Starting a business can be pretty ugly in Greece. Their rank is 140th out of 183. Even Botswana makes it easier than Greece. Of course, California is no longer the shining city on the hill either – in fact, its big cities are pretty dismal when it comes to job growth. Of the largest cities in America, the highest ranking California city comes in at #42. Shockingly, it’s the bastion of left-wing politics, San Francisco. Of the 66 largest cities in America, four of the bottom ten are located in California. The Golden State seems more like pewter these days.
Yet, California ignores all the hints from across the sea that it needs to change its ways. Scandinavian countries have increased their retirement age to 67 while California dithers. There was some talk of pension reform in a recent deal that Arnold cut with four government unions, but it was smoke and mirrors that didn’t fool anyone. With a $19 billion budget hole, cutting possible pensions for employees who haven’t been hired yet won’t really slice too much from that crushing amount. The state payroll has grown 31 percent in ten years, and now stands at 356,000 employees. Significant employee reductions need to be made and fast.
There are now 12,000 state employees receiving pensions over $100,000 per year, and that number will only grow in the near future. A real leader has to step up and threaten to take California into bankruptcy over these outrageous pension and health benefits. The people of California should be unwilling to pay them. Why should hard-working Californians pay their public employees benefits that far exceed anything the residents themselves have any hope of receiving? If the matter goes to court and a judge says that we have to pay it, the Governor should tell the judge to go out and collect the taxes himself.
Sanity has to be brought back to California. Greece has opened the eyes of some people here, but not enough. The government wonks are still out of control. In May, California added 28,300 jobs of which 30,000 were in the government. You read that correctly -- the private sector lost jobs while government added 30,000 new positions. One might ask the simple question of where the revenues are coming from to pay for these new positions.
We will see in November whether Californians have come to their senses. We have a contest for Governor between someone who has perpetuated this problem for 40 years, Jerry Brown, and a new face ready to confront the challenges, Meg Whitman. If Brown wins, Greece may be looking like an attractive place to relocate.