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Ed Driscoll

Smoke and Mirrors Take on a Whole New Meaning in California

August 19th, 2014 - 1:02 pm

“Bear Flag State Turns Bearish,” Steve Green writes, linking to a column on the formerly golden state at Investor’s Business Daily. Of course, for those of who still live here, our first thought is, “Turns?”

his time last year, liberals around the country were trumpeting the big fiscal comeback of the Golden State in the wake of Jerry Brown’s giant tax increase — Proposition 30.

That initiative was passed by voters on Nov. 6, 2012, and it raised the personal income-tax rate on taxpayers making over $250,000 for singles and $500,000 for married couples to as high as 13% — which is the heaviest tax penalty on working and investing in the nation outside of New York City.

What was especially devious is that the tax hit was made retroactive to January 2012. Sacramento was so desperate for money that nobody seemed to mind this after-the fact taxation is really a form of confiscation.

In the short term, it worked and revenues climbed a whopping 21% because California’s top 2% had to pay taxes twice in 2013 — once on their current-year income and a supplemental check to pay for the retroactive tax on income from the year before.

As Steve adds, “So it turns out that ‘California Comeback’ was based on smoke and mirrors.” I wouldn’t recommend smoking whatever Jerry Brown’s sycophants are puffing (just ask Maureen Dowd) and those mirrors can be be deadly:

Workers at a state-of-the-art solar plant in the Mojave Desert have a name for birds that fly through the plant’s concentrated sun rays — “streamers,” for the smoke plume that comes from birds that ignite in midair

Federal wildlife investigators who visited the BrightSource Energy plant last year and watched as birds burned and fell, reporting an average of one “streamer” every two minutes, are urging California officials to halt the operator’s application to build a still-bigger version.

And thus, the radical environmental left comes full circle:

Wasn’t it obvious that when Al Gore titled one of his books “The Assault on Reason,” he meant it as a how-to guide?

And finally, in other news from the socialist state, at City Journal, Rory Cohen writes, that Los Angeles’ “infrastructure crumbles as public-employee compensation balloons.” But then, that describes much of the rest of California as well, which has some of the worst roads — even NPR admits it — and the most graffiti in the nation.

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New York's been doing the liberal spend-your-way-to-near-collapse thing far longer than California, and has survived because, periodically since about 1905, the city's voters pull their progressive heads out of their netherreaches, realize whats about to happen and vote in sane officials.

And once the problems are solved, of course, they completely forget who caused them in the first place and vote in the next generation of progressive loons.

But voters in other cities are like the lab mice that keep pushing the button for more cocaine until they die, Detroit being the most obvious example of a city that simply keeps voting the same people in until they plow themselves into the ground.

So California has two directions it can go, and a lot of it is riding on how hooked the voters are to the big government pipeline that they no longer care about the overall state of the state, as long as their personal benefits keep flowing (and liberals in California may have the same mindset liberals in mid-1970s New York had, that no matter what fiscally irresponsible things they did, they're too big and important to fail, and the feds will come and bail them out. Which New York didn't get, but was then able to rely on the state to fix things up -- California doesn't have that luxury and it's doubtful given the current national mood, voters in the other 49 states will be OK with their reps and senators giving the Golden State an unlimited credit card to be paid off by Washington).
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