California is ailing. Our unemployment rate is the third highest in the nation. We have lost approximately 600,000 jobs just since Democrats returned to power in Washington. Our state budget is in the red. State public employee pensions threaten to push us toward insolvency. Storefronts sits vacant on once-thriving commercial thoroughfares. The Golden State has lost its luster.
And yet, we had an election where the main issues had little to do with the state’s fiscal health and very much to do with the Republican gubernatorial nominee’s personal wealth and touchy temperament. In short, the issues of the recent campaign had nothing to do with the problems facing California.
When my father this morning called to express incredulity that the state could return Jerry Brown to the Governor’s mansion, I said it was like a homeowner with a leaky roof on a house where he could barely afford the mortgage payments hiring a contractor to build a new veranda. Perhaps, the better analogy would have been to say that instead of talking about a new veranda, he was intent on hiring a green landscaper.
Brown talked about “green jobs” while the various candidates for statewide office ran on promises of promoting pro-environmental policies. Should the legislature follow through on these promises , expect to see increasing numbers of businesses flee the state while those that remain will have to devote more resources to meeting state environmental mandates and fewer to increasing their operations, thus not able to create new jobs for out-of-work Californians or generate more revenue for the state’s increasingly depleted coffers.
California’s problems today aren’t an absence of so-called “green” policies, but an excess of them and, as Monty put it on Ace of Spades:
California’s most dire problems right now are related to public-employee obligations (pensions and healthcare). The power of public-employee unions in California have held the State and local governments in thrall for years, and with the election of Jerry Brown as Governor, the people of California have opted to spray kerosene on a blaze that was already threatening to overwhelm them.
With the passage of Prop. 25 as well as last night’s election returns, California Democrats, as Monty put it, “get to own the mess they made in the first place.” Let’s hope that, in future elections, people hold them accountable.
NB: In the original version of this post, I had incorrectly said that California’s unemployment was the highest in the nation. It’s actually the third highest. Since fixed.