California's embrace of socialism should serve as a warning

California's embrace of socialism should serve as a warning
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For better or worse, the 50 states serve as the laboratories of democracy. Sometimes states pass laws that are overwhelmingly beneficial, causing other states to follow suit. Other times, states pass laws that are destructive, causing other states to learn valuable lessons about what not to do.

Over the past few decades, California’s embrace of socialist policies is a classic example of the latter. In other words, California’s adoption of far-left ideology, and the devastating toll it has wrought on the Golden State, should serve as a canary in the coal mine for any state wishing to follow California’s example.

The list of California’s socialist policies is extensive. For starters, California has been ground zero for the radical, socialist environmental movement that seeks to upend America’s energy system.

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In California, the renewable movement, which is front-and-center in the Green New Deal, has caused massive problems. Energy prices are skyrocketing. According to a recent report by the Center for Jobs and the Economy at the California Business Roundtable, “These outcomes mean that even as many households struggle under the current economic conditions, the state’s energy policies continue to take an increasing share of household incomes both directly in gasoline and utility bills and indirectly as these costs are incorporated into the prices of every other component of the costs of living.”

As if sky-high prices for energy were not bad enough, in California, blackouts have become commonplace because the state’s energy grid, which is more reliant on wind and solar power than any other state, simply cannot meet energy demand.

California Assemblyman Jim Patterson, vice-chair of the Committee on Utilities and Energy, recently said, “I have been warning over and over again that the policies coming out of the Democrat-controlled legislature and governors’ office are creating the conditions for blackouts and brownouts and here we are seeing the evidence.” Patterson is 100 percent correct.

Due to California’s far-left’s Green New Deal-like energy policies, Golden State residents pay extraordinarily high prices to power their homes and fuel their cars. But even worse, these ridiculous policies have led to massive energy shortages for millions of Californians.

But then again, shortages and socialism go together like peanut butter and jelly, so this should not be all that surprising.

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Aside from the energy debacle that has harmed Californians, far-left Golden State leaders have also enacted onerous taxes and regulations, which are causing a mass exodus of residents and businesses.

In June, California proposed hiking taxes on the state’s most productive residents yet again. If enacted, it would increase the top tax rate on millionaires in the Golden State to an unprecedented 54 percent. “The tax hikes would be the tipping point for many taxpayers, prompting them to book a one-way trip to one of the 49 states with lower taxes,” said Robert Gutierrez, president of the California Taxpayers Association.

In California, wealth redistribution via super high taxes, a central tenet of socialism, is causing massive turmoil. U.S. Census Bureau data show that 691,145 residents fled the Golden State in 2018.

As multiple reports show, California’s burdensome taxes are the overwhelming reason residents are feeling the state. Unsurprisingly, this has been a common theme in many socialist countries, as well.

There are several other socialist policies that California has implemented over the past few decades that are causing havoc and economic ruin. From outrageous housing costs and water shortages due to asinine environmental regulations to a huge increase in homelessness because of California’s generous welfare payments, the list goes on and on.

And, as these problems fester, California is doubling down on even more radical socialist policies. Already there is a universal basic income pilot program, “free college,” and all sorts of other failed socialist policies in place or on the docket.

In 1932, liberal Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis wrote, “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.”

Amen to that. If California’s decades-long romance with socialism has taught the rest of the country one thing, it is that these policies do not work and should not be implemented anywhere. Maybe one day Californians will realize this as well and reverse course.

Chris Talgo (ctalgo@heartland.org) is an editor at The Heartland Institute.