Sunday, May 8, 2011

Sacramento Bee on California's Business Climate: Dude, Relax!

The dumbest editorial of the week has to go to this piece in the Sacramento Bee. The editors take on the recent Chief Executive report calling California the worst state in America for doing business. Except that they refuse to take any of the CEOs' criticisms seriously. Next, they move on to a report from the Public Policy Institute of California, which concluded that the state's economic growth in recent years has outpaced what one would expect given its high welfare spending and convoluted corporate tax structure. But they can't really make heads or tails of that either. So why do the Bee editors think California's economy is not as terrible as its awful spending and regulatory policies would lead one to expect? Dude! "The reason is obvious to any Californian, particularly one who has survived a Midwest or East Coast winter. Take a look out your window. Notice anything? Is the sun shining?"

Yes, this is the argument they're making. "Combined, the impact of mild weather, dry weather, industry composition, population density and proximity to a coast is about three times greater than the negative contribution taxes, regulations and other business issues." In other words, let's not actually think about the question we're trying to answer; it's a lot easier to evade the question, lazily cite a report from the PPIC, and talk about how California's weather covers over a multitude of sins.

Don't get us wrong; we love the weather here too. But we recently gave some serious thought to the question of California's business climate: why do many businesses think it's so bad, and how can the state's economy appear to be growing in spite of its apparent hostility to private enterprise? With regard to the latter, we believe that government spending and the growing public-private bubble in renewable energy technologies have been able to temporarily sustain the illusion of growth. And with regard to the former, it's hard to ignore the arbitrary and hostile regulatory climate California businesses confront, the impact of the state's high cost of living, high taxes, and poor schools on firms' ability to retain employees, and the widespread corruption and unbalanced budgets at all levels of state government. But hey, maybe the Bee is right: "Head to the river, drive to the ocean, get in some spring skiing or putter around the garden. All that is good. But with some tweaks here and there, our state would become much better." Dude! Righteous!


  1. I can't think of a state where I would have preferred to spend my last year of unemployment.
  2. But dude, there's nothing wrong with California's economy that a few tweaks here and there won't completely fix! Right? Right?
  3. Oh for shizzle. Once the CA legislature has all the exact right bans, regulations, and incentives in place, the economy will be as sunny as the weather.
  4. Thankfully they've had the vision to win the future with green energy!
  5. If they could just pass legislation that makes it sunnier, warmer, and milder here, we could nip this whole economy thing.
  6. It just occurred to me that the whole premise is faulty, because you don't get sunny, mild weather if you have "proximity to a coast" in California. Twitter and Zynga might be doing well in San Francisco, but they're doing it with a 12-month climate of foggy, 55-degree days.

    Come to think of it, how can you explain the boom in hiring in Silicon Valley these days given how rainy and cold the winter was?

    Questions like these make clear why I haven't been offered a job editing the Bee.