Sunday, April 29, 2012

As California Goes...

Justice Louis Brandeis is usually credited with the idea that America’s states are the laboratories of democracy.

In his words:

"It is one of the happy incidents of the federal system that a single courageous State may, if its citizens choose, serve as a laboratory; and try novel social and economic experiments without risk to the rest of the country."

Of course, Brandeis was assuming that no American president would be so foolish that he would try to federalize policies that had failed on the state level.

He had not met Barack Obama.

At least, that is the point that demographer Joel Kotkin wants us to understand.

For some time now I’ve been following Joel Kotkin’s scathing critique of failed blue state policies in California. My last post linked here.

Kotkin is a self-labeled Democrat. If he sees a need to offer a stern critique of policies conducted, for the most part, by Democratic governors and legislators has special interest,  he must be seriously alarmed.

Kotkin is not spinning the facts to promote a political party or cause.

Yesterday, Kotkin upped the ante. Writing in The Daily Beast, he warned America, that, if it re-elects Barack Obama, he will use his second term to try to make America look more like California.

According to Kotkin, Obama is not just a Chicago Democrat. He is following policies that have failed in California.

Kotkin writes:

From his first days in office, the president has held up California as a model state. In 2009, he praised itsgreen-tinged energy policies as a blueprint for the nation. He staffed his administration with Californians like Energy Secretary Steve Chu—an open advocate of high energy prices who’s lavished government funding on “green” dodos like solar-panel maker Solyndra, and luxury electric carmaker Fisker—and Commerce Secretary John Bryson, who thrived as CEO of a regulated utility which raised energy costs for millions of consumers, sometimes to finance “green” ideals. 

Obama regularly asserts that green jobs will play a crucial role in the future of the American economy, but California, a trend-setter in the field, has yet to reap such benefits. Green jobs, broadly defined, make up only about 2 percent of jobs in the state—about the same proportion as in Texas. In Silicon Valley, the number of green jobs actually declined between 2003 and 2010. Meanwhile, California’s unemployment rate of 10.9 percent is the nation’s third highest, behind only Nevada and Rhode Island.

Right thinking people do not need to hear the warnings. They have been sounding them for years. Hopefully, Americans on the left or in the political center will heed Kotkin’s stark prediction:

Yet given the power of Californian ideas over Obama, one can expect more such policies from him in an electorally unencumbered second term. California’s slow-motion tragedy could end up as a national one.

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