California is a heck of a place. At least it is if you're trying to do business.
It's careening from crisis to crisis, and its leadership is determined to keep it shut down. It's so bad, you could say that crises are California’s new normal.
As we consider its travails, keep in mind that California Gov. Gavin Newsom, who has led a charmed life, wants to be president next time around.
Newsom has easily climbed the political ladder for years—actually, he's ridden a gilded escalator. He garnered the good graces of the Getty family (one of the richest in American history), is related through marriage to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and his family is aligned with the Brown family, with its two governors, Pat Brown and Jerry Brown.
A favorite of California kingmaker Willie Brown, Gavin was appointed by him to the San Francisco Parking and Traffic Commission and later its Board of Supervisors. Newsom went on to become mayor of San Francisco and then lieutenant governor of California (a nearly ceremonial position).
A guy like that would have to have designs on the presidency, wouldn’t he?
The problem, of course, with being a governor—especially of a state the size of California—is that if the trains don’t run on time, you get the blame.
High-Speed Rail/Water/ElectricityTo be sure, Newsom inherited the messes created by the two-decade rule of the Democratic Party in California. If we start with high-speed rail—that was Jerry Brown’s legacy project that very few want now.
Although he initially signaled that he might step away from it, once Trump demanded back the project’s federal money, Newsom found himself partisan bound to fight for the project. Sadly, no one truly knows how much the scandal-ridden project will cost—but it’s in the tens of billions, and the public has turned against it.
Newsom also inherited the fight over water. Western water fights are legendary. California has a water delivery system designed for just over 20 million people, but nearly 40 million people are in the state at any one time when California is open for business and tourism.
Incredibly, despite its need to deliver water to residents, businesses, and especially farmers, California allows trillions of gallons of water each year to gather in its streams and then rivers on its way to the ocean. You see, environmentalists, unhindered and/or supported by Newsom, don’t want humans to get the water. Instead, many Democrats want to limit people in California to 50 gallons a day, and some of their legislators believe farming harms the environment.
There is opposition to the Democrats’ plans, including one of the state’s largest Facebook pages, “My Job Depends on Ag,” but it remains true that even in good rain years, farmers have to fight to get water even though the great Central Valley helped end world hunger—something you would think the Democrats would celebrate.
Next up, electricity. The world knows of California’s wildfire electricity nightmares. That too can be blamed on government or quasi-government policies. The main provider, PG&E, put off maintenance and upgrades too long and bowed to environmentalists, who wouldn’t allow safe pruning of trees near power lines.
That two decades of overgrowth and lack of maintenance caught up with PG&E in the form of wildfires of monstrous proportions, which have been happening during—wait for it—California’s fire season. Yes, California has a season for that in the fall. You would think the powers that be would do what they could to avoid danger.
They haven’t, however, and PG&E, which needs a bailout from its fire liability, has responded by shutting down power when its windy. Mega-businesses like tech have many times threatened to leave the state if California can’t deliver reliable electricity.
ShutdownOf course, that was when it was open.
Now with its COVID-19 response, one has to wonder why anyone would start a business in California. Gavin “I want to be your president” Newsom has said things will not return to “normal” in California until there is a vaccine for COVID-19.
Given that there never has been a vaccine for something like COVID-19, that's quite the death-knell for businesses. There isn’t even a serious discussion of how and when California’s tourism industry, that is, hotels, restaurants, and the like, can truly reopen.
Oh, and finally, Newsom now says that the state deficit will be over $54 billion. Of course, that's more than the entire budgets of 41 states. Tax hikes anyone?
To fight Newsom’s shutdown, countless lawsuits have been filed, which is ironic. It's ironic because California has filed over 60 lawsuits against the Trump administration over its rules. Now Newsom is the subject of countless lawsuits over his many questionable executive orders.
Rather than deal with lawsuits, many more will simply leave—like the major employer Tesla. For some strange reason, Elon Musk thinks he should be allowed to reopen his business. When he said he would leave in response to the prolonged shutdown, a leading Democrat—the one who authored the job-killing, anti-independent contract bill that Newsom signed, tweeted, “[Expletive deleted] Elon Musk.”
Musk replied: “Message received.”
Sadly, it has been by so many—just not by the politicians like Gavin Newsom who is running California into the ground.