Jerry Brown Tells Californians They Can ‘Eat High Speed Rail’
by Thomas Del Beccaro
California has long been a national leader. In industries such as aerospace, entertainment, agricultural and hi-tech, to name just a few, the Golden State has historically led the way. Today, however, California is the trendsetter in such statistics as unemployment, foreclosures, deficits, unfunded pension liabilities and government workers.
Rather than concentrate on bringing back private sector jobs for distressed Californians, Governor Brown and the Democrats are doubling down on the policies that caused the problems in the first place: more taxes, more regulations and more government jobs.
The numbers reveal stark problems for America’s foremost state: 8 of the top 10 worst foreclosure and unemployment areas in the nation, the 3rd highest unemployment rate in the country and underemployment above 20%. California has perennial budget deficits that exceed the size of the overall budgets of more than 20 states. Worse yet, California has unfunded state and local government pension and medical liabilities that are said to exceed $650 billion or over 650% of its income.
How did the World’s onetime 5th largest economy, now 9th, manage to achieve all these dubious “accomplishments”? The same way it allowed its world ranking to slip. The California economy is weighed down by the highest combined tax and regulatory burden in the world – not to mention a massive government sector that is still growing, notwithstanding its deficits, unfunded liabilities and a shrinking private sector.
Economics need not be that complicated: the more something costs, the less of it you get. That applies to everything – cars, watches and importantly, jobs and income. The costs associated with doing business in California are significantly higher than any state in America and grossly higher than any Western state, i.e. the states that directly compete with California. Indeed, California is consistently rated as the worst state in the U.S. as a place to start a business, and over 4.4 million taxpayers have left the state for job opportunity/low tax states such as Texas.
So what are a Party and their Governor to do, which have a lock on power in California? Have they decided to change course or at least try something new? The answer is certainly not – they are pushing more of the same policies.
The costs of California’s regulations yearly exceed 25% of the state’s GDP. Even though those regulations have driven away manufacturing jobs, California is ready to implement a gargantuan anti-carbon global warming law. Included within it is a new billion a year tax on manufacturing and energy producers.
High regulations are not the only story, though. If your taxable income is over $48,000 per year in California, then you get taxed at the same rate as someone with taxable income greater than a million dollars in 47 other states.
Even though high tax rates have driven away small business entrepreneurs outside its confines, Governor Brown is pushing voters to approve an increase in the state’s top income tax rate from 10.3% to 13.3%.
Most people understand that without private sector jobs, you cannot support public sector jobs or services. Nevertheless, Jerry Brown literally has no plan to restore California’s private economy. He appointed a jobs czar who might as well be in the FBI’s witness protection program; residing alongside the private sector “jobs” that Brown’s policies have created. Both would be near impossible to find!
Brown has pushed one program, however: high-speed rail and the government jobs he says it will bring. The program’s costs have featured wild estimations ranging from the original $34 billion to over $100 billion. The train is initially set to run far way from the state’s major population areas between two small towns in what was once the thriving bread basket of the world, the Central Valley. Hence the name: the high-speed train-to-nowhere.
Ironically and sadly, those small towns are the home of the Nation’s most important agricultural valley, which remains in a depression. Official unemployment rates in area towns still exceed 30%. The California agricultural economy, even at depressed levels, remains the largest in the Country. Amidst those troubles, California Democrats have pushed more regulations on farming not less. To add insult to injury, rather than make its recovery Brown’s highest economic priority, through true market reforms and more water, Brown has chosen to push high-speed rail – the construction of that system will destroy farmland in its path.
So, to a degree that even Marie Antoinette could not fathom, it looks like Brown would rather have Californians eat high-speed rail.
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Thomas Del Beccaro is the Chairman of the California Republican Party. He is Publisher of PoliticalVanguard.com, author of The New Conservative Paradigm and frequent talk radio and television commentator.
This article originally appeared in Forbes.com and is published at SD Rostra with the permission of the author.