Here is another explanation for why Nevada needs to take note of everything they are doing in California and then do the opposite.
In today’s Wall Street Journal, editorial page writer Allysia Finley interviews Joel Kotkin, a demographer and urban studies professor at Chapman University in Orange, Calif. Kotkin doesn’t really reveal anything about California that we don’t already know, but he takes many bits of string and ties them in a nice noose.
Kotkin explains that the main reason for California’s disintegration and fleeing population — 4 million in past two decades — is overreaching government, everything from high taxes to restrictions on housing that have made the coastal cities too expensive for an average family to live in.
“Basically, if you don’t own a piece of Facebook or Google and you haven’t robbed a bank and don’t have rich parents, then your chances of being able to buy a house or raise a family in the Bay Area or in most of coastal California is pretty weak,” Kotkin is quoted as saying.
Many have moved inland, but as Finley writes, they might as well move to Nevada or Texas where housing is cheaper and there is no income tax. Also, the commute is shorter.
Kotkin, who admits he voted for Gov. Jerry Brown, puts a lot of blame on Brown. The governor and his leftist Legislature are pushing still higher income taxes, expensive “green” energy, high-density housing, cutting off water to farm land to save threatened minnows, refusing to drill for known oil deposits, cap-and-trade laws and high-speed trains.
He heaps an extra helping of opprobrium on the high-speed, high-cost train initiative. “Where [Brown] with the state going bankrupt is even thinking about an expenditure like this is beyond comprehension. When the schools are falling apart, when the roads are falling apart, the bridges are unsafe, the state economy is in free fall. We’re still doing much worse than the rest of the country, we’ve got this growing permanent welfare class, and high-speed rail is going to solve this?” Kotkin remarks.
Cost is a key factor. “(I)f you’re a guy working for a Silicon Valley company and you’re married and you’re thinking about having your first kid, and your family makes 250-k a year, you can’t buy a closet in the Bay Area,” Kotkin says. “But for 250-k a year, you can live pretty damn well in Salt Lake City. And you might be able to send your kids to public schools and own a three-bedroom, four-bath house.”
California is turning into a two-and-a-half-class society, according to the demographer. There are wealthy entrenched incumbents, a shrunken middle class of public employees and a permanent welfare class made up of the 40 percent of Californians who pay no income tax. And this exacerbates the problem, because, as the moderates and conservatives flee, “the state is run for the very rich, the very poor, and the public employees.”
Now that is a lesson Nevada must learn before this fall’s election, because a lot of California-style progressive Democrats will be on the ballot instead of the bus out of town.
And if Kotkin can’t sway you, right below in the printed version is a piece by Art Laffer and Stephen Moore reporting that states without income taxes are growing, while states that keep raising taxes are shrinking. For some reason Nevada isn’t mentioned. The Kotkin interview is available online, but the Laffer-Moore piece is behind the pay wall.