California’s Left-Wing Oligarchy Profits from “Scarcity”

There is no good reason for home prices and rent to be so much more expensive in California than they are in the rest of the country. The supposed shortages of land, energy, and water, as well as the poor condition of our roads and freeways, are all problems that might have been avoided by good government.

California’s punitively high cost of living is the result of conscious choices made by California’s state legislature, and the primary force behind these choices is not desire to protect the environment, it is greed. The people who profit by artificial, contrived scarcity, don’t want anything to change. They are the utility companies, the trial lawyers, the Silicon Valley “green” entrepreneurs, and billionaires who already own the artificially limited supplies of land and housing.

California receives between 150 and 300 million acre feet of precipitation per year. This, plus desalination and sewage reuse, along with reasonable conservation measures, guarantee ample supplies of water. There is no water shortage, only a shortage of creative policies to increase water supply.

California has 163,000 square miles of land, and less than one-fourth of that land is prime agricultural land. In fact, the absolute prime farmland is less than one-tenth of that amount. It is an absurd falsehood to state that new suburbs, even if they’re built to house another 10 million residents, are going to use up all of California’s open land. There is no shortage of land.

California sits on the Monterey shale formation, a massive onshore deposit of oil and gas that could yield tens of billions of barrels of oil. If California permitted safe extraction of in-state natural gas and built natural gas power plants to generate more electricity, their electricity would be cheap and affordable instead of the highest priced in America. There is no shortage of energy.

Public sector unions, the senior partners in California’s leftist coalition, love the doctrine of scarcity. When no tax revenue goes into infrastructure spending, there’s more money available to keep their pension systems solvent. Endlessly appreciating asset values thanks to artificial scarcity also helps the pension funds which invest in these assets. And when home prices are stratospheric, property tax revenue also helps pay their bloated compensation. Ironically, if these public servants made less, it would help free public investment in infrastructure to lower the cost-of-living so they wouldn’t have to make so much to live and work there.

California’s left-wing oligarchy distracts voters with unfounded panic over environmental concerns, as if Californians, of all people, cannot figure out how to safely build up water infrastructure, energy extraction, and new home construction. Public funds, and, more significantly, unleashed private funds and private investment via regulatory reform, could easily facilitate abundant supplies of water, energy, and housing.

The trump card used to stifle dissent, however, is the threat of “climate change,” wherein virtually any development, anywhere, is alleged to contribute to “greenhouse gas emissions.” California’s left-wing oligarchy has convinced the average Californian that anyone who even questions these theories is either morally bankrupt or mentally unhinged. All development projects must tip-toe around the beast of climate change, which in practical terms means only permitting ultra-high density housing and rationing of energy and water.

If that trump card isn’t sufficient, and it usually is, the other trump card wielded by California’s left-wing oligarchs is to completely change the subject, and convince millions of voters that the only thing really worth thinking about are issues of race and gender discrimination—concerns that have far less basis in fact than the reality of California being totally unaffordable. And they are laughing all the way to the bank.

About Edward Ring

Edward Ring is a senior fellow of the Center for American Greatness. He is also is a contributing editor and senior fellow with the California Policy Center, which he co-founded in 2013 and served as its first president. Ring is the author of Fixing California: Abundance, Pragmatism, Optimism (2021) and The Abundance Choice: Our Fight for More Water in California (2022).

Content created by the Center for American Greatness, Inc. is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a significant audience. For licensing opportunities for our original content, please contact

Support Free & Independent Journalism Your support helps protect our independence so that American Greatness can keep delivering top-quality, independent journalism that's free to everyone. Every contribution, however big or small, helps secure our future. If you can, please consider a recurring monthly donation.

Want news updates?

Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.

3 responses to “California’s Left-Wing Oligarchy Profits from “Scarcity””

  1. According to Wikipedia, California has a land area of 163,696 square miles, and an estimated 2017 population of 39,536,653. Comparable values for the combined mid-Atlantic states of NY, NJ, and PA are 41,660,580 and 109,383 respectively.

    Thus population density in the mid-Atlantic states is 380.0 persons per square mile, 58% higher than that of California with 241.1 persons per square mile. The notion that California is overcrowded is preposterous.

  2. When we lived in California, we noticed the government paid for many poor people to own and rent homes. As an example, in my neighborhood there was a rental, and I called to see how much it cost to rent and it was three times what the homeowners in the neighborhood were paying on their homes! I was involved with the school, and met the divorced woman with 5 kids renting the home and asked how she could afford it and she said the government was paying for it through section 8 or some such. The landlords make big money working with the government, especially in California. The middle and bottom prices in the real estate market are propped up by the government and that forces housing prices to inflate. An average working family can’t compete with the government. And this is just one example.

  3. That street looks like somewhere in San Francisco. Anyone know the location?