The indispensable Joel Kotkin, a professor of urban development currently residing in California, has a great piece in Forbes on the fate of his home state, and the way forward from the chaotic mess we currently see there. Governor Brown, he argues, has not turned out to be a man of change like Chairman Gorbachev was in the Soviet Union, but perestroika is not far off on the horizon for California.The Soviet parallel is entertainingly apt:
California’s “progressive” approach has been enshrined in what is essentially a one-party state that is almost Soviet in its rigidity and inability to adapt to changing conditions. With conservatives, most businesses and taxpayer advocates marginalized, California politics has become the plaything of three powerful interest groups: public-sector unions, the Bay Area/Silicon Valley elite and the greens. Their agendas, largely unrestrained by serious opposition, have brought this great state to its knees.
But Kotkin goes on to explain that this “troika” is losing its grasp. As deficits run up and stale “reforms” and tax hikes continue to keep California in a stall, voters are turning on the principles of these groups.Far fewer voters, for example, support Gov. Brown’s high-speed rail venture, which proves to be more expensive and unnecessary by the day. San Diego and San Jose have been some of the first cities to take on public-sector unions, showing how troublesome they can be to a city’s budget, and suggesting the same on the state level. The enormous tech sector in California will no doubt be a big asset to the state for years to come, but even it has hit road bumps recently, most notably a disaster of an IPO for Facebook, Kotkin points out.The first great leftie bard to sing about California was Woody Guthrie: California, he said, is a great place to be — if you’ve got the dough-re-me. Unfortunately his ideological successors don’t have enough dough-re-me to keep playing out their fantasy adventures and change is going to come.Read Kotkin’s whole piece. When something can’t go on forever, it won’t, and that is the point California is reaching today.