Liberalism has ruined California

Conn Carroll:
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In his state of the state speech, Brown claimed, "California lost 1.3 million jobs in the Great Recession, but we are coming back at a faster pace than the national average." The first half of Brown's statement is true, but the second half is not. California has only gained back 556,000 jobs since the recession ended, or 42 percent of those lost -- well below the national average of 60 percent regained. As a result, California's unemployment rate is still near double-digits at 9.8 percent. By comparison, Texas, which lost 427,000 jobs during the recession, has gained them all back and created an additional 265,000.

California is no longer a model that other states want to or should emulate. It currently has the nation's third highest unemployment rate, its highest poverty rate and more than one-third of the nation's welfare recipients.

What happened?

To make a long story short, the same political constituencies that have made Brown's Democratic Party invincible at the ballot box have also made the state unable to compete economically. California public employees, who are represented by the nation's most politically powerful government unions, benefit from some of the nation's most generous compensation packages. These unions have made it nearly impossible to keep spending down, thus making debt and higher taxes inevitable.

These unions also make it impossible to improve how government services are delivered to taxpayers. As a result, while California once had the most admired education system in the nation, it now ranks near the bottom in almost every measured educational category.

The state's powerful environmental lobby has secured a slew of green energy regulations, including strict clean air rules, the nation's first carbon cap-and-trade program and an ambitious renewable energy mandate. As a result, energy prices have shot up, consumers now have less to spend on everything else they need to survive, and many manufacturers can't stay profitable in the state.

Finally, wealthy urban environmentalists have completely inverted the infrastructure spending priorities that once made California an engine of economic and population growth. Endangered species of wildlife are now favored over farmers and food. Highways and suburbs are losing out to mass transit and urban centers. The emerging result is a disappearing middle class, and what's left of the state is split between a highly educated, landed, wealthy and elderly elite, and a poor, government-dependent, uneducated lower class.
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Unions have created a toxic brew of debt and regulation and creased taxes making California a place where only unions can really prosper long term and in the process they are sucking the life out of the private sector. They are creating more opportunities for Texas.

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