Blue States Double Down On Suicide Strategy

Appearing in:

Forbes.com

Whatever President Obama proposes in his State of the Union for the economy, it is likely to fall victim to the predictable Washington gridlock. But a far more significant economic policy debate in America is taking place among the states, and the likely outcome may determine the country’s course in the post-Obama era.

On one side are the blue states, who believe that higher taxes are not only just, but also the road to stronger economic growth. This is somewhat ironic, since, as we pointed out earlier, higher taxes on the “rich” would seem to hurt their economies more, given their high concentration of high-income earners. However, showing themselves to be gluttons for punishment, many of these states have decided to double down on high taxes, raising their rates to unprecedented levels.

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California Becoming Less Family-Friendly

Appearing in:

Orange County Register

For all of human history, family has underpinned the rise, and decline, of nations. This may also prove true for the United States, as demographics, economics and policies divide the nation into what may be seen as child-friendly and increasingly child-free zones.

Where California falls in this division also may tell us much about our state’s future. Indeed, in his semi-triumphalist budget statement, our 74-year-old governor acknowledged California’s rapid aging as one of the more looming threats for our still fiscally challenged state. Read more

Prescription for an Ailing California

Appearing in:

Orange County Register

Only a fool, or perhaps a politician or media pundit, would say California is not in trouble, despite some modest recent improvements in employment and a decline in migration out of the state. Yet the patient, if still very sick, is curable, if the right medicine is taken, followed by the proper change in lifestyle regimen.

The first thing necessary: Identify the root cause of California’s maladies. The biggest challenge facing our state is not climate change, or immigration, corporate greed, globalization or even corruption. It’s the demise of upward mobility for the vast majority of Californians, and the rise of an increasingly class-ridden, bifurcated society.

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California’s Demographic Dilemma

Appearing in:

Orange County Register

It’s been nearly 20 years since California Gov. Pete Wilson won re-election by tying his campaign to the anti-illegal immigrant measure Proposition 187. Ads featuring grainy images of presumably young Hispanic males crossing the border energized a largely white electorate terrified of being overwhelmed, financially and socially, by the incoming foreign hordes.

The demographic dilemma facing California today might be better illustrated by pictures of aging hippies with gray ponytails, of legions in wheel-chairs, seeking out the best rest home and unemployed young people on the street corner, watching while middle-age families drive away, seeking to fulfill mundane middle-class dreams in other states.

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Facebook’s IPO Testifies to Silicon Valley’s Power but Does Little for Other Californians

Appearing in:

The Daily Beast

The $104 billion Facebook IPO testifies to the still considerable innovative power of Silicon Valley, but the hoopla over the new wave of billionaires won’t change the basic reality of the state’s secular economic decline.

This contradicts the accepted narrative in Sacramento. Over five years of below-par economic performance, the state’s political, media, and business leadership has counted on the Golden State’s creative genius to fund the way out of its dismal budgetary morass and an unemployment rate that’s the third highest in the nation. David Crane, Governor Schwarzenegger’s top economic adviser, for example, once told me that California could easily afford to give up blue-collar jobs in warehousing, manufacturing, or even business services because the state’s vaunted “creative economy” would find ways to replace the lost employment and income. California would always come out ahead, he said, because it represented “ground zero for creative destruction.”

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The Top U.S. Regions for Technology Jobs

Appearing in:

Forbes.com

With Facebook poised to go public, the attention of the tech world, and Wall Street, is firmly focused on Silicon Valley. Without question, the west side of San Francisco Bay is by far the most prodigious creator of hot companies and has the highest proportion of tech jobs of any region in the country — more than four times the national average.

Yet Silicon Valley is far from leading the way in expanding science and technology-related employment in the United States.

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The New Class Warfare

Appearing in:

The City Journal

Few states have offered the class warriors of Occupy Wall Street more enthusiastic support than California has. Before they overstayed their welcome and police began dispersing their camps, the Occupiers won official endorsements from city councils and mayors in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Oakland, Richmond, Irvine, Santa Rosa, and Santa Ana. Such is the extent to which modern-day “progressives” control the state’s politics.

But if those progressives really wanted to find the culprits responsible for the state’s widening class divide, they should have looked in a mirror. Over the past decade, as California consolidated itself as a bastion of modern progressivism, the state’s class chasm has widened considerably. To close the gap, California needs to embrace pro-growth policies, especially in the critical energy and industrial sectors—but it’s exactly those policies that the progressives most strongly oppose.

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As California Collapses, Obama Follows Its Lead

Appearing in:

The Daily Beast

Barack Obama learned the rough sport of politics in Chicago, but his domestic policies have been shaped by California’s progressive creed. As the Golden State crumbles, its troubles point to those America may confront in a second Obama term.

From his first days in office, the president has held up California as a model state. In 2009, he praised its green-tinged energy policies as a blueprint for the nation. He staffed his administration with Californians like Energy Secretary Steve Chu—an open advocate of high energy prices who’s lavished government funding on “green” dodos like solar-panel maker Solyndra, and luxury electric carmaker Fisker—and Commerce Secretary John Bryson, who thrived as CEO of a regulated utility which raised energy costs for millions of consumers, sometimes to finance “green” ideals.

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As Filmmaking Surges, New Orleans Challenges Los Angeles

Appearing in:

Forbes.com

For generations New Orleans‘ appeal to artists, musicians and writers did little to dispel the city’s image as a poor, albeit fun-loving, bohemian tourism haven. As was made all too evident by Katrina, the city was plagued by enormous class and racial divisions, corruption and some of the lowest average wages in the country.

Yet recently, the Big Easy and the state of Louisiana have managed to turn the region’s creative energy into something of an economic driver. Aided by generous production incentives, the state has enjoyed among the biggest increases in new film production anywhere in the nation. At a time when production nationally has been down, the number of TV and film productions shot in Louisiana tripled from 33 per year in 2002-2007 to an average of 92 annually in 2008-2010, according to a study by BaxStarr Consulting. Movies starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Morgan Freeman, Harrison Ford are being made in the state this year.

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President Obama Courts Silicon Valley’s New Digital Aristocracy

Appearing in:

The Daily Beast

President Obama’s San Francisco fundraiser with the tech elites today, along with the upcoming IPO for Facebook, marks the emergence of a new, potentially dominant political force well on its way to surpassing Hollywood and even Wall Street as the business bulwark of the Obama Democratic Party.

In 2008 the industry gave Obama more than $9 million, three times what it raised for any other politician; it was the first time the digerati outspent Hollywood. The numbers will surely go up this year.

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