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Free Minds & Free Markets

California Should Be More Like Texas

Golden State reforms are overhyped.

California Comeback: How a "Failed State" Became a Model for the Nation, by Narda Zacchino, St. Martin's Press, 328 pages, $26.99

St. Martin's PressSt. Martin's PressAll Texans know that Texas is the greatest state in the country. Many national observers would disagree, of course; they often do so for no apparent reason and with what I would describe as an objectively disproportionate degree of hostility. Narda Zacchino, a writer from California, is one such example. Her new book, California Comeback, sets out to explain how the state, which suffered more than most during the Great Recession, has turned things around.

Her goal, actually, is even more ambitious than that. "California," she writes, "has become the economic, social, and political model of the twenty-first century, which stands in contrast to the alternative examples of Texas, Kansas, Florida, and others hobbled by right-wing ideology."

As recently as a few years ago, California was the functional equivalent of a clown stepping on a rake and then bursting into flames, but matters appear to have improved somewhat since then. There seems to be an intriguing story to be told about the state's recent history, and the sheer swagger of Zacchino's opening salvo raised my hopes that it would be one with a happy ending.

It's not easy to wrap your head around a state as large, complex, and dynamic as California. It has 38 million people. If it were a standalone country, its economy would rank as the seventh largest in the world. Its politics are incomprehensible. California is a blue state, but it had a Republican governor as recently as 2010 and, furthermore, that governor was The Terminator.

Zacchino's résumé includes 31 years at the Los Angeles Times followed by six as deputy editor of the San Francisco Chronicle. She has amassed nearly four decades' worth of expertise on a substantively interesting circus, and she uses it to relitigate the relative merits of Texas vs. California. Zacchino claims that this is a "grudge match, manufactured in large part by the media and politicians."

To be fair, there are a lot of Texans who talk about California as a rival. Former Gov. Rick Perry has done so many times, and he capers through her book with the rambunctious vim that recently dazzled viewers of Dancing with the Stars. I understand what Zacchino is getting at when she says that people like me, including me specifically (I wrote a book on Texas in 2013), were "piling onto the meme" that Texas and California represent a study in contrasts between what one pro-Texas partisan summarized as "two opposing versions of the American dream, one based on liberty, the other, government."

The person she's quoting there, though, is Chuck DeVore, a former state assemblyman from Orange County. Texans don't actually define our state in opposition to California—not even Perry does, come to that.

Californians shouldn't either. There are good things happening in the Golden State, but having read Zacchino's book, my impression is that it's still struggling with the collective cognitive dissonance that seems to be at the root of its most painful public travails.

The passage of Proposition 187, in 1994, is a good example. The measure—which sought to establish a statewide citizenship screening system for unauthorized immigrants and bar them from using nonemergency health care services—was struck down by the courts, and Republicans have subsequently paid a heavy electoral price for having championed its passage. Even today, though, there's a kind of bewildered anguish in the accounts that Californians give of the saga, and Zacchino's is no exception. California, she explains, is not the kind of state one would expect to embrace a draconian approach to illegal immigration, much less a punitive attitude to the migrants themselves. California is supposed to be better than that. It's the red states, like Texas, that one would expect to succumb to the ills of intolerance.

"Still, the measure passed," concedes Zacchino. She hastens to add that "Texans might have voted for a Proposition 187–type measure given the opportunity, but there is no initiative process there." That's true. But it's also true that in 2001, via the old-fashioned techniques we still use down here, Texas adopted a state-level dream Act that extended in-state tuition at our public universities to non-citizen students who came to the U.S. illegally as children.

It's not hard to understand why Texas' elected officials would take such a forward-thinking approach to the subject, if you step away from the stereotypes for a second and think about the facts. It doesn't make much sense to soapbox about how unauthorized immigrants are taking advantage of your lavish welfare state when no such thing exists.

Ultimately, I'm dubious that the "California model" Zacchino is touting is entirely coherent. There is, of course, a "blue-state" analogue to the red-state model that Texas has come to represent, and it has served certain states well. Massachusetts, for instance, may not be a job-creating machine, but it doesn't need to be. It's a relatively small state, and its comparatively expansive public sector is funded by one of the most highly educated workforces in the country.

California has so many eccentricities that it doesn't seem like a particularly useful paradigm, especially since one of them is the kind of magical thinking that explains its relatively recent flirtation with fiscal disaster. As far as I can tell, California's "comeback" is being single-handedly engineered by its governor, Jerry Brown, who has been busy MacGyvering the largest economy in the nation back from the brink since returning to Sacramento in 2010. He's also been routinely harassed by environmental activists while doing so. Zacchino presents that side of the story as if it helps make the case for the California way, but her account of the state's recent fight over hydraulic fracturing points to an underlying problem with the concept.

In 2013, Brown signed legislation establishing regulations on fracking, rather than fighting to place a moratorium on the technique. This was, according to Zacchino, "disconcerting and confusing to environmentalists who had consistently been in his corner," and "his past reputation was not enough to protect him from the fury of greens on this issue." In October of that year, he was confronted by Paul Rogers, a reporter from the San Jose Mercury News, who asked Brown to explain how he could reconcile his support of fracking with his stated belief that climate change represents an existential threat to the world.

For the record: This is not a very good gotcha question. It can be answered by referring the concerned citizen to Google, which he can use to look up the 2011 Massachusetts Institute of Technology study "The Future of Natural Gas." Brown, more politely, explained the key takeaway: "In terms of the larger fracking question—natural gas—because of that, and the lowered price, the carbon footprint of America has been reduced because of the substitution of natural gas for coal."

This was, according to Zacchino, "a rare incoherent sentence" from Brown and, moreover, "perhaps a bit disingenuous" on his part. She also warns that the governor's stance on the issue "may not be enough for the public." A 2014 poll found that 68 percent of California voters were in favor of a bill reviving the call for a moratorium, although it ultimately failed after the the oil industry, which she says "has more clout than the voters," spent $1.5 million lobbying against it.

It's puzzling that California's environmentalists weren't more receptive to Brown's point that natural gas is displacing coal. He's correct about the energy portfolio, and his stated commitment to addressing climate change is backed by a decades-long record as one of America's most influential tree huggers.

Photo Credit: St. Martin's Press

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  • SamHell||

    California, the urban blight of the west. You don't see the Texas population hemorrhaging and bleeding it's sickness all over it's neighbors. California seem's like the twin brother of Texas who was brought up with the same strong work ethic but then moved away and never kept in touch - slowly devolving into gluttony and listening to the Beach Boys. Now
    where Texas has a healthy pride for itself California has disdain for others. And then the Californians bring that disdain with them when the move into you state and tell you that you need to be more like California.
    Where I live "Go back to California" is a popular refrain, and the only thing we know of Texas is not to mess with them.

  • Longtobefree||

    blah blah something something listen to me, I am great.
    One question: are more people moving from Texas to California, or from California to Texas?
    Full disclosure; I ran in fear from California in the eighties.

  • SQRLSY One||

    Austin, TX, hi-tech area is HEAVILY populated with refugees from California. Austin is the seat of TX (capitol), AND it's got CA refugees, so yes, it votes heavily Demoblican... Austin is often known as "The People Republic of Austin".

    It is true, CA refugees have NOT learned the lesson of "Greece-ifornia", and drag their stupid ideas with them!

  • DOOMco||

    *Colorado nods nervously*

  • prolefeed||

    I live in Austin, and I was born in CA -- but not taking the retarded ideas that fucked up CA and HI with me. Plenty of prog refugees here, though, including my GF.

  • Pay up, Palin's Buttplug!||

    Hawaii has the added disadvantage of the Jones Act… which is why beef is flown in or shipped from Canada or Mexico rather than shipped from US ports.

  • prolefeed||

    I live in Austin, and I was born in CA -- but not taking the retarded ideas that fucked up CA and HI with me. Plenty of prog refugees here, though, including my GF.

  • LarryA||

    It is true, CA refugees have NOT learned the lesson of "Greece-ifornia"

    Well, some are teachable.
    Got a call from a guy who was pissed because he had looked all over the Texas government websites, and couldn't find where to register his guns. I told him we don't do that kind of nonsense.

    He asked how he could bring his guns into the state. I told him to put them in his car and drive across the border.

    He said he was going to love it here.

  • GlenchristLaw||

    "The passage of Proposition 187, in 1994, is a good example."

    The passage of Proposition 8 is a better example.

  • TeveTorbes||

    24% of the nation's welfare recipients live in California, yet only 12% of the population live there. But the intolerant red state of Idaho has the lowest number of welfare recipients in the US.

    California should secede and prove to us all how great it is. Once it's an independent country and no longer eligible to receive US bailouts of its entitlement system, it can really prove how much better than all the red states it is.

  • Tony||

    That's because it has the most generous benefits in the country.

    And still it remains not a shit hole.

  • MarkLastname||

    Have you seen how many homeless people there are in SF or San Diego? The sidewalks are lined with sleeping bags.

    Face it, if it weren't for the Pacific Ocean and the weather Cali would be one big Detroit.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    San Fran smells like piss and shit. Literally smells is piss and shit.

  • Brochetta(MEDIOCRE_NEGRO)ward||

    I judge states these days a lot like how I judge foreigners - by the food they are famous for. I've seen nothing from California besides awful attempts to ruin pizza and various kinds of plants. Texas has great barbecue and texmex.

    The food is typically prepared with strong attention to presentation. Foods low in saturated fats and high in fresh vegetables and fruits with lean meats and seafood from the California coast often define the style.

    It's like if Hitler ran a restaurant.

  • Brochetta(MEDIOCRE_NEGRO)ward||

    Cont.

    Right down to the small portion sizes that make you feel like you are eating government rations.

  • Trigger Hippie||

    Nah, no meat in Adolph's Diner.

    There's a theory that his vegetarianism may have played a crucial role in his mental instability. For example: Almost all complete proteins come from animal sources. This means that they contain all of the essential amino acids and many of the non-essential ones too (gelatine is the only incomplete protein from animal sources as it lacks the amino acid tryptophan). Most plant sources are incomplete and therefore anyone following a vegetarian or vegan diet needs to ensure that they are careful to combine food sources so that they get all the amino acids each day. Serious physical and mental health issues can arise from a lack of essential amino acids in the body.

    Who knows, maybe If the teetotaler shithead have a glass of wine and a leg of lamb once in awhile that whole WWII thing could have been avoided.....

    Vegetarianism is responsible for genocide. There, I said it.

  • BakedPenguin||

    He also had chronic flatulence - bad enough he saw a doctor for it.

  • Trigger Hippie||

    And allegedly a micro-penis.
    No meat
    No booze
    No dick
    Bad gas.

    No wonder he was so pissed off.

  • EDG reppin LBC||

    Micro penis? Maybe the mohel slipped and took a little too much off the top?

  • Trigger Hippie||

    Okay, it was hypospadias. There's no proof he actually had a micro. But hey, it's Hitler, so why not run with it?

  • Ted S.||

    Hitler has only got one ball,
    Goering has two, but they're quite small....

  • Scarecrow Repair & Chippering||

    Himmler, has something simlar ....

  • EDG reppin LBC||

    And see here, what about Speer?

  • MarkLastname||

    Heroin will do that to ya

  • Animal||

    Perhaps it wasn't just one - maybe Hitler was like the young man of Devizes, whose balls were of different sizes.

    The one was so small it was no ball at all, but the other one won several prizes.

  • Brochetta(MEDIOCRE_NEGRO)ward||

    Lean meats and fish might as well be vegetables.

  • Trigger Hippie||

    Fair enough.

  • ||

    "I judge foreigners - by the food they are famous for. I've seen nothing from California besides awful attempts to ruin pizza and various kinds of plants. Texas has great barbecue and texmex."

    This is a far superior standard than anything mentioned so far. Bravo.

  • SamHell||

    I dunno I hear Cuban food is really good.

  • cavalier973||

    A real Cuban sandwich is delicious.

    Otherwise, for someone used to spicy Mexican food, Cuban food is kind of bland.

  • ThomasD||

    The Cuban sandwich was created in Florida.

  • Brian||

    Because nothing says Socialtopia like Silicon Valley, expensive real estate, and some of the worst wealth and income quality ever.

  • The Fusionist||

    "...Proposition 187...—which sought to establish a statewide citizenship screening system for unauthorized immigrants and bar them from using nonemergency health care services—was struck down by the courts....California, [Zacchino] explains, is not the kind of state one would expect to embrace a draconian approach to illegal immigration, much less a punitive attitude to the migrants themselves."

    California *didn't* embrace a punitive approach to illegal immigration. It didn't propose to punish the illegal immigrants, simply to require them to pay for their own nonemergency health care.

  • The Fusionist||

    My summary wasn't fully accurate

    "Summary

    "Makes illegal aliens ineligible for public social services, public health care services (unless emergency under federal law), and public school education at elementary, secondary, and post-secondary levels.

    "Requires various state and local agencies to report persons who are suspected illegal aliens to the California Attorney General and the United States Immigration and Naturalization Service. Mandates California Attorney General to transmit reports to Immigration and Naturalization Service and maintain records of such reports.

    "Makes it a felony to manufacture, distribute, sell or use false citizenship or residence documents."

    So it *would* help deport them for being illegal, and punish anyone who forged citizenship/residency documents.

    And it would deny public benefits except certain emergency health care - again, though, this is only "punitive" if making people pay for their own stuff is punitive.

  • creech||

    Get with the program: anyone being required to pay for any goods or services they use is being "punished."

  • Adans smith||

    California ,water, water every where and not a drop to drink. I believe that sums it up.

  • ||

    "Her goal, actually, is even more ambitious than that. "California," she writes, "has become the economic, social, and political model of the twenty-first century, which stands in contrast to the alternative examples of Texas, Kansas, Florida, and others hobbled by right-wing ideology."

    As recently as a few years ago, California was the functional equivalent of a clown stepping on a rake and then bursting into flames, but matters appear to have improved somewhat since then. There seems to be an intriguing story to be told about the state's recent history, and the sheer swagger of Zacchino's opening salvo raised my hopes that it would be one with a happy ending."

    Is this parody?

    Please, someone tell me how I can help the CalExit movement along.

  • Adans smith||

    I believe Lex Luther had a good plan.

  • Adans smith||

    I believe Lex Luther had a good plan.

  • Adans smith||

    Even the squirrels agree.

  • C. S. P. Schofield||

    What ails California is what also ails most expansive State government fiefs; most Liberals and all Politicians like to spend money they do not have, and have no realistic expectation of ever getting. All of the California Liberals' happy welfare state bulls*t would be inconsequential if they ever really ran into "you can't do that, the money ain't there".

    Sadly, they probably won't. Not until the entire state is bankrupt, and all those lovely feel good policies grind to an abrupt halt because everybody with a productive job has left the state to avoid being taxed to death.

  • Brochetta(MEDIOCRE_NEGRO)ward||

    When that happens, I can only hope there's another God-Emperor (because let's face it - this whole Republic thing isn't going to last much longer) Trump to ban travel by Californian refugees and build a wall to ensure enforcement of said ban. Amen.

  • Scarecrow Repair & Chippering||

    I don't think proggies actually understand the budget process at all. They do understand that various constitutions have limits on what they can spend, and they cooperate only because judges force them to, but they don't understand money at all. For one, they think rich people have Scrooge McDuck swimming pools full of cash just waiting to be confiscated; they don't understand that if they did manage to confiscate all wealth in their realm, they'd end up owning some yachts, jewelry, etc, but mostly stocks and bonds. The point is, there'd be little actual spendy stuff. Everything else would have to be sold to turn into spendy stuff, and the only people who could buy it are the ones who just lost everything to the robbers.

    They don't understand debt or deficits. They think they can just spend whatever they want, and the money magically appears from somewhere, like the old joke about not being broke because they still have some checks left. The idea that debts need to be repaid, that interest has to be paid until the debt is cleared, and that said repayments come from the same spigot as all their glorious programs ... it all seems quite beyond their understanding.

    And then there's their whole miscomprehension of intentions vs reality, legislation vs natural laws, economics in particular. But that's a different kettle of fish.

  • Jerryskids||

    "California Dreaming" probably sums it up. California is disproportionately populated by slackers and idealists and mooncalves. They've got a Hollywood idea of reality, where if you wish hard enough dreams can come true.

    Or "Take It Easy" - a lot of the California stereotypes are really more applicable to Southern California and you can see the same thing in South Florida. You've got the beaches and the sun and the laid-back attitude of "hey, you're living in Paradise, relax and enjoy yourself, don't let the real world intrude".

    They want it all, they want it now, and they want it for free. There's no trade-offs in that world. Just pass a law banning the bad stuff and mandating the good stuff and fairy godmothers will make it all happen.

  • Adans smith||

    What's 'Hotel California' ,chopped liver?

  • ||

    "You can check out anytime you like
    but you can never leave"

    We have to wait for Trump to build a wall for that.

  • Brochetta(MEDIOCRE_NEGRO)ward||

    It's puzzling that California's environmentalists weren't more receptive to Brown's point that natural gas is displacing coal.

    It's only puzzling if you are trying to think like a rational human being, Erica.

  • BakedPenguin||

    This. It's amazing that

    ...to the extent that environmental problems are admitted at all in Texas, they are seen as quantitative technical challenges to be adapted to rather than qualitative moral dilemmas that must be faced.

    was a negative comment. 'Environmental problems aren't something to be dealt with, they're existential horrors that show humanity it's own evil!!!!'

  • juris imprudent||

    Functional equivalent of religion - right down to heresy.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    That line was very striking. They order of "quantitative" vs. "qualitative" seems reversed from how I would expect. The fact that they disagree with people dealing with problems in an objective and quantitative way. and are confused people could have different concerns about qualia, really indicates a tremendous amount about their worldview.

  • GILMORE™||

    As recently as a few years ago, California was the functional equivalent of a clown stepping on a rake and then bursting into flames, but matters appear to have improved somewhat since then.

    [cut to = Clown still on fire, giving thumbs-up to camera, while pointing at rake on ground as if to suggest, "oh, you ... not this time, buddy!"]

    Its politics are incomprehensible.

    that's only if you think politics is about delivering social-goods, instead of just coming up with ways to make people pay larger and larger amounts of money for the promise of them.

  • Raven Nation||

  • Adans smith||

    It's cold with light snow here by the Ohio. I decided it make the best of it. I'm grilling a T bone,rare,with onions,peppers,mushrooms and garlic. I have French bread in the over and beer in the fridge. Have a good day all.

  • GILMORE™||

    I decided it make the best of it. I have French bread in the over

    In your face carifornar!

  • Adans smith||

    And my steak is grain finished,nicely marbled. I don't fix steak often,when I do I want the fat.

  • GILMORE™||

    I read your comment in the voice of Hannibal Lecter

  • Adans smith||

    I prefer Jose Whales.

  • GILMORE™||

    Si, signor....Los buitres necesitan comer también

  • Tundra||

    I do trim the fat on the edge, though. Flare-ups are for amateurs.

    Try the reverse sear with your t-bone. Yum.

  • Adans smith||

    I have used that method and your right. I have two Iron skillets,one large and one small.

  • Tundra||

    I would do it on the grill. The meat on a tbone shrinks up a little and the bone prevents good contact with the skillet. A two-zone fire works best, imo.

  • Adans smith||

    I'll remember that. I have roasted in the oven ,then, seared on the stove top and it was quite good. I have half a beef coming so I will have plenty of beef to try that. I've found letting the steak warm first makes helps .

  • EDG reppin LBC||

    Stay warm and eat well. Out here by the ocean, I'm making a Sunday gravy. Tomatoes, onions, garlic, fresh herbs. Simmered all day in olive oil and homemade broth. With homemade meatballs (sweet Italian sausage and ground beef). Will I geek out and make the pasta from scratch? Depends on how much of this vodka I drink :-)

  • Pay up, Palin's Buttplug!||

    It's cold with light snow here by the Ohio. I decided it make the best of it. I'm grilling a T bone,rare,with onions,peppers,mushrooms and garlic. I have French bread in the over and beer in the fridge. Have a good day all.

    I hope not garlic from Gilroy, CA…

  • GILMORE™||

  • Tundra||

    Would drive.

    Thanks, G. That is really cool.

  • Trials and Trippelations||

    Wheres the car that runs on prog tears?

  • Scarecrow Repair & Chippering||

    it had a Republican governor as recently as 2010 and, furthermore, that governor was The Terminator.

    Only because it was a combined recall-and-select election.

    Zacchino's résumé includes 31 years at the Los Angeles Times followed by six as deputy editor of the San Francisco Chronicle.

    37 years in a bubble of her own choosing.

    Zacchino laments that "to the extent that environmental problems are admitted at all in Texas, they are seen as quantitative technical challenges to be adapted to rather than qualitative moral dilemmas that must be faced."

    Yeh, baby, it's called progress, aka using your noodle, and it's what lifted billions out of poverty while socialists like you were murdering 200M people.

  • ||

    This is a state that produces politicians like Fiona Ma. I will never forget her saying "We found out that the constitution doesnt allow us to ban certain kinds of music."

    With idiots like that holding offices all across the state...well, what can we expect?

  • Scarecrow Repair & Chippering||

    Or that hoplophobe who got busted for running machine guns.

  • juris imprudent||

    Hey - he was trying to do a solid for a homie, don't be so harsh. It's like you expect the man had principles or something.

  • Get To Da Chippah||

    As recently as a few years ago, California was the functional equivalent of a clown stepping on a rake and then bursting into flames

    But then they elected smart Top Men to fix it.

  • ||

    They do have a governor named Moonbeam. He'll fix it.

  • juris imprudent||

    Sad thing is - he might be the last adult in Sacramento. Just watch when he's termed out and the next bozo steps in.

  • MarkLastname||

    I saw him and Earl Warren named as among the best governors in California history. At first I thought that was absurd, but looking at the kind of pols that state produces, in years to come he may be fondly remembered.

  • Adans smith||

    So,their all from San Francisco and the citizens are the bottoms?

  • Raven Nation||

    OT: two things I learned (by inference) from my prog-academic friends last week.

    1. US education was in really good shape before George Bush became president*. But he screwed it up so badly that even Obama couldn't fix it.

    2. US foreign policy was handled really well for the last 8 years.

    *Not en endorsement of NCLB

  • Tundra||

    You need better friends.

    Like me. I'll be your friend, Raven!

  • Raven Nation||

    I thought we were all friends here?

  • American Memer||

    Nah, just Crusty. :^)

  • BakedPenguin||

    2. US foreign policy was handled really well for the last 8 years.

    Jesus. If there was an area Obama really, really sucked at, it was foreign policy. I can see lefties making a case for other areas, but foreign policy was an unmitigated disaster.

    Get them some lube for their birthdays because their heads are jammed up their asses tight.

  • Raven Nation||

    Yeah, the conversation was along the lines of all those State Dept. people who quit last week were obviously getting out before things went to hell. The obvious implication was that nothing from the previous 8 years that actually happened was as bad as anything that might happen in the future.

  • juris imprudent||

    Prog-academics - what more could you expect?

  • Ken Shultz||

    What we demonstrate in California is the resilience of capitalism--its ability thrive despite terrible policy. It's sort of like in the Soviet Union, after the famines caused by farm collectivization, they let people have small, private gardens gardens to feed themselves. California isn't nearly as bad as the Soviet Union, but the point is that just like with those little gardens, a little bit of capitalism can make up for a tremendous amount of terrible policy.

    And California has a number of small advantages that, together, go a long way to making up for bad policy. The entertainment industry having grown up in Los Angeles is a big boon--it's highly entrepreneurial. Having Silicon Valley helps a lot, too, and then there's all the biotech in San Diego. These start up industries are so massively profitable and so highly dependent on highly educated people, a few terrible policies aren't about to slow them down.

    There are accidents of geography that play in California's favor. The climate contributes to the allure of tourism, proximity to China and Asia makes Long Beach and the Port of Los Angeles means we've taken all that distribution and manufacturing business from the east coast, and having a tremendous amount of arable soil makes California's agriculture industry far outproduce anything nearby. Being near Mexico, with its abundant supply of cheap labor doesn't hurt the state's economy either--especially in the construction industry.

  • Ken Shultz||

    Given all these advantages, it's no wonder California is able to thrive despite awful policy. The capitalism goose that lays the golden eggs can be hard to kill--God knows California's politicians have tried to kill it. Sacramento is so screwed up, they think stabbing the goose that lays the golden eggs is what makes them golden. Without California's advantages, we'd be like Detroit. I wouldn't expect the economy to thrive despite California's policies anywhere else in the country--that much is certainly true.

  • Scarecrow Repair & Chippering||

    One fortunate thing which helps capitalism is pot -- even with state and federal bans, it thrives so well that the state has had to back off, whether by bribery or lack of manpower.

    I compare markets to gravity -- legislation can only distort it temporarily. Build a dam to block a river, and it will eventually silt up. Legislate against efficient markets, and they will adapt to work around the legislation and eventually become as efficient in a new way as they used to be.

    Is it a coincidence that California has an abundance of dams as well as market-distorting legislation?

  • Ken Shultz||

    I'd throw marijuana under California's agriculture--I often hear that it's California's biggest ag export, which is amazing considering the wine industry, and how huge ag is in California.

    The other industry that's historically been huge is porn. I'd file that under the entertainment industry.

    Yeah, capitalism's resilience is both a blessing and a curse. The ability to overrun a dam is great, but it means the government can get away with building some gigantic dams.

    And it hardly makes California a model for anyone. California's dams would strangle another state.

  • Trigger Hippie||

    Those are all excellent points, Ken. I'm curious, given all those advantages and the recent talk, do you believe California could in fact function as an independent nation?

    The immediate problems of their policies combined with what I'm assuming would be a restriction on crossing into US territory to one degree or another and likely tariffs from both nations may cause a collapse fairly quickly. The lack of a release valve on the immigration front would likely play a role as well.

    Just spitballing here.

  • Ken Shultz||

    Independence would cause terrible problems. We'd survive, but it would be agonizing.

    Anyway, it's not going to happen.

    Just think about electricity generation and water. More than half of the Hoover Dam's out put goes to Southern California. The dam is in Nevada.

    Nevada and Arizona would love to keep that cheap energy.

    They'd love to have California's share of the water from the Colorado River, too.

    California isn't going anywhere.

  • Suellington||

    I think it is highly unlikely to go, but if it did it would be a friggin disaster. Since the election the proggies have gone totally unhinged. I can't imagine what they would do if they had even more power.

  • Fairbanks||

    I agree with a Ken that it won't happen, but if it did, as an independent country it would continue to spend beyond its means until forced to inflate its currency to pay for it. Then the citizens would realize what's going on and elect a Reagan or Terminator to fix it. California has a history of reversing itself. But the percentage of progs is higher now so it'll be harder to reverse course. At some point it will be beyond fixing and will become Greece.

  • Fairbanks||

    I live in SoCal. I know many well-off people, a good deal of them retired, and we all agree that if it wasn't for the weather we would move. It is the one and only thing keeping us here. There is nothing else in California for a retired person that other states don't have. But if you're an active retired person good weather all year long is huge.

  • ||

    I can readily imagine that a retired person in CA who has owned his/her home since before the 00s RE bubble pretty much has it made. Before 1990 or so even more so.

  • Fairbanks||

    Pretty much, as long as one didn't borrow too much against the home and spend it all. Some did that. And without Prop 13 even those who were financially responsible might have been taxed out of their homes.

  • Longtobefree||

    Florida has no state income tax - - - - - -

  • MarkLastname||

    I would go so far as to say that California's advantages are what incline it toward bad policies. Regulations, welfare states, and utopian thinking are intellectual luxuries in which mainly only rich countries can afford to indulge. It's why Scandinavian countries are the way they are. Like rich people who can afford to piss away money on useless things or waste things others cherish. Those who are habituated to prosperity tend to accumulate bad financial habits because they assume, often correctly, that they'll still be alright.

    Unfortunately too often people come to think those bad habits are a cause of, rather than a consequence of, such prosperity.

  • Deli-bro||

    The oil industry spent 1.5 million dollars to lobby against a moratorium on fracking and that explains why the bill didn't pass. She sounds like Dr. Evil where he thinks that a million dollars is a lot of money.

  • Tony||

    Nobody should be more like Texas. What, is California disproving austere libertarian bullshit more and more each day, and we can't have that now can we?

  • American Memer||

    Hi Tony! Just wanted to say you're right about everything, and polite and humble too. Talk about a model for Reason commenters around the globe! I wish the rest of us were more like you.

    Sincerely,

    AM

  • Suellington||

    You can come see the opposite of austerity right here in SF anytime. I guess profligacy would be the correct word. We have an annual budget for a city of 850k of over 9 billion dollars. The streets, quite literally, look like the third world. We have large homeless encampments everywhere despite (or rather because of) 250 million a year going to homeless services.

  • MarkLastname||

    Is that why there's net migration from Cali to Texas? Or why said migration pattern hit its highest point in a decade last year?

    Is that the heralded progressive solution to poverty? Drive up costs of living with regulations and taxes until poor people start fleeing to other states, then say 'hah! Look at all the (formerly Californian) poor people taking advantage of Texas's low living costs! Must be that trickle down economics that's keeping them poor."

  • Derpetologist||

    Welcome to the State of California!
    Such a 'tarded place (such a 'tarded place)
    Such a 'tarded place
    Plenty of derp in the State of California
    Any time of year (any time of year) you can find it here

  • Derpetologist||

    Welcome to the State of California!
    Such a 'tarded place (such a 'tarded place)
    Such a 'tarded place
    Plenty of derp in the State of California
    Any time of year (any time of year) you can find it here

  • EDG reppin LBC||

    Looks like the squirrels are hoarding your nuts.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    It's just the second go-around of the chorus.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    I think it is highly unlikely to go, but if it did it would be a friggin disaster. Since the election the proggies have gone totally unhinged. I can't imagine what they would do if they had even more power.

    "First thing we do, let's kill all the farmers."

    *I presume they'd go full tilt Stalinism.

  • juris imprudent||

    Duuuude - we can't kill ALL the farmers; we gotta have some to grow our pot. /BayAreaStoner

  • Henry Buttal||

    Having lived in both places, I can say without reservation:
    - tech start up, you are better off in Bay Area
    - actor or writer, you have to be in Hollywood
    - Rich retiree, or long time California family ( looking at you VDH), enjoy the CA weather
    - want to be a full time politician, or enrich yourself on the backs of the tax payers? Sacramento and bust!
    For everything else - oil and gas, refining, real estate, PE, construction, running an established business, a high school education and, yes, alternative energy, Texas is better.

    Granted, we still get those random quirky brainless state legislative actions, but we only let them meet once every two years which helps.

  • Henry Buttal||

    Also, the "well meaning" technological liberal elite have no trouble building fiscal, financial, and physical walls around their wealth (fiefdoms?). E.g., restraint of movement of engineering talent, you can't really "own" Google shares, the tyranny of snail darter over farmer, Brin, Schmidt and Page using Ames for their planes and getting gov Jet A, etc.

    The tension is highest in SF, but it will get worse because the common enemy theme of Trump will eventually wear off, and the people getting shut out will again realize the elites are among them.

  • Rational Exuberance||

    Her goal, actually, is even more ambitious than that. "California," she writes, "has become the economic, social, and political model of the twenty-first century

    Obviously! Marx said that it was historically inevitable!

  • LarryA||

    Well, obviously Zacchinio knows what she is talking about, and she's right. Texas is horribly governed, the economics suck, it's an environmental disaster, and the people here can't wait to move away.

    So no more Californians need to move to Texas just because they can find a job and afford to buy a house.

  • Bra Ket||

    What on earth compelled you to read that ridiculous book?

  • EscherEnigma||

    Every week I come to this site, I'll see someone whining about how horrible California is, and how California should be more like Texas.

    So while Texans might not define themselves in respect to California, there seems to be many folks that do.

    That said, my "hostility" to Texas is pretty simple. They still haven't repealled their unconstitutional sodomy law, and the state government has made it perfectly clear for decades that they don't like gay people like me. So I may be hostile to the state, but they started it before I was born.

  • XM||

    CA removed the super majority vote requirement in passing parts of the budget (if not all). And the voters approved of tax hikes that filled some holes.

    That's the extent of the CA comeback. Like the federal government, Sacramento can now spend and borrow without much opposition. California makes a lot money on tech, stock and information and they can kick the proverbial can down the road. But because their revenue source is overly dependent on the few elites, any catastrophe at the top income level will put the state at risk once again.

    To be fair Brown was more evenhanded in managing spending (bullet train notwithstanding) compared to other democrats. But he couldn't do a thing about the exploding pension liability. And Trump's protectionism will definitely hurt the state.

  • ahmed kamel||

    CA removed the super majority vote requirement in passing parts of the budget (if not all). And the voters approved of tax hikes that filled some holes.

    That's the extent of the CA comeback. Like the federal government, Sacramento can now spend and borrow without much opposition. California makes a lot money on tech, stock and information and they can kick the proverbial can down the road. But because their revenue source is overly dependent on the few elites, any catastrophe at the top income level will put the state at risk once again.

    To be fair Brown was more evenhanded in managing spending (bullet train notwithstanding) compared to other democrats. But he couldn't do a thing about the exploding pension liability. And Trump's protectionism will definitely hurt the state.

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