than jail records and maybe social services costs. There are those who consider any effort to separate the sheep from the goats as racist - even though the differentiation is within a race. (is Mexican a race? a different question!)