California, We Hardly Knew Ye

"California's economic suicide now includes cap-and-trade," Hugh Hewitt writes in the Washington Examiner:

Voters in the United States have come to the recognition that, even if the Earth is warming, there is nothing the United States can do to stop that rise in temperature as long as India and China remain committed to their development futures.Thus no Democrat last year or in the coming year will run on the demand for a national cap-and-tax scheme. The demand for de-industrialization is a political death wish, and the departure of the Pelosi House buries cap-and-tax at the national level for as long as the GOP holds the House.

Sacramento's political elite knows this, of course, and no reputable scientist will aver that this new single-state scheme will have any impact on global temperature at all. But the theater of California politics required that something be done after all.

So for the purpose of a pose -- Hollywood's influence on California's politics is never insignificant -- the country's most important state economy is taking on a massive productivity-killing burden.

The new CARB regulations benefit lawyers like me who have served on a body like the South Coast Air Quality Management District Board, and consultants with friends in the pollution bureaucracies who can navigate the hallways to the right office where a friendly face can provide a permission slip of some sort for the right fee.

They also empower the business development arms of the various states now led by Republican legislative majorities and energetic, business-friendly governors like Ohio's John Kasich, Florida's Rick Scott, Texas' Rick Perry, Michigan's Rick Snyder, Wisconsin's Scott Walker and Pennsylvania's Tom Corbett, among others.

The job-seeking professionals accompanied by their smiling, just-elected governors will be happy to set up appointments with the governor so that a side-by-side comparison of life under California's new rules contrasts with life in, say, the Buckeye State.

Arnold's "legacy" is thus a job-killing, metastasizing bureaucracy that accomplishes only the destruction of jobs without even a miniscule impact on the world's climate.

Real estate agents across the Midwest, Texas and Florida will cheer Arnold as the best friend they ever had, and the once-great California economy will slip further into stories on Greece, Ireland and Spain.

As with all bad politicians, Arnold may well fail upward; he's pimping himself out for a cushy job with the man who hopes to bring Californication nationwide.

The increasingly feeble state of 21st century California has caused PJM contributor Tim Daniels to wax nostalgic for the sleek state of his youth, which really did once live up to its Golden sobriquet. "California has been fundamentally transformed," Daniels writes. "The results stand as a warning to the rest of America:"

With my own eyes in California I have witnessed the perils of socialism and top-down collectivist government, the havoc wreaked by a blind eye turned to the rule of law, and what creeping and crippling regulations and taxes do to a once-thriving middle class. Neo-Bolshevik state lawmakers beholden to radical special interests joined hands with a neutered opposition party to fleece the world’s 8th largest economy, and my state reminds us of the moral destruction that the entitlement mentality and unfettered entitlements create.

In what seems like a lifetime ago, Barack Obama promised to fundamentally transform the nation. California is what a truly progressive government transformation looks like. Thus, in a sensible America, the decline of California would be the canary call in a coal mine for the nation. How can we let the progressive nightmare continue to happen to the nation when a state of almost 40 million (nearly a nation unto itself) has already experienced the disaster first?

Atlas has shrugged and California has changed – government has ruined this place and I will never forget it.

– Inspiration for this piece comes from Victor Davis Hanson’s National Review article, “Two Californias.”

Fortunately, incoming governor Jerry Brown, returning to the scene of the crime, is instituting the sort of fiscal sanity that has made him legendary:

Gov.-elect Jerry Brown has decided to eliminate the state's federal stimulus fund watchdog, the office of Inspector General Laura N. Chick announced today.

Calling the news an "unfortunate turn," Chick wrote in a letter released by the office that she has been informed by Brown's transition team that her position will be eliminated as of Jan. 1.

"The Governor-elect faces an extremely difficult job in grappling with the severity of the state budget crisis. He received an overwhelming mandate by the voters to make tough decisions, and I wish him the very best during the months ahead," Chick wrote.

Chick praised Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger for creating the office in 2009. At the time, it California was the first state to dedicate an agency to tracking and overseeing the spending of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds.

"His creation of the Inspector General's Office to scrutinize the state's spending of stimulus dollars was unprecedented in the nation. With this singular move he put California in the lead in its oversight of these taxpayer dollars," she wrote. "Creating this office sent a potent message: We are watching."

Not any more. (But what could go wrong, anyhow?) And besides, starting next year, there will be less light by which to see, anyhow. In other words, gentlemen, start your hording:

Say goodbye to your 100-watt incandescent light bulbs. On Jan. 1, it’ll become increasingly challenging to find one on a store shelf in California.

That’s because the state has ordered a phaseout of the high energy-consuming light bulb.

The state is pressing to have the old incandescents replaced with newer, more efficient bulbs, such as compact fluorescents, halogens and light-emitting diode light bulbs, or LEDs.

And beginning in 2012, 100-watt incandescents will be off the shelves completely.

Fair enough. Less lights for the last resident of California to turn off on the way out.

Though as with all bad laws and like the invasion of the body snatchers, it's starting in California...and coming for you, next.

In the meantime though, since California is so determined to put the toothpaste of progress back into the tube, why not go all the way? Or as Glenn Reynolds writes, linking to an item from Rand Simberg on the potential for California to declare bankruptcy, "I like the thought in the comments of seeking a California ballot initiative dissolving the state and returning it to territory status. Hey, in California, who knows . . . .?"

Who, indeed?