Thomas Sowell

If you wonder what has gotten California in such an economic mess, here is a recent sample: The state legislature has passed a law requiring landlords to give tenants 60 days' notice, instead of 30 days, before evicting them.

In other words, if you are renting to a tenant who refuses to pay the rent, plays his music loud all night and makes himself a pain to all and sundry, he can give you the finger for two months before you can get rid of him -- all courtesy of California politicians.

If you think federal safety regulations go beyond all reason, they are nothing compared to California safety regulations. Among states with their own workplace safety regulations, in addition to the federal ones, California prosecutes more employers than all the other states put together.

High taxes on California businesses and high workmen's compensation costs are all part of the same anti-business mindset. Employees of these businesses do not get off scot free either. Other laws restricting the building of housing have given San Francisco the highest rents of any city in the country. Housing prices in the surrounding areas like Marin County and San Mateo County are sky high as well.

This means that people who work in such places in modestly paid jobs -- including nurses, teachers and policemen -- are usually forced to live far away and commute, spending three or four hours a day fighting congested highway traffic.

An insurance executive in Marin County said: "It probably costs us about $35 million a year in additional costs being based in Marin. Not a big percentage of our (5,600) employees live in Marin. They can't afford to."

The anti-business climate in San Francisco was a recurrent theme in interviews with local business leaders published in the December 28th issue of the San Francisco Chronicle.

One executive said: "When you look at the Board of Supervisors and how they talk about business, you'd think we were the enemy." Another said: "The city's lost 60,000 jobs and yet many members of the Board (of Supervisors) are doing everything they can to prevent job growth." He added: "The Board of Supervisors has to cut it out and start acting like adults."

No they don't! On the left coast, they can get elected and re-elected on anti-business rhetoric and anti-business policies. The same is true of the state legislators.

When the state budget is deep in the red, the state legislature's answer is to raise tax rates. Not only do they not want to cut spending, it would never occur to them that moderate taxes paid by more businesses could bring in more revenue.


Thomas Sowell

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

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