Ed Driscoll

Hasta La Vista, Handicapper General Schwarzenegger

I’m not sure if he intended it this way, but there’s a moment in Joel Kotkin’s new article on the last days of Gov. Schwarzenegger’s failed administration that sums up everything about the modern left — or at least the Green Supremacist left — in a single paragraph. It’s the last one quoted here:

Of course, apologists point out, quite correctly, that many signature corporations are keeping their headquarters in the Golden State–after all not many CEOs are anxious  to leave the climatically blessed environs of Atherton, Palo Alto, San Diego or West Los Angeles for a new life in  Salt Lake, Shanghai or even Austin.  But these same CEOs are shifting manufacturing, tech support and. increasingly. research at a rapid clip to places with lower taxes, more accommodating business climates and a better chance for the non-filty-rich to live a good life.

This slow but steady leakage is draining the state economy. California’s share of the nation’s jobs and national income continues to drop.  In the last seven years, California has underperformed the nation in generating both middle-income and tech-oriented jobs. Unemployment has remained two points or more higher than the national average.

The draconian greenhouse gas reductions now proudly touted by Schwarzenegger could make this worse. If the nation was following similar regulations, something conceivable prior to the November elections, the pain may have been more equally shared and an aggressive stategy aimed at “green” industries could more likely have proved  a decent bet. Now companies in California and a handful of other similarly minded states simply will have to cope with regulatory overkill and much higher energy costs against  competitors domestically and around the world.

I love that phrase, “If the nation was following similar regulations,” which simultaneously junks federalism, while recalling Frank Burns’ classic “Individuality is fine if we all do it together” malapropism from the earlier, funnier days of TV’s M*A*S*H, the Gleichschaltung, and Kurt Vonnegut’s “Harrison Bergeron” short story, which Wikipedia describes thusly:

In the story, social equality has been achieved by handicapping the more intelligent, athletic or beautiful members of society. For example, strength is handicapped by the requirement to carry weight, beauty by the requirement to wear a mask and so on. This is due to the 211th, 212th, and 213th amendments to the United States Constitution. This process is central to the society, designed so that no one will feel inferior to anyone else. Handicapping is overseen by the United States Handicapper General, Diana Moon Glampers.

While some New England states have banded together to similarly kneecap industrial production, fortunately others, such as Texas haven’t — and are thus reaping a jobs whirlwind:

In contrast, Sacramento has other priorities, which are transforming the rest of the state with consequences that a green supremacist could never foresee. Or as Victor Davis Hanson writes, there are Two Californias, one of which is fancies itself as the EU with better sushi, the other is fast becoming the equivalent of a Third World nation:

Here are some general observations about what I saw (other than that the rural roads of California are fast turning into rubble, poorly maintained and reverting to what I remember seeing long ago in the rural South). First, remember that these areas are the ground zero, so to speak, of 20 years of illegal immigration. There has been a general depression in farming — to such an extent that the 20- to-100-acre tree and vine farmer, the erstwhile backbone of the old rural California, for all practical purposes has ceased to exist.

On the western side of the Central Valley, the effects of arbitrary cutoffs in federal irrigation water have idled tens of thousands of acres of prime agricultural land, leaving thousands unemployed. Manufacturing plants in the towns in these areas — which used to make harvesters, hydraulic lifts, trailers, food-processing equipment — have largely shut down; their production has been shipped off overseas or south of the border. Agriculture itself — from almonds to raisins — has increasingly become corporatized and mechanized, cutting by half the number of farm workers needed. So unemployment runs somewhere between 15 and 20 percent.

Many of the rural trailer-house compounds I saw appear to the naked eye no different from what I have seen in the Third World. There is a Caribbean look to the junked cars, electric wires crisscrossing between various outbuildings, plastic tarps substituting for replacement shingles, lean-tos cobbled together as auxiliary housing, pit bulls unleashed, and geese, goats, and chickens roaming around the yards. The public hears about all sorts of tough California regulations that stymie business — rigid zoning laws, strict building codes, constant inspections — but apparently none of that applies out here.

It is almost as if the more California regulates, the more it does not regulate. Its public employees prefer to go after misdemeanors in the upscale areas to justify our expensive oversight industry, while ignoring the felonies in the downtrodden areas, which are becoming feral and beyond the ability of any inspector to do anything but feel irrelevant. But in the regulators’ defense, where would one get the money to redo an ad hoc trailer park with a spider web of illegal bare wires?

Meanwhile, back in Sacramento, how badly have “Progressives” overspent their constituents’ money?

Gov.-elect Jerry Brown said Tuesday that he wants to complete a budget agreement within two months of unveiling his budget, an accelerated timeline that would allow a late-spring special election for potential tax increases or other revenue generation.

… “We’ll present a budget on Jan. 10. It will be a very tough budget, but it will be transparent,” he said. “We’ll lay it out as best I can. We’ve been living in fantasy land. It is much worse than I thought. I’m shocked.”

And when Jerry Brown of all people says that Sacramento has been living in fantasy land, well, he ought to know. Next month though, he’ll take over where Arnold and Gray Davis have left off, as the state’s newest Handicapper General, even as “the ticks are getting louder,” VDH writes, on the state’s “social, cultural, economic, and political time-bomb.”

Update (12/16/10): And speaking of the Office of Handicapper General, “Great news: California to adopt cap-and-trade,” Ed Morrissey writes:

California’s unemployment rate has soared to 12.4%, third highest in the nation.  For the sixth straight year, it has a net loss of population to other states as employers look to escape the onerous regulatory regimes and high tax rates in the nation’s most populous state.  What better time to make energy more expensive and give government even more command control of the economy?  Via Blue Collar Philosophy:

California regulators Thursday are expected to adopt the nation’s most comprehensive carbon trading regime, creating a market-based way to lower greenhouse gas emissions at a time when similar efforts have stalled in Congress.

The program is the centerpiece of the state’s 2006 global warming law, which aims to slash carbon dioxide and other planet-heating pollution to 1990 levels by 2020. That would amount to a 15% cut from today’s level.

The cap-and-trade system “will help drive innovation, create more green jobs and clean up our air and environment,” said California Air Resources Board Chairwoman Mary D. Nichols, adding that it “provides flexibility” to industry and takes “into consideration the current economic climate.”

Texas to start building even more houses and apartments in 3,2,1