California Screaming

Accompanied by a number of pie charts and bar graphs, Doug Ross writes, "Democrats have controlled California for over two decades. Their policies have transformed a beautiful, industrious state into a monumental catastrophe." He adds, "California is an ominous preview into America's future. Perhaps an enterprising progressive (or is that an oxymoron?) could explain why we should follow the Obama-Pelosi-Reid brain-trust into certain oblivion."

Which is why Meredith Turney of Town Hall dubs it "The Ungovernable State":

What makes a state ungovernable? Something that is ungovernable cannot be controlled; it is ruled by chaos. Ungovernability is also characterized by lawlessness—ironic, considering California is swimming in the red tape and over-regulation of too many laws. However, in California chaos and lawlessness are not found amongst the people, but amongst those who are supposed to order society through lawmaking. The chaos is at the top, in the government itself. From petulant legislative leaders boycotting budget negotiations, to committee hearings in which legislators bicker about cow tail docking, to the state’s chief fiscal accountability officer spending millions on office furniture during the budget crisis, disorder is rampant in Sacramento.

Such chaos is the hallmark of a bureaucratic state. Bureaucracy by its very nature is ungovernable because its end goal is to preserve itself and constantly grow. Under Arnold Schwarzenegger, California’s spending has increased by over 32 percent. Yet Schwarzenegger came to office during a recall of his predecessor for spending too much. Instead, California’s spending has increased from $78 billion in 2004 to $103 billion in 2009. The leviathan’s appetite increases every year, and now with alarming capacity.

Amid the arguments over which programs to cut or what taxes to raise, there is an underlying, fundamental issue that only the honest and courageous will address head-on. California—and Washington, DC—has become ungovernable because there is a war being waged between two ideologies. One seeks to preserve the freest form of government in history; the other seeks to abolish that freedom. There can be no compromise in a war, only retreat.

California isn't ungovernable, but its sheer size helps to reinforce the need for limited government. A government that did the things that state governments were originally created to do -- you know, secure the borders, enforce laws, build and maintain roads, ensure domestic tranquility and otherwise mind their own business, to borrow from Silent Cal (Coolidge, not Sacramento!) -- could govern extremely well here. And for a time did so reasonably well, which is why California still has some historical cache, particularly amongst the original blue states in Europe. But the epic bloat that defines Sacramento, whose politicians wake up each day wondering what they can ban or tax next has made the state ungovernable as its passes this key tipping point.

Further thoughts from Allen Barton and Matt Welch at PJTV.