October 9, 2012
WHAT WOULD A SECOND OBAMA TERM LOOK LIKE? Dysfunctional California points the way, Victor Davis Hanson writes at NRO today:
Shortly before taking office, Secretary Chu, remember, quipped that he would like to see American gas prices rise to European levels — presumably $9 or $10 a gallon — to discourage driving and thereby lower our carbon footprint. If $50 for half a fill-up is any indication, California is over halfway toward achieving Chu’s dream. If green bicycles are the ultimate aim of our central-planning regulators, then they are making headway. I’ve never seen so many new rural bike riders, though most of them out here in the San Joaquin Valley have a bad habit of riding on the wrong side of the road.
A refinery fire, a power outage, a uniquely Californian gasoline formula, years of regulating refineries into stasis — all that has finally caught up with the state, as prices soar at the pump. Yet what perplexes about California in extremis is the liberal ability for our state government simply to ignore its own regulations, which it has been using to paralyze businesses for years. For example, a panicked Governor Brown just asked the state air-resources board to suspend the law that requires gas stations to sell our special summer fuel formula through the month of October. The state asserted that a one-time suspension would increase supplies and yet not materially affect our air quality — which begs the question: Why, if that is true, would such a regulation have been passed in the first place?
California has the nation’s highest gas taxes and fuel prices, and the tightest supplies — and reputedly one of the worst-maintained infrastructures, with out-of-date, overcrowded, and poorly maintained freeways. When I head home each week from Palo Alto, I feel like an Odysseus fighting modern-day Lotus Eaters, Cyclopes, and Laestrygonians to reach Ithaka, wondering what obstacle will sidetrack me this trip — huge potholes, entire sections of the freeway reduced to one lane, or various poorly marked detours? If the nation’s highest gas taxes give us all that, what might the lowest bring?
California at least has its climate going for it; it’s the only thing saving it from this apocalyptic vision of a potential Obama second term.