Trump adviser and distinguished economist Larry Kudlow wants to put socialism on trial, challenge it, debate it, rebut it — and convict it.
“I don’t want us to stand idly by,” Kudlow said at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Maryland. “I don’t want to let this stuff fester.”
It was an inspiring performance and the proper response to the madness fanatically endorsed by the likes of Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Kudlow’s speech was needed in today’s uninformed political environment. But it was just a speech. Meanwhile, a real trial is in session in California, which is steadily moving toward the outer reaches of the fringe on the political left.
To be fair, California does not have a socialist government. It’s not Cuba, North Korea, or even Venezuela, though it’s not hard to find some who will point out this state has some of the same political defects that exhausted and impoverished the latter.
California, which passed 1,016 news laws in 2018, is more of a welfare state. High taxes fund services and redistribute the wealth, and government intrusion into private affairs, from crackdowns on raw milk sales and soda, to banning Happy Meals with toys, and outlawing cars that run on gasoline, has become commonplace. These are done to benefit “the people,” but are pretenses for increasing government muscle. It’s the Blue State model, in which political society, ruled over by policymakers and bureaucrats, chases out civil society, an arrangement marked by openness, freedom, independence, and voluntary interdependence.
Much of the rest of the country might think Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal, enthusiastically supported by California Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris and more than two dozen of California’s Democratic representatives in the House, is a radical departure. But California has already gone there. From cutting cattle flatulence emissions to curbing commercial air travel to Stockton’s universal basic income program in which some residents receive $500 a month in pre-loaded debit cards, this state has yoked residents into its own raw deal.
In pursuit of a “progressive” utopia, California has crafted a welfare state that is more generous than the deluxe systems found in the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, and Sweden. While some European nations have pulled back on their welfare programs because of the harm they’ve caused, California plunges ahead.
Advocates demand a $400 billion single-payer health care system funded by taxpayers, and aside from a governor who just left office, no one is telling them “no.” Lawmakers have introduced legislation, Assembly Bill 2, that would make the second year of community college as “free” as the first is now, and are considering extending partially paid family leave funded by taxpayers to six months. Sacramento is also building new hurdles for charter schools that provide needed educational choices, which help students and parents escape the public schools that are failing yet continue to be lavished with dollars they don’t have to account for. A $15-an-hour minimum wage is on its way.
If California’s governing system were being tried in court, prosecutors would enter into evidence the gap between the wealthy and the poor in California, with a shrinking middle class in between. The state is fast becoming a domain in which a few live well while the masses live in misery, one of the bitter hallmarks of socialism.
At the same time, the regulatory machine created by California’s Blue State model is driving out businesses. As many as 13,000 fled from 2008 to 2016. The tech monsters of Silicon Valley will remain. But those who fled are jurors rendering their verdict on the state.
Also reminiscent of socialist failure abroad is this state’s recent history of bungling wide-eyed infrastructure projects. The high-speed rail is a historic stumble and scandalous misappropriation of public funds; the $52 billion road-repair plan is a heavy-handed fix for years of legislative neglect; and the twin tunnels proposed to carry water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta south to farmers and consumers each feel like part of a five-year plan concocted by a central-planning committee.
California, a state in which every problem, both real and imagined, is addressed by increasing the power and reach of government, where legislation is banged out first and questions asked later — if at all — is steamrolling toward a catastrophic moment. Absent enormous change, it will be convicted, the sentence too harsh to imagine.
Kerry Jackson is a fellow with the Center for California Reform at the Pacific Research Institute, a nonprofit group advocating for limited government.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.