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California, a State of Unintended Consequences

The unintended consequences of political activism generally hurts those it tries to help.

Over the last 50 years California has slowly turned from the Golden State to a State of Decline.  Having lived here the entire time, it appears to me one of the reasons for this decline is the unintended consequences from “feel good” politics.

This is brought to mind as we endure gas prices approaching five dollars per gallon.  There is plenty of oil, so why the sudden spike in prices?  One reason is that California has not built a gasoline refinery in this state for 32 two years.  Normally this would not be a problem; we could bring in gasoline from Texas or other states with additional capacity.  This cannot happen in California because we are using the special summer blend of gas which is only used in our state.  A special blend of gasoline in a State with no extra capacity in refining equals high prices and possible shortages when there is a refinery problem.

The above scenario comes to us from politicians and special interest groups pursuing their own agenda without concern for the greater population. There was a severe smog problem in Southern California and the summer blend was an attempt to correct the problem.  If the summer blend had been a great idea,
other States would have rushed to use it.  Then when this shortage came along, we would have been able to get help from the other States using the blend.

The second issue with gasoline is the questionable idea of global warming.  Anytime someone tells you something is a scientific fact and not open to debate, you should get nervous.  Science is about challenging all theories, even those which most people believe true. The belief that global warming is man-made
and the State has to restrict commercial activities to save the planet has made
it impossible to build more refineries in the State of California.  The fact that no refineries have been built since 1980, given the growth of the State, would lead one to believe there are less cars and less need for gasoline.  Does anybody think we need less gasoline now than we needed in 1980?  Normally the marketplace would have kept pace by building refineries to keep pace with the increased demand for gasoline.

This morning new, lower unemployment numbers were released. This number surprised me and I took a few minutes to look into the report. One of the things I saw is the large number of young people unable to find employment. For years our Liberal friends have pushed the idea of a minimum hourly wage. The large number of unemployed youth can be traced to the unintended consequence of requiring local businesses to pay a minimum wage.

Before minimum wage laws when a kid was in high school he or she could get a job at the local supermarket bagging groceries, at a fast food restaurant selling french fries, or at a service station pumping gasoline. The amount of money earned was low, but the benefits were vast. A young person who worked a job learned many useful skills such as dealing with the public, making correct change, the need to be on time each day and appropriate dress when working. These basic skills were used by the young person throughout their working lives. The young person’s protection from too many hours and low pay were their parents.

But those of the nanny state could not leave it alone, they had to inject themselves in the name of fairness and kill off the jobs. I’ve always felt self-serve gasoline was a direct result of minimum wage laws. When it became too expensive to hire a kid to pump gas, the service stations came up with an alternative. So the feel good group looked in the mirror and congratulated themselves for their good deeds and the young people lost employment opportunities. Unintended consequences have had a major effect on California.

Is there an answer to California’s problems?  I would like to think the answer is a trend toward personal responsibility and less government intervention.  I like the idea that a government that governs least, governs best.

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John B. Greet October 10, 2012 at 07:42 AM
mfriedrich: My EO numbers are only slightly different from yours and, to date, Obama has, indeed, signed fewer EO's than any of five immediate predeccessors (Carter - Bush 43) during their own first four full years. Obama still has a few months to go, of course and with any luck they will be his last. http://www.archives.gov/federal-register/executive-orders/disposition.html EO's alone, however, are not the sole guage of a President's level of activity or, in this case hyper-activity. One must also consider the scope and breadth of these orders. I think Obama's are more sweeping and far-reaching than those of his predecessors. The list of EO's establishing various unelected Commissions, Boards, Committees, Task Forces, etc is simply staggering to me and represents, I think, a level of federal government expansion -particularly appointees that are accountable to no one but Obama- that should be of great concern to all of us. Beyond even these, however, Obama's political push to see ACA passed through the Legislature and then to sign and enact it will surely represent the greatest level of of federal government expansion and power since FDR's New Deal.
Joker Joe October 11, 2012 at 02:49 PM
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KABC) -- Moody's Investors Service, a credit rating agency, is considering downgrading dozens of California cities because of bankruptcy concerns. The agency said Tuesday it will scrutinize the ratings of various types of bonds in 30 cities in the state. Moody's will examine an array of factors, including falling tax revenue and increased spending. Cities that it has targeted for possible downgrades are Azusa, Berkeley, Colma, Downey, Glendale, Huntington Beach, Inglewood, Long Beach, Los Gatos, Martinez, Monterey, Oakland, Oceanside, Palmdale, Petaluma, Rancho Mirage, Redondo Beach, San Leandro, Santa Ana, Santa Barbara, Santa Clara, Santa Maria, Santa Rosa, Sunnyvale, Torrance, Woodland, Danville, Santa Monica, Sacramento and Fresno. Moody's predicts more municipal bankruptcies and defaults in California, the nation's largest issuer of municipal bonds. Three California cities - Stockton, San Bernardino and Mammoth Lakes - filed for bankruptcy over the summer, although Mammoth's filing was the result of losing a lawsuit. Meanwhile, Moody's is considering upgrading San Francisco and Los Angeles.
Joker Joe October 11, 2012 at 02:50 PM
Vote like your wallet depends on it.... IT DOES.
Lawrence (Larry) McCook October 12, 2012 at 04:57 AM
John, Good article and great points! I co-chaired the 23rd Assembly District for Ronald Reagan in 1966 which went for Reagan. Reagan took over a state with wasteful spending and he left office leaving California a budget surplus. You are absolutely right. There has been a steady decline in California for 50 years. Reckless spending (sometimes just to garner votes) with no fiscal responsibility. Politicians find it easy to write checks using taxpayers money. It is too late to tell Sacramento not to spend money that California does not have in it's coffers. It will take many long years to dig out of this mess! Keep your articles coming.
Dan Avery October 13, 2012 at 04:07 AM
John, You have some logical problems here. I'll point out one " If the summer blend had been a great idea, other States would have rushed to use it." The summer blend was, according to you, developed to lower smog levels. So your logic doesn't follow. Other states with large populations, think the Eastern Seaboard, didn't have the level of smog problems that Southern California has because they have mass transit systems that work and get the people where they need to go. Southern California will it's lack of a grid and its love of the cul de sac can't create a workable mass transit system that gets people where they need to be. Back in New York, Boston, Washington D.C., people from all walks of life and all income levels use mass transit. Here it's just the poor people. We are swamped with cars and if we undo the things we've put in place to reduce smog then the smog levels will soar again. Your piece is riddled with that sort of faulty logic.

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