Oregon Magazine
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A PLEA FOR THE NORTHWEST

June, 2011 -- We’ve all heard for some time of the financial mess in California:  out of control government spending, inadequate or non-existent budgeting, an insatiable appetite for green technologies that have ruined the energy economy they were supposed to replace, excessive regulation, illegal immigration, businesses and residents moving away in droves, a real estate bubble burst, an enlarged bureaucracy of entrenched government unions, government payrolls averaging well above levels of the private sector it taxes, pension costs swallowing current expenditures with uncounted, unfunded debt no one wants to admit to...and the list goes on.  All of this has killed this once-great state.

The only thing good about California’s continuing implosion is that we here in the Northwest are able to observe the ruination, and wonder (like we did regarding Joplin, Missouri) what it is like to experience such devastation.  Oh, and the only good part?  Our two Northwest states might,--just might-- learn what to, and what NOT to do, to avoid our own demise.

Disasters come in two forms

Give me natural devastation any day over what’s happening in California.  Joplin, Missouri’s destructive tornado came and went, but that city’s sudden tragedy is bringing it and the surrounding region together like nothing else could.  Joplin will rise and be better than ever despite the shocking, sad loss of life and all the decimation.  However, the slow destruction and deaths of families, small businesses and culture in California is doing just the opposite:  it’s tearing the populace and the fabric of California apart for good.  It’s strangling, destroying, or dispersing what once was the 9th greatest economy in the world.

It started over forty years ago when progressive Democrats took command of California government.  The State Assembly (House) learned how to spend without any limits, while ensuring its electability.  That body was where the Pelosis, Starks, Waxmans and so many others learned they could do anything they wanted to do, while believing that the private sector goose will produce golden eggs forever.  It was California, the Golden State, where riches were unlimited if you just assumed it so.  

Even today, one can point to all those profitable high-tech companies that call California home.  Doesn’t their success prove this philosophy of no limits?  No.  Individuals and corporations are not tied to a place or a financial basket.  The Googles, Apples, Hewlett Packards and other Silicon Valley success companies have already insulated themselves from California’s problems, as private sector corporations must.  Their assets are spread out all over the world, their products made almost anywhere but California, and their exposure to state government malfeasance remains relatively low.  They probably don’t even hold much in the way of dollars anymore.  They’ve moved their assets off-shore as it were, some to other states, some to other countries, but their direct exposure to California’s woes is minimized.  That’s private capital watching out for itself:  it saves, prepares and survives.  When you’re creating wealth you tend to be a steward of it.  

Government is the problem, not the solution

But California’s governing majority Democrats?  Well, it never was their money, and stewards they certainly were not.  No state savings, no state preparations, and no state survival.  It’s that simple.  The libertarian concept of limited government is going to crash its way into California’s existence before our very eyes, caused by the very folks who wanted the opposite, but have produced government’s virtual tornado.  Unlike in Joplin, there won't be anyone who will want to repair the damage. 

Such is what is happening to our big neighbor to the South.  

If we had been smart (we weren’t) the Northwest could have been a refuge for the wise who have moved out of California to more responsible states.  But Oregon and to a slightly lesser degree, Washington, both dominated by copycat progressives, have become miniature Californias, adopting most of her environmental, regulatory, budgeting, financial and political methodologies.  Because we trumpeted this progressive movement, the conservative, welcoming states of Texas, Wyoming, Arizona among others are benefiting from California’s successful exiles, not us.  Jumping out of one frying pan produces a strong motivation to avoid others.  They aren’t moving to Illinois, New York or Michigan either, also Democrat-dominated.  It’s called voting with their feet, and it represents one of the most dramatic shifts in our nation’s economic and electoral history since Manifest Destiny (a theory for another article).  

Having copied California’s poorly designed political blueprints, we in the Northwest are fortunate only because we lag behind them time-wise.  We still have a window of opportunity to recognize the problem and to avoid the very same financial cliff.  But only if our politicians are willing to admit the mistakes of their blind faith in the socialistic, liberal (progressive), communistic theories that have led us all to the brink.  One way or another, Oregon, Washington and this nation’s governments are going to be limited.  There are definite reasons for a growing segment of the Northwest population buying and storing packaged food, ammunition, guns and hand tools.  Should we hope they will not have to rely upon their preparations?  

Question::  Will Kitzaber, Gregoire, and Northwest Democrats acknowledge, and more importantly, take action to motivate the private sector to help the Northwest avoid an economic, political and cultural tornado?  It’s the only solution left to a civilized community, not just to repair the damages, but to lead to the successes that once were the norm for this region, and for this nation.  It requires a reaffirmation of free markets and capitalism, and a willingness to once again believe in the power of citizens steering their own courses.  

                             -- AH

© 2011 Art Hyland