A few weeks ago I wrote an article titled 'As California goes, so goes the nation'. It examined the parlous financial situation in that state, and questioned whether the same problems that threaten to overwhelm it would do the same to the rest of the nation.
Now comes a five-part series of articles in the Washington Examiner by Conn Carroll, taking an in-depth look at aspects of the nightmare that Californians are experiencing right now. To whet your appetite, here's an excerpt from the first article in the series, 'What happened to the Golden State?'
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.
To make a long story short, the same political constituencies that have made [Governor Jerry] 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.
There's more at the link, and in the rest of the series. Sobering, but highly recommended reading. The rest of us had better pray we can limit the rot to California and the few states that have chosen to follow its example, and prevent it spreading to the rest of our nation!