Will Los Angeles be the next city to be destroyed by blue politics? Late last year, the Los Angeles 2020 Commission, a committee of “lawyers, developers, labor leaders and former elected officials,” released the first half of a report outlining the city’s myriad disasters: a massive poverty epidemic, $10 billion in unfunded pension liabilities, a collapsing tourism industry, heinous traffic, and a terrible job market (LA is the only U.S. city with a net decline in jobs in the past decade). The NYT reports:
Their conclusions amounted to an indictment of a city and its culture, a place that the commission said was brimming with talent and resources but was nonetheless falling behind other major cities across the globe.“Los Angeles is barely treading water, while the rest of the world is moving forward,” the commission said. “We risk falling further behind in adapting to the realities of the 21st century and becoming a city in decline.”“Year by year, our city — which once was a beacon of innovation and opportunity to the world — is becoming less livable,” the report said.
This week, the commission finally came out with the promised second half, a set of suggestions, but it didn’t quite live up to its billing. The small-bore fixes on offer include moving municipal elections to increase voter turnout and creating an office to evaluate the impact of new laws on the economy. And when it comes to pensions—one of the biggest problems facing the city—the group punted, calling for the creation of another commission to deal with the problem.These aren’t bad ideas, necessarily, but they’re woefully ill-suited to solving the massive problems described in the first half of the report. It’s difficult to see how they would do much to reduce poverty or improve the business environment in the city. Like many blue cities, Los Angeles suffers from excessive regulations, high taxes and poor fiscal mismanagement on the part of the city government, all of which make it difficult for businesses to operate. Many are fleeing the state for neighbors with friendlier business climates. This, in turn, makes it difficult both for the thousands of low-income Angelinos to find good jobs and for the city to raise the taxes needed to pay for the expensive social services for the poor. Mismanagement of the city’s pension systems for public sector workers only exacerbates the problem.Los Angeles 2020 is right that the city must change course, but the changes needed go much deeper than many residents would like to admit.