Ed Driscoll

Bell-Bottom Blue State Blues

My fellow Pajamas Express blogger and all-around Vodkapundit of good cheer Steve Green quotes London Timesman Chris Ayres, apparently astonished at California’s fiscal woes:

This is a state whose money comes from the most bankable economic assets on Earth – the Long Beach ports, the Central Valley agricultural region, the defence contractors out in the Mojave desert, Silicon Valley, Napa Valley… Hollywood. How do you tax all this and end up amassing debts at the present rate of $1.7 million per hour?

Steve writes that it’s astonishingly…

Easy. Let Californians run the place.

Right. Into. The ground.

And it’s certainly not a recent development; though the ride to financial armegeddon appears to be accelerating. In 2003, Ann Coulter provided a bracing snapshot of her own, of the state’s leviathan governmental woes, which she described (foreshadowing today’s Orwellian “stimulus” package) as “a perfect petri dish of Democratic policies”:

This is what happens when you let Democrats govern: You get a state — or as it’s now known, a “job-free zone” — with a $38 billion deficit, which is larger than the budgets of 48 states. There are reports that Argentina and the Congo are sending their fiscal policy experts to Sacramento to help stabilize the situation. California’s credit rating has been slashed to junk bond status, and citizens are advised to stock up for the not-too-far-off day when cigarettes and Botox become the hard currency of choice. At this stage, we couldn’t give California back to Mexico.

Democrats governed their petri dish as they always govern. They buy the votes of government workers with taxpayer-funded jobs, salaries and benefits — and then turn around and accuse the productive class of “greed” for wanting their taxes cut. This has worked so well nationally that more people in America now work for the government than work in any sort of manufacturing job.

Strictly adhering to formula in California, as the private sector was bleeding jobs and money, Gov. Davis signed off on comically generous pensions for government workers. Government employees in the Golden State earn more than the private sector workers who pay their salaries — and that’s excluding the job security, health benefits and 90 percent pension plans that come with “Irish welfare,” as government jobs used to be called.

Economists refer to this backward ratio between public and private sector salaries as “France.” (Inasmuch as they are paid more and work less than private sector employees, perhaps we could ease up on treating public schoolteachers like Mother Teresa washing the feet of the poor in Calcutta.) The public sector unions repaid Davis with massive contributions to his re-election campaign.Davis bought himself re-election and is now the most hated officeholder in America.

Thus setting the stage for the now feckless reign of the (very) nominally Republican Gov. Schwarzenegger. His movie characters may be tough as nails, but Sacramento has been one real-life beast that Arnold simply can’t kill. And with the latest round of budget disasters there, Ed Morrissey writes, “Let the recriminations begin.”

Update: “Viva Californication!”

More: The Wall Street Journal (subscription required) reports “Employment Falls in Silicon Valley.” That should make Jerry Brown pretty happy–maybe even Arnold.