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There’s always something to howl about

What’s wrong with California? Nothing anyone left in the state has the fortitude to fix. What’s the Golden State’s future? Ask Detroit.

From a lengthy diagnosis of everything that is wrong with California from The Claremont Institute:

Three of California’s last four governors, and six of its last nine, have been Republicans. The politicians who secured those victories immediately found it necessary to cooperate with a dominant opposition party; California is, in every other respect, a state that has been becoming more Democratic for as long as its oldest residents have been eligible to vote. California has not given its electoral votes to a Republican presidential candidate since 1988, or been represented in the U.S. Senate by a Republican since 1992. Of the 53 Californians in the U.S. House of Representatives, 34 are Democrats. In the past half-century, each of the two chambers of the state legislature has seen a Republican majority—once. The GOP’s state senate majority endured for two years, the one in the lower house for less than a single year.

The evidence is incontestable: the liberal strategy of waiting for the public’s anger to subside is far sounder than the conservative strategy of hoping it will gather strength. The liberal calculation rests on a shrewd assessment, not only of human psychology but also of modern mobility. California is not yet East Germany, which means that one of the ways Californians who are mad as hell can decide not to take it any more is by moving away. The Census Bureau shows that California, the state that used to be a magnet, has experienced negative "net domestic migration" since 1990. Between 1990 and 2007 some 3.4 million more Americans moved from California to one of the other 49 states than moved to California from another state.

States don’t conduct exit interviews, so there’s no way to tell how many ex-Californians left paradise because the taxes were too high, the public services too shoddy, and the unions too overbearing. Whatever the tally, one problem for conservatism in California is that the conservative critique of the state’s governance argues as strongly for flight as it does for fight. It is possible to advocate a national policy agenda by invoking patriotism, but "state-riotism" is a far weaker sentiment. Indeed, one could argue that the best way not to let California’s crisis go to waste is to let it run its course. As public employee unions assert ever more power over the affairs of a state that has steadily worsening economic and political prospects, opponents of unlimited government across the country and around the world can boil their arguments against taxes, regulation, and bureaucracy down to one rhetorical question: "Do we really want to run things here the way they do in California?"

If we could count on vice to be its own punishment, however, the world would have much less of it. When Rudy Giuliani became mayor of "ungovernable" New York City in 1994, he demonstrated that a successful commitment to limited but effective government is far more resonant than affirming that unlimited and ineffective government invariably fails. Some people once hoped Arnold Schwarzenegger would become California’s Giuliani. Regrettably, Schwarzenegger’s improbable ascent to the governor’s mansion in 2003, on the same day the incumbent Democratic governor lost a recall election, proved to be the only spectacular ending Schwarzenegger could deliver without a script and special effects. Other silver bullets, such as the nation’s strictest term limits for state legislators, have proven equally disappointing.

Spare your state a similar fate: Read the whole thing.

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  • 5 comments

    5 Comments so far

    1. Thomas Johnson December 27th, 2009 10:00 pm

      Speaking of Detroit, here is Mish Shedlock on Detroit:

      http://globaleconomicanalysis.blogspot.com/2009/12/michigan-forces-business-owners-into.html

      There is a great video inside this gem.

    2. Robert Worthington December 28th, 2009 6:47 pm

      Greg, I feel like every state is going Democratic minus Alaska and possible Texas. Either way I do feel that the parties need to stop spending money! Excellent job of comparing Detroit to California; yes I do see the same thing for California.

    3. James Boyer December 29th, 2009 9:18 am

      Greg, sound to much like the blame game to me. Blame all the problems on one group, even if it is the majority group, expressly for political gain. As George Bush and the Republicans showed us in the first 8 years of this decade, there is plenty of blame for economic problems that can be attached to the Republicans as well.

    4. Sam Chapman December 29th, 2009 10:04 am

      Exit interviews – I love it! Robert – Texas is still conservative, but give it time. I don’t like th etrend, but I can’t fix it.

    5. Greg Swann December 29th, 2009 12:05 pm

      > there is plenty of blame for economic problems that can be attached to the Republicans as well.

      I’m not taking sides. California is a one-party state. Even so, none of that matters. They are pursuing variations of the policies that killed the Rust Belt, and the outcome, ultimately, will be much the same. The one hope California can hold out is that the Feds are making the rest of the United States equally uninhabitable by entrepreneurs. If there is nowhere left to run, California can at least gloat that it is Starnesville with nicer weather. Yipee…