It's Becoming Springtime for Dictators


In a rare burst of independence and self-interest, the California Legislature, led by largely Latino and Inland Democrats, last month defeated Gov. Jerry Brown’s attempt to cut gasoline use in the state by 50 percent by 2030. These political leaders, backed by the leftovers of the once-powerful oil industry, scored points by suggesting that this goal would lead inevitably to much higher fuel prices and even state-imposed gas rationing.

Days later, however, state regulators announced plans to impose similarly tough anti-fossil-fuel quotas anyway. This pronouncement, of course, brought out hosannas from the green lobby – as well as their most reliable media allies. Few progressives today appear concerned that an expanding, increasingly assertive regulatory state, as long as it errs on the “right side,” poses any long-term risks.

Welcome to the new age of authority, in which voters’ mundane concerns are minimized, and the bureaucracy – backed by an elected executive – rules the roost, armed with full confidence that it knows best. Nor is this merely a California phenomenon. Rule by decree has become commonplace in Washington, D.C., as President Obama seems to dictate policies on everything from immigration to climate change without effective resistance from a weak Congress and a listless judiciary.

While no modern leader since President Richard Nixon has been so bold in trying to consolidate power, this centralizing trend has been building for decades. Since 1910, the federal government has doubled its share of all government spending to 60 percent and grows ever more meddlesome in people’s daily lives. Its share of GDP has now grown to the highest level since the Second World War.

Read the entire piece at The Orange County Register.

Joel Kotkin is executive editor of and Roger Hobbs Distinguished Fellow in Urban Studies at Chapman University, and a member of the editorial board of the Orange County Register. He is also executive director of the Houston-based Center for Opportunity Urbanism. His newest book, The New Class Conflict is now available at Amazon and Telos Press. He is also author of The City: A Global History and The Next Hundred Million: America in 2050. He lives in Orange County, CA.

Flickr photo by Pranav Bhatt of drivers in Los Angeles.


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Who will speak for our people?

It's not just the upper-middle-class environmentalists' campaign against cheap energy that threatens the poor, but unrestricted trade with low-wage countries like China and mass unskilled immigration from countries like Mexico. In traditional, pre-modern societies the governing elites regarded the common people as a species of domestic animal. Now, despite the Industrial Revolution replacing peons with machines, we seem to be headed that way again, only this time in the form of a racially-stratified caste society.