– Legislative Analyst Gabriel Petek, on California’s $68 billion deficit
What Was It Like?
California, without question, is a great state to be from. We lived there for nearly 45 years. We made our California exodus in July 2022. No regrets.
In fact, not living in California becomes a greater blessing with each passing day. Moreover, depending on the time lived there, and the decades encompassed, plenty of insight can be found in the answers to three simple questions.
What was it like? What happened? What is it like now?
The answer to the first question comes with warm reminiscence. A fond nostalgia for a California that long ago faded from existence.
In the early 20th century, before the mania to splatter every square foot of the LA Basin’s surface with concrete took hold of the local spirits, the place was a magnet for eccentrics and madmen. On any average day, Howard Hughes, a total lunatic, would crash test his latest flying machine into Beverly Hills.
Italian immigrant Simon Rodia, however, was the real archetypical California oddball. For reasons unknown, and between swigs of malt liquor, he worked nearly every day from 1921 to 1955 chicken wiring steel pipes and rods together, erecting numerous towering eyesores in his backyard in the Watts district of Los Angeles.
Then, after 34 years of this madness, Rodia, on a whim, deeded the property to his neighbor and hopped a bus to the East Bay. No one in Watts ever heard from him again. But his monstrosities, known as the Watts Towers, are now a National Historic Landmark. Go figure?
There was also Griffith J. Griffith, who amassed a fortune in the mining industry. That was before he shot his wife in the eye while staying in the presidential suite of Santa Monica’s Arcadia Hotel.
To make good for his transgressions – and to commute his time in San Quentin to just two years – Griffith donated the land for Griffith Park to Los Angeles and funded the City’s observatory. Without Griffith’s private act of preservation, the city wouldn’t have any remaining land that’s not covered with concrete.
These were the sorts of wacky and wild characters that roamed about when state and local governments were small and feeble. When crime was low, and optimism was high. And the only direction the economy could go was up.
This was back when the infrastructure shined. And Hollywood made descent movies. It was also the beginning of a long property boom…where, for the next 50-years, property values went up without interruption.
Even the most harebrained business ventures were almost guaranteed to succeed. For example, you could buy an old mail service boat – like John Clearman did – tow it from the Long Beach Harbor up to a wide open corner lot on Huntington Drive in the San Gabriel Valley, plop it down, and get rich selling cheese toast and red cabbage salad out of it.
This was before zoning codes, land use master plans, and city permits spoiled all the fun. Was the world a better place? It was certainly freer.
Private eccentricity in California these days has been regulated away like the free-flowing carburetor. In its place, there’s now state-sponsored Transgender History Month – the nation’s first of its kind – and countless other acts of public madness. The cutting edge of public policy, guided by academic retards, slices through the land.
Over several decades, state and local governments were taken over by control freak sociopaths. Moreover, their socialist policies transformed many of the urban areas into unlivable hellholes.
Shelling out for all the waste championed in Sacramento and various City Halls made it impossible for the average guy, who just wanted to work hard and pay his way, to get ahead.
What Is It Like Now?
Today, California persists as a place of sky-high taxes, crumbling infrastructure, woke idiocy, and mass homeless encampments. Where grifters and freeloaders hold hands in symbiotic disharmony. Together, they exercise the malady of a mega homeless industrial complex in return for government lard.
In the City of Los Angeles, over 46,000 homeless people thrash about on the concrete each night, setting fires and burning down bridges. If you broaden the envelope to include Los Angeles County, that number jumps to over 75,000.
Despite hundreds of millions of dollars being spent to fight homelessness these numbers keep going up. This doesn’t make sense until you understand how it all works.
The primary objective of the homeless industrial complex has nothing to do with getting people off the streets. Rather, dollars alone equal victory. And more money is the ultimate aim.
Unfortunately for taxpayers, more money isn’t limited to securing private funds. It involves appropriating public funds and directing them towards the technocratic vision of forced philanthropy.
According to a 2022 city audit, in the City of Los Angeles it costs $837,000 to build a single housing unit for one homeless person. In another instance, because of self-imposed regulatory knots, it took 17 years to build 49 affordable housing units in Boyle Heights.
Yet, this madness extends statewide. In San Jose, for example, it costs $938,700 to build a single unit of affordable housing. Certainly, there’s plenty of grift built into California’s homeless industrial complex. Did you get your cut?
California Circles the Toilet Bowl
Alas, countless other examples of government insanity extend up and down the entire state. Take the California Teachers Association. Rather than teaching reading, writing, and arithmetic, the massive state teachers union hides student gender identities from parents as a matter of legal policy.
So, now, with all these displays of public madness, California is circling the toilet bowl.
Quite frankly, the golden state has run out of money to finance all the bloat, grift, incompetence, and stoopid diktats. This was the conclusion that was recently provided by the Legislative Analyst’s Office. From the Executive Summary of California’s 2024-25 Fiscal Outlook:
“California Faces a $68 Billion Deficit. Largely as a result of a severe revenue decline in 2022?23, the state faces a serious budget deficit. Specifically, under the state’s current law and policy, we estimate the Legislature will need to solve a budget problem of $68 billion in the upcoming budget process.”
If you didn’t know, in California the top 1 percent of taxpayers pay 50 percent of state income tax. The top 0.1 percent pays a third. Politicians exploit this progressive tax system by making outrageous promises to the non-taxpaying masses.
As CalMatters notes, Governor Newsom will likely close the record deficit by dipping into $24 billion of emergency funds and by commandeering $10 billion previously allocated for transportation, environmental and education programs.
By our rough calculation that cuts the $68 billion deficit in half. Where will the other $34 billion come from? Will the top 1 percent pay it?
Come January 1, the top income tax rate spikes to 14.4 percent, up from 13.3 percent. Moreover, workers making over $61,214 will pay 10.4 percent of their income to the state, which is up from the current 9.3 percent.
This is in addition to federal income tax, social security tax, medicare tax, sales tax, property tax, and numerous other licensing fees and exactions. There’s also the inflation tax. This is why in many parts of California a pre-tax income of $61,214 won’t get you very far.
Indeed, California’s a great state to be from. Thus as California circles the toilet bowl the state exodus goes on.
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