“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,”
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.”
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.