"California, here we come! . . . Oh, no, wait, let's get the hell out of here!"
If it seems like more and more people are fleeing California to start new lives elsewhere, it's because they are. In the last two decades, four million more people have booked it out of this perhaps-not-so-golden state than have entered from other parts of the country. Need further proof? Just check U-Haul rates.
What's the matter with this place? Joel Kotkin thinks he knows. A leading demographer and a fellow at Chapman University, he talks about the state's demise in a Wall Street Journal piece titled "The Great California Exodus." He was interviewed by opinion writer Allysia Finley, who has lambasted California's economic and political policies before. (In 2010, Finley, a former Orange County Register intern, called California the "Lindsay Lohan of states," describing it as "a prima donna who once showed some talent but is now too wasted to do anything with it.")
According to Kotkin, here are a few reasons why California sucks.
Government restrictions on development. Policies have artificially limited housing supply and put a premium on real estate in coastal regions, the piece argues. "Basically, if you don't own a piece of Facebook or Google and you haven't robbed a bank and don't have rich parents, then your chances of being able to buy a house or raise a family in the Bay Area or in most of coastal California is pretty weak," Kotkin says.
Jerry Brown's green focus. Kotkin blasts the governor's dream of green jobs replacing all "tangible jobs" that the state has been losing in the fields of agriculture, manufacturing, warehousing and construction. "Green energy doesn't create enough energy!" he says. "And it drives up the price of energy, which then drives out other things." He later adds, "You see the great tragedy of California is that we have all this oil and gas, we won't use it. We have the richest farm land in the world, and we're trying to strangle it."
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Taxes. The piece cites that California has the 48th-worst business tax climate according to the Tax Foundation. Middle-class workers pay a higher income tax percentage than what millionaires pay in 47 states. Kotkin believes that the governor's November ballot initiative to raise taxes even more for "millionaires" (those who make more than $250,000 a year) is going to hit "small business owners and the young family that's trying to accumulate enough to raise a family" because in many parts of California, $250k isn't all that much.
But . . . but . . . but . . . what about our sunshine?! And beaches! And beautiful people!
Read the full piece here.