From a column in today's Wall Street Journal by my Hoover Institution colleagues Michael Boskin and John Cogan:
California's rising standards of living and outstanding public schools and universities once attracted millions seeking upward economic mobility. But then something went radically wrong as California legislatures and governors built a welfare state on high tax rates, liberal entitlement benefits, and excessive regulation. The results, though predictable, are nonetheless striking. From the mid-1980s to 2005, California's population grew by 10 million, while Medicaid recipients soared by seven million; tax filers paying income taxes rose by just 150,000; and the prison population swelled by 115,000.
California's economy, which used to outperform the rest of the country, now substantially underperforms. The unemployment rate, at 10.9%, is higher than every other state except Nevada and Rhode Island. With 12% of America's population, California has one third of the nation's welfare recipients.
Twelve percent of the nation's population--but a third of the nation's welfare recipients. Once again, the Golden State leads the nation. Only this time, it's over a cliff.
Attempting to console myself, I recall that, during the one year I lived in New York City, during the administration of Mayor David Dinkins, everyone with whom I talked--co-workers, neighbors in the apartment building, people I'd run into at the diner--spoke incessantly about the ungovernability of the city. Things in New York would only get worse. They had to. There was no way out. A couple of years later Rudy Giuliani succeeded Dinkins--and began the transformation of the city.
It if could happen in New York, it can happen in the Golden State.