California was once the land of opportunity, but it is going down the tubes.
Several of California’s prominent cities have declared bankruptcy, such as Vallejo, Stockton, Mammoth Lakes and San Bernardino.
Others are on the precipice, and that includes Los Angeles, California’s largest city.
California’s 2012 budget deficit is expected to top $28 billion, and its state debt is $618 billion. That’s more than twice the size of New York’s state debt, which itself is the second-highest in the nation.
Democrats control California’s Legislature, and its governor, Jerry Brown, is a Democrat.
California is home to some of America’s richest people and companies.
It would then appear that the liberals’ solution to deficit and debt would be easy.
They need only to raise taxes on California’s rich to balance the budget and pay down the debt – or, as President Barack Obama would say, make the rich pay their fair share.
The downside to such a tax strategy is the fact that people are already leaving California in great numbers.
According to a Manhattan Institute study, “The Great California Exodus: A Closer Look,” by Thomas Gray and Robert Scardamalia (October 2012), roughly 225,000 residents leave California each year – and have done so for the past 10 years.
They take their money with them.
Using census and Internal Revenue Service data, Gray and Scardamalia estimate that California’s out-migration results in large shares of income going to other states, mostly to Nevada ($5.67 billion), Arizona ($4.96 billion), Texas ($4.07 billion) and Oregon ($3.85 billion).
That’s the problem.
California politicians can fleece people in 2012, but there’s no guarantee that they can do the same in 2013 and later years; people can leave.
Also, keep in mind that rich people didn’t become rich by being stupid. They have ingenious ways to hide their money.
California has one-eighth of the nation’s population but one-third of its welfare recipients.
According to Businessweek, “it is one of the few states that continue to provide welfare checks for children once their parents are no longer eligible.”
There’s nothing new about the handout strategy.
As far back as 140 B.C., Roman politicians found that the way to win votes is to give out cheap food and entertainment, what came to be known as “bread and circuses.”
Given the widespread contempt for personal liberty and constitutional values, there might be a way for California politicians to solve their fiscal mess.
They can simply stop wealthy people from leaving the state or, alternatively, like some Third World nations, set limits on the amount of assets a resident can take out of the state.
This would surely be within their jurisdiction and would not raise any constitutional issues, because it would serve a compelling state purpose.
In other words, if California were to set up border controls to stop people, as East Germans did at Checkpoint Charlie, before they cross the state line, such action would be protected by the 10th Amendment.
The fact that many Californians have managed to get their assets out of the state complicates the issue.
Article 1, Section 8 of the United States Constitution authorizes Congress “To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes.”
This is known as the commerce clause.
There’s no question that people who pull up stakes and leave California affect interstate commerce; California has less tax revenue, and recipient states have more.
What California Attorney General Kamala D. Harris might do is sue Nevada, Arizona, Texas and Oregon in the federal courts for enticing, through lower taxes and less onerous regulations, wealthy California taxpayers.
Were California to take such measures and have a modicum of success, one wonders how many Americans would be offended by such an encroachment on personal liberty.
After all, how would forcing an American to remain in a state differ in principle from forcing him to purchase health insurance?
Walter E. Williams is a professor of economics at George Mason University. To find out more about Walter E. Williams and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
© 2012 CREATORS.COM
A Minority View
California was once the land of opportunity, but it is going down the tubes.
Starting over at Head Start
All I ever wanted to be was a journalist. Having worked on my high school and college newspapers, I knew it was the career for me.
I love talking to people, listening to their stories, being creative every day and experiencing new things. But as you know, news happens outside the hours of 9 to 5, and my job here at the Register rarely stayed within that time frame.
They don’t make strawberries as they did back in the old days
I’m not inclined to go through my archives at the moment, but it almost feels like the column I’m about to write has almost become an annual thing over the years.
At least I know for sure that that this is not the first time that memories of picking strawberries there on Blair Branch on hot days in June has triggered this keyboard about this time of year.
I grew up on a little subsistence, hillside farm deep in the mountains of eastern Kentucky, among the coalfields near the Virginia line.
Baby boomers have let technology rob their grandchildren of the joys of youth
When I was growing up, it was not uncommon to see fathers and sons along creek banks fishing together or in the woods hunting squirrels or pitching horse shoes or even shooting marbles late in the afternoon in the cool hours before dark.
Dads were teaching kids to play the games they grew up with. Little girls, learned from mothers,how to skip rope, play with jacks or play hopscotch.
No Lincoln or Douglas in this debate
Remember the famous slap-down in the 1988 vice presidential debate when Republican Dan Quayle compared his youth and limited government experience to those of John Kennedy’s when Kennedy ran for president?
His Democratic opponent, Texas Sen. Lloyd Bentsen, acidly replied: “I knew Jack Kennedy. Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. Senator, you’re no Jack Kennedy.”
Senate campaign already in full bloom
Any hope for a respite in the U.S. Senate campaign following Tuesday’s primary disappeared immediately.
Mitch McConnell and Alison Lundergan Grimes came out swinging in victory speeches which sounded like campaign kickoffs.
McConnell commended Matt Bevin on “a tough (primary) race” and appealed to Bevin supporters to unite behind his re-election bid. That will be hard for Bevin and those who backed him.
‘Taxpayer-eaters’ meet ‘self-serving politician-eaters’
What some candidates could gain in this year’s election – beyond just winning office – is a stark reminder of how wrong political leaders were when declaring last year they had adequately addressed Kentucky’s public-pension crisis.
Instead, legislators with serious courage deficiencies failed to agree on reforms beyond what they believe are “politically feasible.”
Step Out, Step up for Diabetes Association
Six weeks ago when I wrote here announcing the 2014 Edition of Team TKO’s American Diabetes Association, Step Out Walk Team, several dozen of you readers sent generous donations to sponsor grandson Tyler Kane Ochs (TKO) and me in the walk that takes place, rain or shine, in the mud or not, at Keeneland on the morning of May 31.
Another several dozen of you either called, emailed or dropped a card in regular mail and asked that I remind you again “after the holidays” (Easter and Mother’s Day).
Hitting the campaign trail
The most watched race in the country ? the battle for the U.S. Senate seat now held by Republican Mitch McConnell ? has so far produced a bevy of charges and not much substance.
We haven’t seen that much of McConnell or his likely Democratic opponent Alison Lundergan Grimes out on the campaign trail.
McConnell’s primary opponent Matt Bevin has been much more active and visible, but his performance hasn’t enhanced his chances.
The case of the scary black cat
If Margie didn’t believe that black cats were the harbinger of bad luck, she certainly believed it when a black cat brushed against her leg while she was leaning over a large trash can burning garbage one late afternoon.
Startled by the sudden appearance of the feline, Margie opened her mouth wide and let out a blood-curdling scream that could have awakened Count Dracula himself.
Basking in the spring sunshine
If you had asked me, as recently as two weeks ago, to make a list of things I expected to see on the first Monday in May of 2014, two of the things that I actually did see would not have been on the list, even if you’d required that it contain at least 500 items.
I’d have been a bit skeptical about Ralph’s purple asparagus and his gorgeous snowball bush, both of which came through most admirably. And I would have had my doubts about the poppies that have been in our back yard for several generations and the bearded German Iris that Jeanette Todd gave us more than two decades ago. It faithfully stuns us there at the corner of the front porch every spring, but there they were, basking in absolute glory as the sun set Monday afternoon.
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