The Long March From California to Copenhagen

Nowhere is there a better example of the collective effort than in California. Politics don’t matter here; both Republicans and Democrats embrace statism, high taxes, and growing entitlements.

So — we have the highest gasoline taxes, highest income taxes, highest sales taxes and collect enormous amounts of revenue to pay the highest-compensated and most numerous state employees in the nation to allot these revenues for others. We have the largest number of illegal aliens, and offer the most generous state subsidies for health, welfare, and education and legal aid. We pay more per prison convict than anywhere else, and have more of them per capita as well.

State Worker Paradise

If one is a teacher, a public nurse, or a state bureaucrat, and stays close to home, life is not too bad.  Two tenured teachers at midlife can easily make together $160,000 with summers off — far more than the owner of a brake shop or a farmer of 40 acres of trees — and without worry over burdensome regulations or the daily need to drive down the 99 for a living, or to fly out of LAX for business, or to depend on the local CSU to provide literate, skilled employees. Life is therefore pretty good, at least so far.

But if you are a private company, dealing with high taxes, all sorts of regulations, a crumbling infrastructure (take a 300-mile drive from Gilroy south on 101; spend a day at LAX, or try finding a convenient east-west route out of California in the winter), and poorly educated employees, the experiment in egalitarianism has failed.

Answer? The best job in California is a state one; the worst a private-sector one. Result? 3,500 flee per week with capital, education, and know-how; 2,500 arrive with far less capital and training.

The state is billions in the hole; the public employee unions are furious that there is no “they” left to fork up more money.

And the big companies are gearing up to leave as well. Agriculture is under assault by affluent green state-employed professors, biologists, lawyers, and park officials. Prison union employees, prison administrators, lawyers etc. are all haranguing each other over shrinking funds. Los Angeles is a mess — broke, subpar schools, a place where grandees arrive for the work day and leave asap at 5. San Francisco survives by its natural beauty that snags tens of millions of tourist dollars; without it, it would devolve into Lima or Cairo.

On the National Scene

This California model is important because Obama is adopting it as a blueprint on a national scale. If he wins (and don’t count him out), life really would be more patterned on an equality of result. New payroll, income, state, local, and health care surcharge taxes would hit those over $200K with about a 70% take of one’s income. The public sector employees double in number, unionize, and demand ever more from “them.” Cap-and-trade charges raise  monthly utility bills 20%. Things like SUVs, Winnebagos, and private jet travel are taxed out of reach — except for a guardian class that uses public moneys for a rarefied lifestyle of governance and enforcement (sort of like the jets parked on the tarmac at Copenhagen or Barack’s night out on the Big Apple).

We would all want a job at the DMV but would never want to go there for any service — a model for health care to come.  In short, the poor get a little better off, the better-off a lot worse, and America becomes a sort of collective lower middle class at about  a 1950s lifestyle, praised and congratulated for ending “poverty.”

And On to the World

Hugo Chavez was greeted as a rock star at Copenhagen, despite his anti-democratic, anti-Semitic, violent and corrupt rule. The climate change conference doesn’t seem to be just about climate change, but rather is degenerating into a call for universal socialism, with money going from West to the South.

America’s model, we see now at Copenhagen, can be expanded globally as well. The “poor” nations (many fabulously wealthy, like Zimbabwe, in natural resources) demand money from the wealthy West to even the playing-field under the guise of carbon-offset penance.

The West taxes its populace to hand over trillions to those without as many polluting cars and industries — on the socialist belief that impoverishment in Latin America and Africa is due to oppression, neo-colonialism, and economic imperialism rather than endemic corruption, tribalism, ethnic and religious strife, gender apartheid, the lack of legal protection for property and the individual, and statist bureaucracies. “They,” not “we,” did it to “us.”

(Never mentioned is the corollary of the Copenhagen shake-down: wealthy countries produce the steel, plastics, and information-based knowledge that poor countries use:  paying a Zimbabwe billions for using less carbon would be as asinine as charging them billions for R&D full costs for the cars, industries, pharmaceuticals, eyeglasses, and technology their people use, but have not invented, fabricated, and in most cases maintained and repaired.)

The Great Chain of Socialism

In other words, we are seeing a strange era in which the once last bastion of capitalism, the free-market US, is trying to emulate the California model—and in turn the world wishes to follow what the Obama administration is trying to do in America.

Note well: California depends on “them” producing real wealth in food, fiber, manufacturing, oil, gas, timber, construction, and high-technology. In turn, the US depends on 50 states doing the same to provide for the expansive regulatory and administrative federal  class, and the world relies on the US economy to provide the growth and capital to redistribute. (e.g., We can’t all be the Obamas, Valerie Jarretts, David Axelrods, Rahm Emanuels, Van Jones, Timothy Geithners, etc. who have made good livings as advocates, regulators, bureaucrats, legislators, etc. without having to worry about meeting a payroll).

The Unsung?

In truth, in some ways, the world economy depends every day on some engineer, farmer, architect, radiator shop owner, truck driver or plumber getting up at 5AM, going to work, toiling hard, and producing real wealth so that an array of bureaucrats, regulators, and redistributors can manage the proper allotment of much of the natural largess produced.

The whole system from California to Copenhagen will keep on working as long as the productive classes feel there are still incentives to jump out of bed at 5AM. When they don’t, the power is cut off to thousands of gears and cogs — and the world looks more like Ecuador or Somalia than the U.S.