Sun is Setting on California!
I just spent a glorious, sunny weekend in Sonoma County, California I took a long walk up Sonoma Mountain, and saw fields of poppies, grazing alpaca, lots of mossy little oak trees, acres of Pinot Noir grapevines and GREEN (not wheat brown) hills, from a winter of abnormal rain. It took my breath away. I’m a fifth generation native of this state and it is breaking my heart.
California is burning through cash like no tomorrow. After building up state spending from the taxes on the dot.com goldrush, things haven’t been the same in the decade since. The state’s budgetary crisis, a product of fiscal incontinence and a catastrophic recession, is destroying the finest public university system in the world, not to mention its public schools, roads, hospitals, etc. Raising taxes, already among the highest in the nation, will only drive more jobs away. The state stands to lose a Representative in Congress after the 2010 census for the first time since the state was founded!
Moreover, the bitterly polarized politics in the state do not apparently permit a civilized solution. Governments as well as people finally hit bottom when they run out of cash, and no-one will lend them money. Felix Rohatyn has suggested creating domestic version of the International Monetary Fund to manage the workouts of state and municipalities that cannot manage their own financial affairs. It’s a great idea, but they might have to hurry up. California is like a once beautiful heiress that has squandered a substantial inheritance and is lying in her bedroom drinking chardonnay and popping pain pills waiting for the sheriff to come and lock her out of her condo. Her freckles have turned to melanomas …