09.21.2012 0

Obama plays follow the leader down tarnished Golden path

California State FlagBy Rebekah Rast — From the Gold Rush to a now mass exodus, from President Ronald Reagan to now Gov. Jerry Brown and from a booming Silicone Valley to now fallow fields in the Central Valley; to say the state of California has changed over the years is an understatement.

California has the ninth largest economy in the world.  Once booming with private corporations, agriculturally rich farmlands and tourists, the state is now losing businesses, much-needed food crops and even vacationers.

How did the state that all other states sought to emulate fall to the bottom?

Along with pristine beaches and beautiful weather, California also has a tax base unfriendly to businesses and those with wealth; it has a rampant environmental movement destroying communities and industries and caters to and favors the public sector union workforce so much so you’d think the state was on a mission to commit economic suicide.

Sound familiar?

If you’re thinking all this sounds a lot like the same issues plaguing the United States of America, you’re correct.

California has the third highest unemployment rate in the nation at 10.7 percent and $500 billion of unfunded liabilities of its pension systems and a roughly $16 billion deficit.

The U.S. hasn’t broken out of an unemployment rate at 8 percent or above for 43 months—since the first month President Obama took office.  Despite its efforts to revamp civil and military retirement plans and pensions, USA Today reported in 2011 that the federal retirement programs now have a $5.7 trillion unfunded liability. For 2012 alone, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projects a federal deficit of more than $1.1 trillion.

As if this wasn’t enough, the tax structures between California and the U.S. also have much in common.

In California, the wealthy pay about two-thirds of all the incomes taxes. In the U.S., Forbes reports that in 2009 the top 1 percent of income earners earned 13.4 percent of the nation’s income, these individuals paid 38.7 percent of federal income taxes that year.

Yet what is heard from Gov. Jerry Brown? Tax the rich! And President Obama is not shy in his political ads, on the campaign trail and even in the White House about his strong desire to raise taxes on America’s “wealthy.”

It appears the U.S. is doing a wonderful job following the path of California.  However, this skewed rendition of follow the leader leads to nowhere good.  Even California Gov. Jerry Brown admits, “We have lived beyond our means.”

It would be best for America if its elected leaders came to the same conclusion and begin the arduous process of establishing and passing a sound budget.

Unfortunately, the similarities between California the U.S. don’t stop at fiscal insanity.  The radical environmental movement happening in California is also occurring on a much grander scale throughout the country.

In California, due to the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and the U.S. Forest Service, a once robust and necessary industry was shut down about 20 years ago over an owl.

The Northern spotted owl was once thought to only be able to survive in old forests—overgrown and unmaintained.  So when it became an endangered special in 1990, and even before, great cutbacks were made in the logging industry throughout California, Oregon and Washington states.  Ironically, the Obama administration recently admitted that the owl still hasn’t made a comeback and so has decided to kill a more dominant owl species in hopes of rejuvenating the spotted owl’s population.

Another area pained by an out-of-control environmentalist agenda is the Central Valley in California.

Agricultural production in the Central Valley accounts for $26 billion in total sales and 38 percent of the Valley’s labor force.  Farmers in this area grow more than half the nation’s vegetables, fruits and nuts.

But in order for these products to grow, they need water—and the past few years the government has been withholding that vital resource.

The problem is the government wants water to be retained in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, California’s main water source, to protect a three-inch fish called the delta smelt and other salmon species. Because this is an ongoing case, with the federal government using the ESA to protect the fish species, farmers have been forced to take severe cuts in their water distribution.

Since farmers don’t know one year to the next how much water they will receive, they must make the difficult decision of what to plant and what once-productive farmlands to leave fallow.  This does nothing but leave this region with some of the highest unemployment in the nation, destroying livelihoods and families.

For comparison, in the U.S. there’s been a war on coal, and according to the Sierra Club, a war on oil and natural gas as well.

Just recently, heavily due to harsh and overbearing Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations, Alpha Natural Resources announced that it would be closing three Virginia coal mines and five other mines in West Virginia and Pennsylvania resulting in the destruction of 1,200 more coal mining jobs.

But while coal is caught in the EPA’s crosshairs for now, other federal government departments continue to put their own environmental interests far above those of its people with devastating results.

After fire, floods and mudslides destroyed the water source of 1,500 residents in Tombstone, Ariz., last year, the U.S. Forest Service wouldn’t allow the necessary machinery in to fix the water lines because they are located on government-owned land. After a year of unsafe water, residents had to use horses and shovels to fix their own water lines.

Unfortunately for both California and the U.S. the list of environmental oversteps and atrocities go on.

Since the U.S. has found its fiscal and environmental paradigm in California, the American people are able to see a very real and unsightly picture for what is to come if the country continues in this direction.

While the weather and beaches may still be appealing, the Golden State has lost its shine.  It would be wise for America to plod a new path that will not only preserve the strength and freedoms it has achieved, but will set an example, that if followed, can even make California golden once again.

Rebekah Rast is a contributing editor to Americans for Limited Government (ALG) and NetRightDaily.com.  You can follow her on twitter at @RebekahRast.

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