Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Leaving ruin in its wake

On today's Front Page Magazine Dennis Prager has an excellent summary of what the left has managed to do with the state of California:

Virtually throughout its history, and certainly in the 20th century, California has been known as the place to go for dynamism and growth. It did not become the richest, most populous, and most productive state solely because of its weather and natural resources.

So it takes a lot to turn California around from growth to contraction, from people moving into the state to a net exodus from the state, from business moving into California to businesses leaving California.

It takes some doing.

And the Left has done it.

California’s Democratic legislature has been more or less able to do whatever it wants with California. The Wall Street Journal has described the result:

“The Golden State -- which a decade ago was the booming technology capital of the world -- has been done in by two decades of chronic overspending, overregulating and a hyperprogressive tax code.…”

One might argue that’s this is a politically biased assessment. So here are some facts, not assessments:

  • California’s state expenditures grew from $104 billion in 2003 to $145 billion in 2008.
  • California has the worst credit rating in the nation.
  • California has the fourth highest unemployment rate in the nation, 9.3 percent -- higher even than the car manufacturing state of Michigan.
  • California has the second highest home foreclosure rate.
  • California’s tax-paying middle class is leaving the state. California’s net loss last year in state-to-state migration exceeded every other state's. New York, another Left-run state, was second.
  • Since 2000, California’s job growth rate -- which in the late 1970s was many times higher than the national average -- has lagged behind the national average by almost 20 percent.
  • California has lost 25 percent of its industrial work force since 2001.
Joel Kotkin, one of the leading observers of urban America, the presidential fellow in urban futures at Chapman University, recently wrote an essay on California, “Sundown for California.” He begins with these words:

“Twenty-five years ago, along with another young journalist, I co-authored a book called “California, Inc.” about our adopted home state. The book described ‘California’s rise to economic, political, and cultural ascendancy’...But today our Golden State appears headed, if not for imminent disaster, then toward an unanticipated, maddening, and largely unnecessary mediocrity.”

That is what left-wing policies have done to California. In Kotkin’s words, “the state legislature decided to spend its money on public employees and impose ever more regulatory burdens on business.”

Last week, Intel, the world’s largest maker of computer chips, announced that it would invest $7 billion to expand its facilities. Where? In Arizona, Oregon, and New Mexico. But not in California, the state in which Intel is headquartered.

The Left is bringing the greatest state to its knees.

What generations created, the Left destroys. There are few productive and noble institutions in America that the Left has not hurt or attempted to hurt. But while the Left destroys a great deal, it constructs almost nothing (outside of government agencies, laws, and lawsuits).

Go read the rest.

I like the fact that Mr. Prager uses the language correctly and calls the destructive force which is ruining, has in fact ruined, California leftism rather than liberalism.

A liberal is someone who believes what Thomas Jefferson believed. A leftist is someone who believes what V.I. Lenin, Adolph Hitler or Barack Obama believe. Not in the specific details but in the general worldview that the current order is in some way irredeemably "wrong" and must be replaced by something radically new.

For example contrast the opinion of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, whose basic message was liberal, that America must live up to its founding ideal that all men are created equal to that of Mr. Obama who believes that the founding was fatally flawed because it created a constitution which enumerates what the government may not do to the people rather than what it must do for the people. In other words the Framers were wrong to create a constitution which concerned itself with limiting the power of the federal government and preserving the autonomy of the states and the liberty of the individual. What they should have done, at least in the opinion of Barack Obama and his political party, is created a massive welfare state administered by an all-powerful central government.

This is the worldview which characterizes the left in whatever form it takes. Whether it is Robespierre's Committee of Public Safety, Lenin's Bolsheviks, Hitler's Nazis or Obama's Democrat party the unifying factor is the dream of an idealized society and the faith in the transcendent power of human government to achieve that vision.

And likewise what unites the left's opponents whether they are called classical liberals or modern conservatives is a deep skepticism about the power of government and an abiding faith in the ability of individual men and women to achieve a society which is not Utopian but "merely" decent - if they are left alone to do so.