Blame ultra-liberal policies for California’s free fall

During the Democratic Party convention that took place over the weekend in California, candidates not hewing to today’s progressive manifesto were loudly booed. John Hickenlooper, former governor of Colorado, was jeered by the liberal audience when he dared to say that “socialism is not the answer.”  

Similarly, former Maryland Representative John Delaney was heckled for saying that “Medicare for all” is “actually not good policy nor is it good politics.” That apostasy led “the Boss,” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), to chastise Delaney for this “awful untrue line” and to tell him to “please sashay away” from the Democratic primary.

It turns out that Democrats may champion free health care and free college, but they sure don’t like free speech — even from the mouths of their own candidates.

But the most astonishing thing about the progressive free-for-all that took place in and around San Francisco was not the obvious distaste for debate or the lack of tolerance. It was is that nobody addressed the elephant in the room: namely, that the city, and the state, are a mess.

The quality of life in California is in free fall thanks to liberal policies exactly like those the candidates want to impose on the entire nation.

Did any candidate notice the squalid tent cities and the human waste fouling the streets of what was once one of America’s most beautiful cities?

Did anyone pay attention to the rising crime rate and soaring cost of living? Or the net exodus from the high-tax state, especially by millennials? From 2007 to 2016, California saw its population shrink by 2.5 percent, losing a net 1 million residents. Call me crazy, but that does not seem like a great report card on the state’s management, or uber-liberal policies.

According to a poll taken earlier this year by Edelman Intelligence, 53 percent of Californians are considering leaving the state, up from 49 percent the year before. Among millennials, the figure is 63 percent, a response that makes New York look downright popular.

Out-of-control housing costs is one reason so many are thinking of quitting the Golden State; high taxes is another. In 2018, California boasted the highest marginal tax rate in the U.S., at 12.3 percent, with an additional 1 percent slapped on to those making $1 million or more.

The majority of people moving to California are migrating in from other high-tax locales like New York, New Jersey and Illinois; they must not know any better, or maybe this is a bizarre manifestation of Stockholm Syndrome.

It’s not just overly taxed fat cats fleeing California; a separate report from the state’s Legislative Analyst’s Office found that families with children and people without a college degree are also departing en masse. They simply cannot make ends meet.

In other words, California legislators, who endlessly proclaim their concern for the poor, have embraced policies that are driving low-income people out of their state. California is ranked by CNBC as the second-most expensive state in the country, behind only Hawaii.

CNBC also ranks the state 48th in cost of doing business, which may be why thousands of firms are leaving California for friendlier locales.

What are some of those policies that are driving people and businesses out? You can start with environmental diktats that have prevented the construction of new homes, leading to sky-high housing costs, a prime turn-off for millennials.

In 2016, McKinsey Global Institute reported that half of California households — 50 percent — cannot afford the cost of housing in their local market. 

Policies that have jacked up the cost of gasoline are another culprit. In the lead-up to Memorial Day, as Americans planned road trips to celebrate the long weekend, Californians were paying average gas prices of $4 per gallon, more than a dollar above the national average of $2.90. 

That huge premium is not because California is located far away from refiners, it is because the state has discouraged investment in needed fossil fuel-related infrastructure, like refineries, offshore exploration and pipelines, in a misbegotten belief that the world would happily convert to electric cars overnight. 

California’s energy costs may get much worse. The state has committed to ambitious goals of generating half of its electricity from renewables like sun and wind over the next decade, up from 16 percent today. 

Some experts expect the abandonment of nuclear power and fossil fuel generation facilities to lead to the kind of outages and rolling blackouts that plagued the Golden State back in 2000 and 2001.

California’s energy costs are already the second-highest in the nation; the renewables mandate may scratch an environmental itch, but it will surely mean residents soon pay more for gasoline, or heating oil and electricity. 

Real people living in California suffer the fall-out from policies like those that were cheered by Democrats eager to retake the White House in 2020.

These are policies that lead to high prices for housing and energy, a laissez-faire approach to law and order that leads to tent cities and rising crime, rising spending that demands exorbitant taxes and big government programs that mean diminished personal freedoms.

Voters across the nation should take note, even if the candidates themselves notice nothing.

Liz Peek is a former partner of major bracket Wall Street firm Wertheim & Company. For 15 years, she has been a columnist for The Fiscal Times, Fox News, the New York Sun and numerous other organizations. Follow her on Twitter: @lizpeek.

Tags Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez California California housing shortage Cost of regulations Homelessness John Delaney John Hickenlooper Millennials Renewable energy supply and demand

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