Kotkin: CA’s Tribal Politics

As I’ve noted in the blog numerous times, if you want to see the future of America (in terms of demography and one-party rule), look to California.

In “California’s Tribal Politics”, Joel Kotkin writes:

To my fellow residents, and particularly fellow taxpayers of California, I have a special message: Your concerns don’t matter much anymore. Rather than a functioning democracy, California has become a one-party state dominated by a series of tribes whose special priorities are sacrosanct, however much they might hurt the rest of us.

In Gov. Jerry Brown’s California, the ruling tribes include the unions, the greens, the racial warlords and urban land speculators. All of these have flourished under Brown’s rule, and, as he and his occasional bouts with reality leave the scene, the tribes will only be further emboldened.

The steady erosion of the Republican Party has eliminated the need for Democrats to even feign moderation. Over time, moderate Democrats get purged, even in the interior of the state, as gentry liberals like Tom Steyer work to assure that the San Francisco agenda is imposed on Fresno.

Unions uber alles

Even by the standards of California politics, the California Teachers Association wields enormous power, and uses its massive political war chest to prevent serious reform of our low-functioning education system, which just received an impressive C-minus from a recent Education Week survey. Our system may have failed many of our young people, particularly in minority districts, but the union has done well by its members, guaranteeing them the maximum time off, virtual protection from being fired, and, of course, lavish pensions.

Now the teachers, aided by their “Mini-Me” legislators, have their eyes on a virtual exemption from paying income taxes. One rationale is to make up for high housing prices, although many of the “veteran educators” targeted by this legislation bought their homes long before the recent inflation of real estate prices. And, if teachers are special, why not firemen, policemen, sanitation workers or, for that matter, people who work in restaurants and hotels?

It seems odd that people who earn higher salaries — and have far better pensions — than the ordinary Californian, would be privileged in a move likely to worsen the state’s declining finances.

And when CA becomes like Puerto Rico, on the verge of bankruptcy, you can bet the Feds (e.g., taxpayers from across the country) will be bailing out CA’s profligacy.

In another column, and a harbinger for the country’s future as a whole, Kotkin writes (“The other California: A flyover state within a state”):

California may never secede, or divide into different states, but it has effectively split into entities that could not be more different. On one side is the much-celebrated, post-industrial, coastal California, beneficiary of both the Tech Boom 2.0 and a relentlessly inflating property market. The other California, located in the state’s interior, is still tied to basic industries like homebuilding, manufacturing, energy and agriculture. It is populated largely by working- and middle-class people who, overall, earn roughly half that of those on the coast.

Over the past decade or two, interior California has lost virtually all influence, as Silicon Valley and Bay Area progressives have come to dominate both state politics and state policy. “We don’t have seats at the table,” laments Richard Chapman, president and CEO of the Kern Economic Development Corporation. “We are a flyover state within a state.”

Virtually all the polices now embraced by Sacramento — from water and energy regulations to the embrace of sanctuary status and a $15-an-hour minimum wage — come right out of San Francisco central casting. Little consideration is given to the needs of the interior, and little respect is given to their economies.

San Francisco, for example, recently decided to not pump oil from land owned by the city in Kern County, although one wonders what the new rich in that region use to fill the tanks of their BMWs. California’s “enlightened” green policies help boost energy prices 50 percent above those of neighboring states, which makes a bigger difference in the less temperate interior, where many face longer commutes than workers in more compact coastal areas.

The new Bantustans

Fresno, Bakersfield, Ontario and San Bernardino are rapidly becoming the Bantustans — the impoverished areas designed for Africans under the racist South African regime — in California’s geographic apartheid. Poverty rates in the Central Valley and Inland Empire reach over a third of the population, well above the share in the Bay Area. By some estimates, rural California counties suffer the highest unemployment rate in the country; six of the 10 metropolitan areas in the country with the highest percentage of jobless are located in the central and eastern parts of the state. The interior counties — from San Bernardino to Merced — also suffer the worst health conditions in the state.

These same dynamics are taking place across Western Europe, with the example of France being my next post.

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