12.12.2012 2

California’s reverse alchemy

NRD Editor’s Note: This column originally appeared at TheHill.com.

California State FlagBy Rick Manning — I have a confession.

I was born and raised in California. I was educated in the state, and attended the University of Southern California.

I have spent decades defending the state against the charge that it is the land of flakes and nuts.

But there is a reason why California has become a national laughingstock.

Believe it or not, the California State Legislature is considering legislation that would overturn local laws that prevent homeless people from urinating or defecating on public sidewalks and streets. The same city that requires dog owners to clean up after their pets would be required to allow humans to use their walkways as toilets.

Sure will make for an attractive stroll down Hollywood Boulevard for the average tourist.

California is so far in debt that 7.9 percent of its entire budget is consumed just paying the interest payments. One would think that a state that is drowning in red ink would be setting priorities, making cutbacks, taking on the tough budget decisions. Not in Sacramento — no sirree, in California’s capital they actually decided in the face of an increasingly insurmountable deficit to move forward with spending billions of dollars to build the first leg of a new bullet train.

Now for the even more absurd part: The train itself relies upon 60-year-old technology that is being replaced in Japan. The new Japanese train will be able to travel at more than 300 miles per hour, while California’s “state of the art” train will have a top speed of just above 200 miles per hour. Spending billions you don’t have to build something that uses outdated 1960s technology?

That’s California. It’s just so retro.

But the theater of the absurd that is administered over by Governor Moonbeam himself doesn’t end there.

California’s top industry is agriculture. After all, it is the only industry that cannot pick up and move.

You would think that the state would zealously guard its top industry, but you would be wrong, as voters overwhelmingly approved an initiative that protects the rights of chickens that produce eggs by ensuring that they have a suitable living space. The result? Idaho and other states immediately started recruiting California egg farmers to move.

The California dairy industry is also under siege as the state controls the price of milk, and, in its all-knowing way, has left the price so low that dairy farmers are losing money on every glass they produce. With the Midwestern drought driving feed prices higher, the additional squeeze is causing many formerly prosperous dairy farms to sell their livestock and close down in order to pay the banks.

Just another consequence of California’s government doing the short-term political thing — keeping milk prices low, and reaping the cost of losing at least part of its dairy industry.

California used to be known as the Golden State, but today it is derisively laughed at as the state that killed the goose that laid the golden egg.

Rick Manning is the communications director of Americans for Limited Government.

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