California smokin’

“I’d be safe and warm if I was in L.A.  California dreaming on such a winter’s day.”
-The Mamas & The Papas

According to a recent Wall Street Journal op-ed by George Gilder, “California officials acknowledged last Thursday that the state faces $20 billion deficits every year from now to 2016.”  Why is America’s richest and most innovative state unable to balance its checkbook?  Why aren’t the “world-changing” entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley who have created so much economic value for the state and the country doing more to solve California’s fiscal problem?  And why didn’t Silicon Valley do more to elect Meg Whitman, a person who could have addressed these problems with the energy and management ability she used to build eBay into an Internet powerhouse?

California rejected the conservative wave in the 2010 election.  The “Golden State” stands in stark contrast with other populous US states whose economies have been strangled by unions and sclerotic state governments.  Compare the following responses to blue state stagnation, indebtedness and corruption:

  • New Jersey elects Chris Christie governor.
  • Illinois elects Mark Kirk US Senator.
  • Massachusetts elects Scott Brown US Senator.
  • Pennsylvania, New York and Ohio elect about five new GOP House members each, plus two GOP senators and two GOP governors.
  • Michigan elects Rick Snyder governor.
  • In the same cycle as these GOP wins, California elects Jerry Brown governor over moderate Republican and former eBay CEO Meg Whitman and also picks Senator Barbara Boxer over former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina.

Huh?  In a state that has been bankrupted by entrenched unions … in a GOP wave election … California voters turned to 40-year government veteran Jerry “Moonbeam” Brown?  Seriously?  Over Meg Whitman, who turned a tiny startup into one of the world’s most successful businesses?  A woman whose moderate social views are not threatening to California voters?   We admit that Moonbeam is cooler than Meg.  But, one would think Silicon Valley would rather have a governor not beholden to unions.

Economically and culturally, California is America’s most important state.  Californians need to understand the reputation of their state has been damaged by its fiscal mess.  Federal taxpayers are angry about having to subsidize the fiscal recklessness of California’s state government.

Much has been written already about the irresponsibility of California’s government officials and the curious masochism of California voters, who re-elected nearly all incumbents in 2010.  A recent Wall Street Journal op-ed called California the “Lindsay Lohan of states.”  But one important story has not yet been written: the failure of Silicon Valley to fix Sacramento.  The entrepreneurial community in California should fight harder to fix its broken host state.  Think about how seemingly hopeless New Jersey and Louisiana have enhanced their reputations as business centers under the reform-focused leadership of Governors Chris Christie and Bobby Jindal.  That could have been California too.

Listen to Texas Governor Rick Perry, quoted in a recent Daily Caller article:

Perry said if you want less freedom and “a whole bunch of government services,” you can skedaddle over to California. “But if you want to live in a state where you’re more free — free from over-taxation, free from over litigation … come to Texas.”