As California Goes, So Goes the US: How California Became France

21 Feb

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California leads the nation on economic and fiscal dysfunction and its problems are self-inflicted and avoidable,  writes Matthew Kaminski in today’s Wall Street Journal.  He  goes on to say that the Golden State “is in a French-like bind: unable to afford a welfare-type state, and unable to overhaul it.” Here are some of his California versus France parallels:

In the last three decades, California expanded the public sector and regulation to Europe-like dimensions. Schools, state employees, health care, even dog kennels, benefited from largesse in flush times. Government workers got 16 official holidays, everyone else six. The state dabbled with universal health care and adopted strict environmental standards. In short, California went where our new president and Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco want America to go.

The French have long experienced the unintended consequences of a large public sector. Ask them about it. As the number of people who get money from government grows, so does the power of constituencies dedicated to keep this honey dripping. Even when voters recognize the model carries drawbacks, such as subpar growth, high taxes, an uncompetitive business climate and above-average unemployment, their elected leaders find it near impossible to tweak the system.

This, according to Kaminski,  has been the story of France for years; and now it’s true for California. Read the entire article here.

France and California are among my favorite places. I’m cheering California on — hopefully our government leaders can turn it around.


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