The strongest earthquakes to hit California in decades struck last week, leaving behind a few messes and fears of more to come. The most destructive force in the state, though, is not a quivering Earth but the lawmakers who are wrecking what was once a land of promise.
California has a tragic history with earthquakes.
The San Francisco quake of 1906 is thought to have killed at least 3,000, forced 250,000 into the streets, and leveled “more than 500 blocks in the city center.”
Eighty-three years later, the Loma Prieta quake killed 63, injured 3,800, and cut major transportation arteries in the devastated Bay Area.
Then last week a 7.1 earthquake in Southern California, surrounded by strong foreshocks and aftershocks, brought hazy memories back into focus. Earthquakes cruelly turn lives inside out and upside down.
Nothing herein is intended to minimize the loss of life and the property damage that has been wrought by California quakes. But as cruel as they are, a steady stream of progressive public policy has the potential to inflict even deeper, and more long-term negative effects.
Here’s where California is today after two decades of progressive, Blue State governance:
- Executive magazine has named California the worst state for business for 15 straight years.
- California imposes the heaviest regulatory burden on small businesses in the country.
- The business tax climate is worse only in New Jersey.
- Businesses of all sizes continue to flee the state.
- Property rights are being violated at an alarming pace. Just ask the “Central Valley farmers who’ve had their land seized in the name of high-speed rail” and are still waiting to be compensated by the state.
- People are leaving in large numbers, and many who haven’t yet are desperate to escape.
- That is if they are able to leave, because many of the roads and highways leading out are so cracked up they’re hard to navigate. Forty-one states have better systems.
- The state’s unofficial “road diet” means that motorists have to spend more time on the crumbling tracks than they should because the state has the worst traffic congestion on Earth.
- Liberty continues to be crowded out by growing government authority. The Cato Institute ranks California 48th in freedom among the states, a position it has occupied since 2011.
- The state has had the highest poverty level in the country in recent years.
- While California’s public education system is failing, the state has gone to war with charter schools, which are not only popular with parents and students, they raise student achievement.
- The highest average gasoline price is found in California, which not coincidentally also has the highest gasoline tax in the nation.
- Even though it accounts for only 12% of the U.S. population, 25%-30% of the nation’s homeless live in California.
- The runaway public employee pension system threatens to devour the state.
The counter-argument is that the economy, the fifth-largest in the world if it stood on its own, continues to sail along. But unlike the domestic economy, which is picking up everyone, the California economy is working largely only for the rich. Middle-class families can hardly afford the homes they’re living in, leaving few dollars for other spending. The middle class is in fact disappearing, but not because members are moving into the upper economic class but because they are leaving. The poor? They’re largely stuck because they don’t have the resources the middle class have to flee.
Unlike earthquakes, which shatter lives in just a few seconds, progressive policies destroy cities and states and nations over time. Also unlike earthquakes, the disaster is quite predictable.
— Written by J. Frank Bullitt
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