We’ve all seen it, the classic scene, chemistry students mixing chemicals in a lab and boom! An experiment gone horribly wrong. Sadly, California has become the failed experiment of liberal operatives. Taxifornia, a book by lawyer and Chief Counsel for Technology at the U.S. Department of Commerce Jim Lacy, addresses how the state has gone from America’s leader in job creation, booming opportunity, abundant agriculture and envy of many, to depressed liberal playground and leader in poor education, drought, energy overregulation and is purging job-creating businesses.
But how did the golden California of the 1950s become the sinkhole of the new millennium? In Taxifornia, releasing January 7, Lacy recounts the numerous factors in the destructive formula liberals concocted that have led the state of California to her knees. Lacy then suggests a path to recovery from California’s bad liberalism-induced hangover.
Having campaigned for and worked under Ronald Reagan in the 70s and 80s, Jim Lacy knows what prosperity looks like in California and how far the state has fallen from it.
In a recent interview, I asked Lacy what he hoped to accomplish with this book. He spoke of the horrendous statistics that have become depressing descriptors of California, he said, “It ought to be time to call these people out and to say ya know what, you are the people that are controlling the policies and making the policies and your [liberal] policies are rotting the economy.” He went on to say, “[F]or the second year in a row California has the highest poverty rate in the nation, despite the efforts of all these liberal Democrats who are supposed to be oriented towards fighting poverty. They’re making things worse. Californians really need to wake up and they need to understand that the special interests that control California . . . it’s these public employee unions that have spent almost ½ a billion dollars in politics in this state since the year 2000 to install liberal democrats in total control of the economy.”
Lacy then referenced the recent push in New York to attract businesses by offering tax breaks. He contrasted New York and California saying,
Even in the bluest state of New York, California is doing exactly the opposite, it’s imposing more taxes and higher taxes, highest income tax in the nation, highest sales tax in the nation, highest gasoline tax at the pump in the nation, highest corporate tax west of the Mississippi. All these taxes have created a rotten economic climate where not only poverty is at its highest, but other suffering is evidenced by the high unemployment rate. The national employment rate is about 7% . . . the statewide unemployment is 8.7% . . . in the central valley it’s approaching 10% and more . . . According to the stats, there’s over 6 million people in the state living in poverty and more children than any other state in the nation are living in poverty.
According to Lacy, his goal with Taxifornia is to “help build among Californians an understanding and a realization that the Democrats have to own this problem.” He says, “If they keep voting for Democrats, just like Einstein’s theory of insanity, things aren’t gonna change, they’re just going to get worse. The second point is California is recognized as a leader in the rest of the nation and the rest of the nation needs to beware not to fall into the trap of following California’s policy.”
Lacy pointed out the hypocrisy and deception of the Democrats’ policy:
Jerry Brown gloats, we’ve got a surplus. . . it’s a bunch of bologna that they have a surplus. They may have more revenues temporarily, but the way they segment the budget, they still have billions of unfunded liabilities for public employee pensions that are unaddressed and that are gonna explode and whatever minor surplus they think they have is at the cost of losing jobs, businesses fleeing the state and higher income people who actually pay the taxes fleeing the state which is very evident in the news.
Taxifornia also provides a chart of the ‘Total Money Spent by Top 18 California Special Interest Groups’ from 2000-2013, with the California Teachers Association(CTA) at the top of the list.
Lacy also calls out Mark Zuckerburg’s Silicon Valley Leadership Group comprised of “Washington operatives from both parties.” Largely a supporter of President Obama and ObamaCare, the group ran ads in 2013 supporting Lindsay Graham, “because of his support for comprehensive immigration reform.” Lacy points out, “It even used a shell organization called Americans for a Conservative Direction to mask its involvement.”
Another assault on California’s past successes is the crushing overregulation of energy production within the state. California is a rich source of energy, but plentiful and onerous regulations have dampened the ability to make use of those resources. Lacy points to an event the beginning of this environmental destruction, the 1969 Santa Barbara oil spill. He also points out politicians that have prostituted this event for political, not ideological, gain.
In Taxifornia, Lacy recalls, “In 1974, not too long after the Santa Barbara oil spill, Democrat Assemblyman Ken Cory was elected State Controller, winning the election with the slogan ‘the man the oil companies fear most.’ When Michael Barone of the American Enterprise Institute later asked Cory what the job of State Controller had to do with oil companies, he laughed and said ‘Nothing.’”
But is there still hope for the once gem state of the nation? Lacy offers a very tentative hope for the road to recovery in his last chapter, ‘California’s Long Shot to Rebound.’ Some of his recommendations include a resurgence of action on the part of California citizens, dramatic reform of public employee pensions, lower taxes, controlled spending, revisiting the idea of ‘Performance Review’, school reform, Hispanic outreach, new energy strategy, and involvement of government distrusting Silicon Valley entrepreneurs.
A note about the author: Lacy is no stranger to politics. He worked for Ronald Reagan’s first campaign for President where he lost the nomination to Gerald Ford and again when Reagan won election in 1980. After this and serving as an aid to Howard Jarvis, Lacy went to DC to work eight years for the Reagan Administration. Lacy now runs a law firm and political communications company and serves on the board of the American Conservative Union. Jim Lacey also published the California Political Review and writes for www.flashreport.org. Congressman Darrell Issa wrote the forward for Lacy’s book.