I wanted to try something atypical with this blog, so I decided to showcase an outstanding book, which I have recently read, titled Crazifornia by Laer Pearce. This well crafted book reveals how California is destroying itself and why California’s decline matters to the rest of America. The book also highlights how the government and the press have failed to disclose the real truth about California’s decline.
Most Americans know only the basic facts about California. The state has one of the highest income taxes / highest corporate taxes / highest personal capital gain taxes / highest corporate capital gain taxes in America. California also has one of the highest sales taxes / highest gas taxes / and – well, I could go on and one with the state’s never-ending, high-end taxes. The bottom line? For many individuals who work in California, for every dollar earned, there’s only 51 cents left in our pockets to spend – after all of the California taxes.
So, what else do Californians NOT know? Plenty. Let’s take the governor election of 2012. The election was framed as a choice between the wealthy elite of Meg Whitman and the poor man’s champion of Jerry Brown. Which candidate had more money? The Brown family, from Pat Brown to Jerry Brown, had a hidden fortune, obtained through the sale of Indonesia oil through a Hong Kong shipping company. Indonesia coup. Two million murdered. Off shore account. California’s governor is wealthy, not poor.
Most Californians do NOT know the real size and cost of our government. We have 380 different agencies – with all of them enacting more and more expensive regulations. Most Californians do not know the current outcome of those regulations / anti-business policies and the state’s declining fiscal health. The state has lost hundreds of companies and tens of thousands of individuals who have moved out of state. Worse, it has lost much of its tax base and most of its middle class. Consequently, the state has a declining median household income and an ultra-massive disparity between the wealthy and the poor.
Most Californians like to applaud the high quality of our highly-rated colleges. Some of them rank as the best in the nation. But Californians do not like to discuss the failings of our primary school system that feeds those colleges. Compared to other states, we recently ranked 46th in math, 48th in reading, and 49th in science. How can that decline have happened? Isn’t California’s government supposed to direct 40+ cents of every general fund tax dollar for education? In truth, it can’t. California does not have sufficient funds despite all of its taxes.
Laer Pearce provides clarity (and stories) when explaining the problems with our government and the lack of disclosure by our press. I can only muster my own interpretation from his well-told “tales from the tarnished state.” From my standpoint, our government is supposed to offer a balanced budget, but it is balanced by smoke and mirrors. The government’s real money – the money already in its coffers – is not sufficient to meet its goals. Many key areas of funding, including our schools, are well below the promised, targeted amount. Californians – and their children – suffer; and most of the time, the parents do not even know why or how life has become so difficult.
We can’t fault the state’s governors and legislatures for not trying. California, to gather more and more taxes, has changed its constitution 500+ times in 130+ years, or almost four constitutional amendments per year. California’s government has been especially hectic / horrific since the good old days of Ronald Reagan; and the government’s activities – ballot initiatives / tighter regulations / higher taxes – have backfired, placing its citizens in financial straits. Currently, our schools / our highways / our water and power systems: they are buried under regulatory burdens and debt.
What has ignited this wide-spread, systemic decline? It was a noble cause. California elected to take the lead in promoting environmental health. We passed the Global Warming Solutions Act; and we created the Green Chemistry Initiative Act. Valid idealistic goals. Easy to sell to an environmentally conscious public. But here is the unfortunate, untold truth. California – and its citizens – are failing to meet the costs associated with those goals. The higher taxes and tighter regulations have made matters worse, not better. Today, we are failing to reach our environmental goals. We are losing more than clean air and clean water; we are losing our standard of living and personal / corporate wealth.
As Californians, we have a choice. How can we keep our state clean? And how poor are we willing to become as individuals to achieve that goal? Are we willing to be the most taxed population on the planet? Are we will to drive away our businesses and middle class? Are we willing to have our children raised with an insufficient education? Or can there be a different approach? Something better than just stricter regulations / higher taxes? This blog is not an attempt to be political; it is an attempt to make everyone aware that Californians have a choice to make – and that choice should be an informed choice.
For Californians, is not an easy or clear-cut choice. But, as a fellow Californian, we need to decide how to move toward our environmental goals without bankrupting our businesses / citizens. We need to re-evaluate our regulatory burdens and all those governmental agencies that control those regulations. We need to re-evaluate our taxes and the tendency to drive away our tax base. We need to re-evaluate our flood of ballot initiatives and the real purpose of those ballot initiatives. We need to re-evaluate all aspects of our Californian life style, possibly prioritizing our children’s education as much as our environment. So many choices that need to be addressed. Yet, the government and the press are not forthcoming with the facts. So, may I suggest that we become better educated on our own? As a good starting point, try reading Crazifornia.
And as for the rest of America? What do I recommend?
Watch California and decide if you like what you see …
If you don’t, maybe you too should also do a little reading?