California’s Third Brown Era


Jerry Brown’s no-frills inauguration today as California governor will make headlines, but the meager celebration also marks the restoration of one of the country’s most illustrious political families. Save the Kennedys of Massachusetts no clan has dominated the political life of a major state in modern times than the Browns of California. A member of this old California Irish clan has been in statewide office for most of the past half century; by the end of Jerry Brown’s new term, his third, the family will have inhabited the California chief executive office for a remarkable two full decades since 1958.

Brown, at 72 the oldest governor in state history, may well determine the final legacy of this remarkable family. His biggest challenge will be to reverse the state’s long-term secular decline — a stark contrast to the heady days of the first Brown era, presided over by paterfamilias Edmund “Pat” Brown.  read more »

The California Cheerleaders Are at it Again


State Treasurer Bill Lockyer and economist Stephen Levy published a piece in the Los Angeles Times that argues that California doesn't really have any fundamental problems. In their piece, Lockyer and Levy don their rose-colored glasses and give us the same tired old excuses, twisted logic, and factual inaccuracies.

I'll begin with the factual inaccuracies:  read more »

2010 Census: South and West Advance (Without California)


For a hundred years, Americans have been moving south and west. This, with an occasional hiccup, has continued, according to the 2010 Census.

During the 2000s, 84 percent of the nation's population growth was in the states of the South and West (see Census region and division map below), while growth has been far slower in the Northeast and Midwest. This follows a pattern now four decades old, in which more than 75 percent of the nation's population growth has been in the South and West. Indeed in every census period since the 1920s the South and West attracted a majority of the population growth.  read more »

Belly-Up In The Burbs: Bank-Owned Developments

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In 2009, the number of repossessed autos increased to 1.9 million. The number of homes under foreclosure varies from month to month, but the 2009 total was about 2.8 million. For 2010, it seems that a million new foreclosed homes would be conservative, with a large percentage in California. Miss a few payments on an auto loan and you may wake up to an empty driveway.  read more »

Hasta La Vista, Failure


In his headier and hunkier days, Arnold Schwarzenegger spoke boldly about how “failure is not an option.” This kind of bravado worked well in the gym–and in a remarkable career that saw an inarticulate Austrian body-builder rise to the apex of Hollywood and California politics.  read more »

If California Is Doing So Great, Why Are So Many Leaving?


Superficially at least, California’s problems are well known. Are they well understood? Apparently not.

About a year ago Time ran an article, "Why California is Still America's future," touting California's future, a future that includes gold-rush-like prosperity in an environmentally pure little piece of heaven, brought to us by "public-sector foresight."  read more »

Building the Train to Nowhere


The California High Speed Rail Authority has approved building its first 54 miles in the San Joaquin Valley. A somewhat longer route, 65 miles, has been indicated in a number of press reports, but Authority documents indicate that only 54 miles of high speed rail track will be built. The route would start in Corcoran, and go through Fresno to Borden, a small, unincorporated community south of Madera. All of this would cost $4.15 billion. The route would include two stations, in Fresno and Hanford/Visalia.  read more »

Education Wars: The New Battle For Brains


The end of stimulus — as well as the power shift in Congress — will have a profound effect on which regions and states can position themselves for the longer-term recovery. Nowhere will this be more critical than in the battle for brains.

In the past, and the present, places have competed for smart, high-skilled newcomers by building impressive physical infrastructure and offering incentives and inducements for companies or individuals. But the battle for the brains — and for long-term growth — is increasingly tied to whether a state can maintain or expand its state-supported higher education. This is particularly critical given the growing student debt crisis, which may make public institutions even more attractive to top students.  read more »

I Opt-out of California


Like the harried traveler who made famous the expression, “Don’t touch my junk”, I have elected my own personal protest, California style. I have decided to OPT-OUT of California to protest my overgrown state government. I am tired of California legislators sticking their hands in my pants to pay for the European style social welfare state they have created. My work, my earnings and my taxes will go elsewhere.  read more »

Looking Down Under for a California Turnaround

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At a time when government in California faces an existential crisis, it’s telling to observe a starkly different picture in Australia. Forty years ago, local officials in fast-growing suburban communities in Queensland, Australia looked to their colleagues in fast-growing suburban communities in California as kindred spirits. They began a tradition of trading annual exchange visits to compare notes. Last month I had the opportunity to participate in that exchange. This year’s gathering took place on the “Sunshine Coast” north of Brisbane.  read more »