California: The Next Economic Dustbowl

Next week a group of California lawmakers is traveling to Texas to meet with business owners there to find out why they left.  These are business owners and their families who left the Golden State for the Lone Star State.  They left because they could not see through the economic “dust” swirling here.

 In the mid 1930's thousands of families left the Great Plains because of dust.  This was the dust caused by over-farming the land and poor agriculture policies, combined with the uncontrollable weather.  There was nothing left for these families in the heartland in the nation, so they headed west looking for something green.  This desperate migration is happening again for different reasons.

 A study by the Brookings Institution shows that in the last ten years middle class California families have been packing up the moving trucks and moving out.  It's not just white families, either.  Blacks, whites, Asians and even Hispanics are abandoning the California dream and heading to states like Texas or Nevada where there are no state income taxes and no oppressive business rules and regulations. 

 The study shows that the list of reasons for leaving go deeper than just the “dust” of the economy, but the roots of the problems are all about money.  It says people are leaving because of taxes, high housing costs, bad schools, punishing regulations, draconian environmental laws and one party politics.  The political aspect of this began years ago when whites began leaving first, taking with them their Republican-leaning ideas and concepts.

 So, now we have a state that is larger than most countries with a huge infrastructure of highways and bridges and pension debt that we need to support and fewer and fewer taxpayers to support it.  When those state lawmakers travel to Texas next week to find out why people are leaving, maybe they too will decide there is no reason to come back.  The economic “dust” is swirling here at home, and unless it starts raining money, the state changes it's political attitude or learns to live within its means, California will probably keep shrinking.

Categories: Becker’s Digital Notebook