In case you haven’t noticed, California is fast becoming a third world economy. Its government has ceased to provide basic services (its schools now rank 48th; its prisons were ordered to release more than 50,000 inmates because of inadequate healthcare). The Wall Street Journal editors explain:
The Golden State — which a decade ago was the booming technology capital of the world — has been done in by two decades of chronic overspending, overregulating and a hyperprogressive tax code that exaggerates the impact on state revenues of economic boom and bust. Total state expenditures have grown to $145 billion in 2008 from $104 billion in 2003 and California now has the worst credit rating in the nation — worse even than Louisiana’s. It also has the nation’s fourth highest unemployment rate of 9.3% (after Michigan, Rhode Island and South Carolina) and the second highest home foreclosure rate (after Nevada).
Governor Schwarzenegger is trying to bully the legislature into a package which includes $14B more in new taxes. That move, if it gets through, plus the general deterioration in the quality of life is likely to increase the outflow of people, and, with it, high earners and businesses whose revenue the state needs. In short, the state is a basket case.
Those in the other 49 should take note. This is what a high tax, overregulated, union dominated economy looks like. And in the information age it is increasingly easy to relocate businesses — to another state or another country. So as we look to the federal government it might be a good idea to keep the California experience front and center. Do we want to dramatically increase the size of government, pass volumes of new environmental and other regulations, pass card check to give unions an even greater influence in the economy, and ( if the Congressional Democrats have their way) raise taxes?
For decades now, we have seen that as goes California, so goes the nation. Let’s hope that is no longer true.