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.”