A pretty lousy tradeoff if you ask me, and quite a metaphor for a state that has ceased to produce much of value itself. In California perhaps the most predominant influence on economic activity has now become the government itself, supplanting such things as private manufacturing. And government, as you know, is far more skilled at taking than making.
And there are some real consequences. In an article on the New Geography site called A Milestone On The Road To Becoming A Third World Economy, author Bill Watkins cites Northrup Grumman's abandonment of Los Angeles as yet another indication of where we are all heading.
The reasons for this exodus are both simpler and less flattering than those usually given. One big reason is selfishness. California's decline chose to consume, and not to produce. Wealthy, aging, Baby Boomers control the state. In the cause of "quality of life" or "the environment," they have succeeded in limiting opportunity for everyone else ... The other big reason for decline lies with governments, state and local, that now exist to serve themselves and not their citizens. The level of government goods and services, even infrastructure and basics, has declined, but state spending, adjusted for inflation and population, has continued to soar.
The notion that California has become a State that consumes goods and services while producing very little itself has become a widely accepted one. We are living off of our inheritance, and what has vanished just isn't being replaced with anything of similar value. Industries and jobs are going elsewhere, and what is now being produced here are little more than policy papers, useless regional planning councils, and thousands of new laws. As Watkins puts it:
Southern California is starting to look a lot like a third-world economy, service based, inequitable, serving a wealthy, mostly aging few, with little opportunity for younger workers and a large underclass.
An irony forward example of this could be the solar energy industry. One of the claims of those supporting such things as AB 32 is that it would help to create large amounts of new high paying green jobs here in California. Yet the costs of doing business in this state are so high that when it comes time for companies to decide where to build the plants that will manufacture green technologies such as solar panels, they don't come here. Here's how technology advocate Jack Stewart puts it in a Fox & Hounds article called More Solar Companies Producing Elsewhere to Sell to California:
It looks like Tennessee just attracted a $1 billion solar facility and 500 accompanying jobs from a German solar firm, Wacker Chemie, and an Associated Press story hints that the volunteer state put up a $50 million incentive package to recruit the high wage company ... This news adds to a previously announced $1.2 billion investment from another solar firm, Hemlock Semiconductor, looking to produce solar products in Clarksville, Tennessee. Why is it that little old unsophisticated Tennessee can attract $2.2 billion in solar power investments and the home of solar and other green power mandates can sit and watch its unemployment numbers skyrocket to the country's third worst rate - 10.1 percent - and leave behind an economy-altering number of manufacturing jobs?
Pretty good question. Bills such as AB 32 and SB 375 bring with them some radical changes to how we're supposed to live our lives here, yet the benefits that are supposed to accompany such sacrifices are apparently going elsewhere. The reason being that doing business is just so much more expensive here than it is in places like Tennessee. Like 38% more expensive. This being a stark example of how we have become merely a consumer society, one that only benefits the haves while disenfranchising a growing underclass of poorly paid service industry workers.
California tax advocate Richard Rider keeps a doomsday ledger of our economic decline that he calls Breaking Bad: California vs. the Other States. He cites these examples as a way of comparing what we have here with the business and tax environment in other states. I'm going to list some of them here.
California has the 3rd worst state income tax in the nation. 9.55% tax bracket at 446,349. 10.55% at S1,000,000. Click here.
By far the highest state sales tax rate in the nation, 8.25%. 7% is the next highest does not include local sales taxes.) Click here and see table #15.
California corporate income tax is the highest in the Western United States, and the 9th highest nationwide @ 8.84%. Click here and see table #8.
2010 Business Tax Climate ranks 48th in the nation. Click here.
Fourth highest capital gains tax @ 9.55%. Click here.
Highest gasoline tax in the nation (January, 2010). Average now @ 65 cents per gallon. Click here.
1 in 5 in LA County receiving public aid. Click here.
California has 12% of the nation's population, but 36% of the country's TANF ("Temporary" Assistance for Needy Families) welfare recipients - more than the next 7 states combined. Click here.
California now has the lowest bond ratings of any state, edging out Louisiana. Click here.
America's top CEO's rank California "the worst place in which to do business" for the fourth straight year. Click here.
Consider California's net domestic migration (migration between states). From April, 2000 through June 2008 (8 years, 2 months) California has lost a NET 1.4 million people. The departures slowed in 2008 only because people couldn't sell their homes. Click here.
Well, hopefully you get the picture. There is a lot more, and if you're a real glutton for punishment, you can access the rest here.
But here is one final thought. If Sacramento has dragged this state down into the economic mess it is now, how can anybody be expecting any different result when they presume to tell us how we need to do such things as our General Plan? Since Sierra Madre is running a budget surplus, and has a handle on its fiscal situation that is really second to none, shouldn't we be allowed to chart our own course on planning as well? Rather than being forced to adopt the edicts of a vast and unresponsive bureaucracy far less skilled at governance than we are?