Golden State Mobius Loop
George Will writes, "California is driving itself into permanent stagnation. The state’s perennial boast — that it is the incubator of America’s future — now has an increasingly dark urgency."
It's a great column, and well worth reading, but in many ways, it's an update of this column from 2003 by Ann Coulter. Less snark (and no blue jeans allowed!), and the feckless governor now has a nominal (R) after his name instead of a (D), but the same out of control spending, top-down government control over the economy and small business, and the same population outflow from California to its neighboring states remain. "For four years, more Americans have moved out of California than have moved in", Will writes, dubbing Governor Schwarzenegger "the best governor the states next to California have ever had."
Unfortunately, as the more fiscally prudent of California's residents and businesses depart, the likely scenario, as is occurring in other blue states such as New York and New Jersey, is a reduction in the middle class households, and growing extremes of the very wealthy and very poor. (A particular problem in California thanks to its look-the-other-way mindset in regards to illegal immigration.)
I'd like to be wrong, but this doesn't look like a problem that will resolve itself soon, no matter who the next governor is, or what party he belongs to.
In 2003, Coulter wrote:
Far be it from me to tell Republicans to stop enjoying the Democrats' pain, but California is about to fall into the ocean.
Either Schwarzenegger will dismantle the government employees' Versailles Palace, or California will continue to be a laboratory for failed liberal policies.
Since he didn't, the result is what Will describes today. Expect a similar column from another Cassandra-esque conservative or libertarian pundit in a few years time.
Update: Welcome Stacy McCain readers -- In the comments below, Stace points to his own "California as economic basket case" post from February: "California: Zimbabwe, U.S.A." It's not that bad yet -- but Sacramento certainly has its collective (and collectivist) hots on for Z-Land.