Thomas Sowell

Even amidst widespread hand-wringing about California's record budget deficit, bums on the streets in San Francisco still get monthly incomes of several hundred dollars each from the taxpayers, quite aside from what they can get panhandling on the streets. Every little city or county government offers all sorts of services free or at subsidized prices, even in the most affluent communities.

Since local governments are subsidized by the state government, all this free-spending largess comes home to roost in the state budget. Its deficit is like the ghost of Christmas past -- only every day is like Christmas in California, with the taxpayer in the role of Santa Claus.

Generosity toward those who are not producing is matched by hostility toward those who are. The greatest hostility is toward those who are producing what the state most needs -- more housing. The very word "developer" is anathema in California.

In other parts of the country, liberals have to dilute their liberalism with a certain amount of concessions to reality. But no such galling compromises are necessary in order to get elected in California.

Here you just advocate all the things that liberals find desirable and don't worry about whether they are mutually contradictory, such as "open space" laws and "affordable housing." Nor do you need to worry about whether all the heavy taxes used to finance giveaways are causing people and businesses to flee the state, taking the taxes they pay with them.

After all, there are plenty of illegal aliens and panhandlers coming in to replace them.


Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute and author of The Housing Boom and Bust.

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