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.
Education a priority? Don’t believe it
They did it – more or less.
They got a budget, they got a road plan and they got out of town on time.
Did you miss small business health-care tax credit?
A Kentucky professional who owns his own business found that he missed getting the health-care tax credit.
Compromise is not that simple
It’s tempting for a casual onlooker to wonder why the Democratic House and Republican Senate can’t make what on the surface looks like the obvious compromise on pension reform.
The Senate passed a measure based on recommendations of a task force to move new employees into a hybrid, cash-balance plan but maintain existing defined benefits for current employees and retirees.
Frankfort plays ping-pong with public pension transparency
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The case of the ghostly neighbor
Wilbur lived in a world of fears. Everything frightened him. The full extent of his courage was to admit that he had none.
Noises in the middle of the night, his own shadow creeping up on him and, most of all, black cats scared the wits out of him.
So, picture his chagrin, one day, when he came home from vacation only to discover that a mausoleum had been erected on property adjacent to his home.
Provisional concealed-carry law passes Senate unanimously
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I am particularly proud of the success we had in advocating for Kentuckians’ Second Amendment rights.
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50 years makes a world of difference
I wasn’t in Frankfort on March 5, 1964, when Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Ralph Abernathy, and Jackie Robinson led 10,000 on a march to the state Capitol in support of a public accommodations law.
But a few months later, I stood in front of the “Music Hall,” site of the Glasgow Junior High School located on a street named Liberty, and watched black kids “walk up the hill” of College Street on the first day of integrated schools in Glasgow.
Coal has kept Kentuckians warm this winter
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Protecting citizens’ data is a no-brainer
Target Corp. is learning the hard way: The price is steep for retailers who don’t protect customers’ sensitive financial information.
Target’s profits fell a whopping 50 percent during its fourth quarter of 2013 as the result of a massive security breach involving as many as 110 million of its customers’ credit- and debit-card accounts, which began the day before Thanksgiving and extended throughout much of the holiday shopping season.
Making plans for spring planting
My brother Keith (Keeter) probably planted peas on one of those warm days last week, and I would not be at all surprised to find out that brother Steve did likewise to try to be the first two fellows in Letcher County to actually be digging the soil in their 2014 gardens.
Keeter’s father-in-law, the late Dock Mitchell, used to get my brother to drive him a 50-mile round trip to get pea seeds and potting soil for early February planting. Dock raised mammoth melting sugar snow peas and sugar snaps around every fence on the place.
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