Dystopian California

September 10th, 2009

In his column today George Will does a good job of describing the dystopia* that has been created in California by years of progressive solutions to social problems and by politicians’ obeisance to unions.  Here’s what has resulted:

Having institutionalized envy in a steeply progressive income tax, California depends on 200,000 wealthy taxpayers for 25 percent of its revenue. The state ranks behind only liberal New York in the number of outward-bound moving vans. More people would flee if they could sell their homes. Between 1990 and 2007, the state lost 26 percent of its factory jobs and 35 percent of its high-tech manufacturing jobs. “Detroit, only with sunshine,” says Investor’s Business Daily.

They say everything happens first in California, and apparently that includes the slow creep toward socialism that’s inevitable when progressives consistently get their way (residents of a few other states, like New York, might take exception).  Many have predicted the outcomes; now we can see them.  I acknowledge this as a Democrat and a moderate liberal — any good thing can be taken too far.

However, I would also observe that some of California’s problems are a result of their zany approach to direct democracy.  Citizens of the state regularly vote to tax themselves like Republicans and service themselves like Democrats, and that never works very well.

Will continued:

California has the lowest debt rating of any state, the fourth-highest unemployment rate (11.9 percent) and its job growth rate since 2000 is almost 20 percent below the national average. Some county and state public safety employees retire at 50 receiving at least 90 percent of their final year’s pay, forever. Taxpayers pour more than $3 billion a year into state employee pension funds, 10 times more than they did 10 years ago, and still there are large unfunded liabilities for which taxpayers are liable. More than 5,000 retired state employees’ annual pensions exceed $100,000. If public employees did not begin drawing pensions until age 65, California would save half a trillion dollars through 2030.

Between 1997 and 2007, the state workforce, including public school employees, grew 24 percent, to almost 900,000. Government spending has grown 40 percent faster under Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger than under his Democratic predecessor. Since 2005, state spending has increased twice as fast as inflation and population. Democrats blocked allowing parents to enroll their children online in state health programs because it might have endangered unionized clerical jobs. As the state prepares to release tens of thousands of felons from prison to comply with a court order and help balance the budget (in 2002, prison guards received a 37 percent raise), it has 19,000 illegal immigrants incarcerated.

*Don’t feel bad; I had to look it up, too.  Dystopia: a society characterized by human misery, as squalor, oppression, disease, and overcrowding.


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9 Responses to “Dystopian California”



  1. Lisa |

    Since everything happens first in CA, I think Arnold S. should tax the heck out of the left leaning Hollywood types who voted for Barack Obama and then spread their wealth throughout the state. Then Arnold should direct that these same people hire the prisoners as their gardeners, maids and chauffeurs. That way Hollywood can be the first to see what socialism is really all about.


  2. doris |

    Did you forget Arnold is a Republican?Left leaning Hollywood types are already being taxed the heck out of,they are the wealthy and pay most of the taxes,as you Right people keep on telling me.Hey what’s wrong with hiring prisoners to work for you-there will be a guard with them,as they are prisoners.I’ve been told they work pretty hard and don’t charge much and if they act up-bop,a guard corrects them,sounds better than hiring illegals to maybe kill you[no guard included in the price].


  3. Tom |

    The prisoners referred to are being released from prison because of a court order to reduce overcrowding. That’s clear in the report.


  4. Brian Bagent |

    Tom, there are only two ways to deal with people: force or persuasion – reasoned debate or the barrel of a gun. The way of progressivism is ultimately about force, not about persuasion. Without exception, it boils down to “do as I say, or else…” In the end, it reduces us to chattel.

    Socialism, in all its flavors, results in fiscally irresponsible behavior because it tends to cultivate the idea that something can be had for nothing. The first law of economics is that all things, be they commodities or services, come with a price. This law is as immutable as gravity, and socialism seems to pretend that it doesn’t exist.

    Wealth doesn’t exist in some vacuum, it exists because capital has been put to productive use to create goods and services that people want to buy. When permitted, wealth will snowball. Microsoft is an excellent example – Gates and Balmer started with nothing but an idea. Through their efforts, people that never even worked for MS were able to obtain employment and start businesses that paid very well.

    Productivity seems to me to be synergistic – the more productive I am, the more it enables others to be productive as well. Government is the antithesis of productivity – it is deliberative, inefficient, painfully slow, reactive. Those are good things for government to be, for governments that do things in haste tend to be despotic.

    One of the greatest fallacies of socialism is that government can encourage people to do “the right thing.” No government is any more able to encourage “the right thing” than it is of discouraging the wrong thing. It can and certainly does punish people for doing the wrong thing, but have we come so far to believe that it should penalize people for not doing “the right thing”?

    Is it not the essence of freedom to decide for ourselves what is good and proper?


  5. doris |

    I believe, there are alot of people who either don’t know what is good and proper or don’t care,most people are not basically good and noble,I fear.Well,Tom,someone has to hire them,or will they be bums?No guard,is not a good thing,we know these guys are mostly not good and noble.


  6. Brian Bagent |

    Doris, most people are good, not perfect, but certainly good. Every day, 99% of the population chooses not to rob, to burglarize, to rape, to murder, to steal. They avoid those things not because those things are illegal, but because those things are WRONG. Civilization doesn’t require everyone to always do the right thing, merely for a majority to not do the wrong thing. I cannot think of a single society on earth that doesn’t at least pay lip service to the notion that those things are wrong. A government may rob, rape, and pillage if it has the power to do so, but you can bet that the common man will have to deal with the consequences of engaging in that sort of behavior.

    Is it your position, then, that we ought not be free?


  7. doris |

    Of course not,but,methinks,most would rob and steal,maybe more if not for laws.Most would certainly do drugs,if not for laws,I think the moral,righteous ones are in the minority.I think we need laws to make the unrighteous,more aware of the consequences of being their true selves,God thought so,too.10 comandments,the Bible?We should be free,but the law is to protect the freedom of all of us,not just the mighty and strongest.In the moral minority,I think.


  8. Brian |

    Would you do drugs if not for the law? Would you rob and steal if not for the law? If you wouldn’t, why would you assume that a larger number of people would than already do? Some might, but that’s not for either one of us to say for certain, and it certainly is no reason to curtail the freedoms of those like you or me that absolutely wouldn’t.


  9. doris |

    I don’t feel my freedom is curtailed,I mostly do what I please.
    I have lived alot of places and known alot of people,some good,most,not so good.Most people I know would do drugs,if legal,don’t most drink?Most people,in my opinion,do steal from someone,maybe a store,maybe an employer,maybe a friend,but certainly,in my experienced opinion, alot of people, would steal more,and maybe from you and me,if not for law.Believe me,I don’t run in bad circles and have seen even the well off steal a roll of toilet tissue, from a building and a bunch of “good” people steal from their employers.I am truly amazed at how corrupt and low people are.I believe a person would be dreaming to believe most are honest and noble,from one who has seen it and been taken advantage of too many times.You are fortunate to still believe in the good of man.I believe in truth and morality in all situations,but I don’t see alot of that reflected back at me.


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