Saving the Golden State Will Save America

As demonstrated by the torrent of executive orders issued by King Newsom in the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, constitutional rights, and due process go out the window during a public emergency. In the coming years, with California’s one-party state leading the way, expect climate “emergencies,” systemic racism “emergencies,” and new health-related “emergencies” to shred what is left of representative government in America.

These “emergencies” are enabling the onset of political tyranny in California, with Governor Gavin Newsom as the figurehead. His most significant overseers are the teachers’ unions and Big Tech billionaires. These two blocs spend hundreds of millions of dollars every year on political campaigns and lobbyists, along with funding powerful nonprofit groups that agitate for politically useful agendas with respect to the environment, homelessness, social justice, and race and gender equity.

All this well-funded advocacy is framed as “for the people” and “for the planet.” In reality, everything Newsom, his predecessors, and his puppeteers have done has failed ordinary Californians, while delivering more power and more profits to California’s ruling elite.

Instead of rounding up the homeless, sorting them according to their various problems or pathologies, and putting them in supervised tent encampments in low-cost areas in the state, California’s homeless advocates and profiteering “nonprofit” developers build taxpayer-funded “supportive housing” palaces that cost over $500,000 per unit in the middle of expensive residential neighborhoods, solving nothing. Meanwhile, cities descend into filth and anarchy.

Instead of implementing school choice, the teachers’ unions demand more funding for failed models of public education. And instead of going out and finally allowing property owners and timber companies to clear the dead trees out of overgrown forests—left there to rot thanks to years of suppressing natural fires and driving away the logging industry—Gavin Newsom issues an executive order to ban gasoline cars within the next 14 years. Meanwhile, the forests keep on burning.

There is only one way to save California and, by extension, save America. The democratic will of the people must reassert itself in a massive realignment of public sentiment. To win these landslides, too seismic to be challenged by executive fiat, political candidates must openly reject core premises of the Democratic party, and offer a new political agenda that promises to do the exact opposite.

In three fundamental areas, public education, land use, and energy infrastructure, California’s current policies are destroying lives, livelihoods, and land. And in all three of these areas, California’s Democrats claim the moral high ground. But Democrats do not actually hold the moral high ground on these questions. They are ruining everything, from California’s cities to its forests. How can that be moral?

Union Public School Monopolies Are Not Moral

The most obvious example, where a realignment tipping point has already almost been reached, is the moral imperative to nurture the next generation. Everyone agrees: Teach the children well, that they might all have a chance at a bright future. But California’s public schools are failing their students, and the problem is the worst in low-income neighborhoods where the importance of a good public education is the greatest.

The solution is equally obvious: Public schools need competition. Parents need to be able to choose from an assortment of accredited K-12 schools; public, public charter, virtual, parochial, private, homeschool, and micro-schools.

To implement school choice, education advocates need to stop trying to push whatever baby step their consultants and donors claim is politically possible, and do what is right. They need to demand school vouchers for parents to redeem at whatever school they wish. Voters have had enough. They’re ready to vote for vouchers.

The biggest barrier to vouchers is California’s teachers’ unions, whose state and local chapters combined collect nearly a half-billion in dues each year. These unions use hefty portions of that money to buy politicians and lobbyists, impacting legislation that protects their monopolies.

But they are not doing this “for the children.” They do not hold the moral high ground. They oppose school choice because as a monopoly they can perpetually acquire more members, more dues, and more power. And the parallel moral dimension, at least for the leadership of these teachers’ unions, is they can use their control over the public schools to indoctrinate California’s children.

Packing Population Growth Into Existing Cities Is Not Moral

If there is any area where years of indoctrination have turned ideologically driven opinions into supposed facts beyond dispute, it is in the area of environmentalism. And one of the most fundamental premises of environmentalism, often overlooked, is the delusion that higher-density urban areas are necessary to protect the planet. 

The moral imperative is to save the earth, with “climate change” as the most urgent threat. But no matter what your opinion is about climate change, cramming California’s population into the footprint of existing cities will not have any impact whatsoever on the climate. All it will do is guarantee that housing is unaffordable forever.

If school choice is the revolutionary concept that will rescue K-12 education in California, more suburbs on open land is the revolutionary concept that will restore home affordability in California. 

Almost every premise of the “anti-sprawl” lobby is ridiculous and must be challenged. Single-family homes of one or two stories are far less expensive per square foot than multi-story buildings. Building utility infrastructure for new suburbs is less expensive than tearing up streets and easements to retrofit utility conduits to accommodate higher density in cities.

The claim that expanding suburbs contributes to climate change is also ridiculous. Jobs will follow workers to new suburbs. People telecommute. Cars are becoming greener every year.

The idea that land is scarce is equally ridiculous. Using data drawn from 2017 USDA data, only 5.1 percent of California’s whopping 164,000 square mile area is given over to residential, commercial, and industrial use. California’s total urbanized land, 8,280 square miles, is insignificant compared to its 42,498 square miles of grassland, with about half of that used for cattle ranching and dryland farming. To develop a mere 20 percent of this grassland would allow California’s urban footprint to double.

The array of legislation and executive orders designed to prevent new suburban development in California is overwhelming. These laws and executive orders must be overturned, possibly through a constitutional amendment put before voters in the form of a ballot initiative. There is no environmentally compelling reason to block development of new towns and suburbs along California’s major freeways—Highway 101, Interstate 5, and Highway 99—especially if these developments are on rangeland which is of marginal agricultural value and of which only a fraction would be developed anyway.

Expressed as a percentage of California’s vast area, the amount of land necessary to unlock suburban development again on open land is trivial. If 10 million Californians moved into homes on spacious quarter-acre lots, four per household, with an equal amount of space developed for new roads and commercial development, it would only consume 1,953 square miles—this would only be a 24 percent expansion of California’s urban footprint, i.e., from 5.1 percent to 6.2 percent of all land in the state.

To deny this opportunity to make homeownership affordable to California’s hard-working low- and middle-income residents is based on misanthropic, cruel lies. Allowing suburban development on open land is a moral choice. Until it is again permitted, housing in California will never be affordable.

“Renewable Energy” Is Not Sustainable, Affordable, or Moral

California’s ruling elite has decided that its citizens will bear the brunt of being the bleeding edge of a global transition to “renewable” energy. But by forcing this advance via government decree, they risk impoverishing a generation merely to leave a legacy of obsolete technologies.

A perfect example is Newsom’s recent decree that new gasoline powered cars cannot be sold in the state after 2035, a mere 14 years from today. What if technologies are found to make gasoline-powered cars even cleaner? Or what about natural gas-powered cars? What about cars like the Chevy Volt, an extraordinary engineering achievement that allows all-electric driving for short commutes, but also delivers 50 miles to the gallon for city or freeway driving when in gasoline mode? The Volt died an unwarranted death because California’s green despots did not consider it sufficiently green.

And if California’s energy future is to be exclusively electric, why isn’t nuclear power an option? Why is Diablo Canyon, which could run for several more decades, being decommissioned? Why is California suing the federal government to stop them from increasing the height of Shasta Dam, which would increase hydroelectric capacity?

The selective use of facts to promote “renewables” in California is epic. What sort of analysis has been done to show how much of California’s solar panels, wind turbines, and batteries have to be imported? What about the negative environmental impact of solar farms, or wind farms? 

What about lithium and cobalt, imported from nations where the environmental abuse and labor conditions are hideously worse than anything in the United States? Why aren’t mining concerns allowed to exploit the abundant lithium deposits in California’s Mojave Desert?

Then there is the question of what happens to all these “renewable” installations when they degrade and have to be replaced. How long will these solar panels and batteries last, and how will they be reprocessed? Even if California achieves a 100 percent renewable electric energy infrastructure, how could it ever be scaled to be applied worldwide, given the raw materials required and the fact that today solar and wind only supply 3.8 percent of global energy? What about new technologies that may come along and render this massive sacrifice obsolete?

Californians deserve reliable and cheap energy. This means nuclear power, hydroelectric power, and clean natural gas. Doing this makes life affordable for working families, and also makes it easier for manufacturers to come back to California, bringing high paying jobs with them.

Challenging Misery that Masquerades as Morality

Much more can be said about policies in California that harm people and the environment, but these three are foundational. If you fix the schools you reduce crime and enable upward mobility. If you deregulate so you can build new suburbs on open land you make housing affordable, reduce the overall cost-of-living, and reduce homelessness. If you back off these extreme renewable energy mandates you reduce the cost of living and stimulate economic growth.

The premises that must be challenged and destroyed, because they are utterly false, are the following:

1) More money to feed the teachers union monopoly helps children learn. Wrong.

2) Packing people within the footprint of existing cities helps people and the environment. Wrong.

3) “Renewable” energy is cheap and reliable, and it is helping the environment. Wrong on all counts.

The policies that must be promoted without reservations or apology, because they are moral choices that will make California livable again, are the following:

1) School vouchers must be implemented, so parents can choose whatever school they want for their children.

2) The regulatory barriers to suburban land development must be all but scrapped, so the housing that people want will be affordable.

3) Hydroelectric, natural gas, and nuclear power must be expanded in California, and renewables mandates must be reduced, so energy will be affordable and reliable.

California’s voters are ready to understand that these failed policies are pushed by special interests that benefit from misery. They’re ready to consider new politicians and new policies. But candidates have to be willing to stand up and tell voters the unvarnished truth about current policies, and promise do the opposite.

The teachers’ union has a monopoly on education, and the worse things get, the more money they demand.

The major corporations, the investment banks, and the pension funds are all in a position to benefit from artificial scarcity of land, because it pumps up the value of their real estate portfolios.

The tech giants and the public utilities love renewable energy because it drives a much larger percentage of consumer spending into paying for overpriced electricity, along with creating a mandatory market for the “internet of things” to manage energy consumption.

Politicians who advocate school vouchers, suburban expansion, and conventional energy will be viciously attacked by self-righteous zealots, backed up by self-serving billionaires. But the politicians with the courage to stick to this revolutionary agenda will win, because it serves the people instead of the bureaucracy and the billionaires.

California’s one-party state can be overcome. The people are ready. Where are the political leaders?

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).

Photo: David McNew/Getty Images

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19 responses to “Saving the Golden State Will Save America”

  1. False. Secession of California will save America.

  2. America doesn’t DO nation building and California is a broken nation. We can’t fix them all we can do is cut them free

  3. California is too far gone. The problems are easy to document. The solutions are impossible to be implemented. There is no political will, and even if there were, the massive amount of state employees union money controls who runs, and wins all political offices in the state. The people who might be persuaded to fight the existing status quo, are instead leaving the state for greener pastures elsewhere. I left 4 years ago, after 30 years. Like most, I would have left years earlier had I been able.

  4. Only when the people of Cali-as well as other states-exert their wills, as in 1776 and TEA Parties, then the oligarchists will be humbled. From there, a leader will arise.

  5. As goes California, so goes the nation. Ignore California at your peril. Fight the devil in his lair.

  6. Build the wall should appy to CA as well as Mexico. Stop the spread of idiots.

  7. These are all good, common sense items, but CA is long past that point. Mass importation of third world border trespassers has sealed its fate. Tyrannical governors never willingly give up power. It’s going to take armed revolution to make CA right again

    • CA cannot be fixed by ‘armed revolution’ either, because the people of California wouldn’t support that.

      You cannot impose a love of public order and liberty on a people who don’t want them. And if the people want these things they will act to gain them.

  8. People in California are starting to realize that Newsome was installed as the governor by fraud with the help of the San francisco-based Nancy Pelosi crime family.

  9. Where is the evidence that the people of California don’t want this garbage? They keep electing the same kinds of leadership.
    California is Portland writ large. It cannot be fixed by outsiders. Let. It. Burn.

  10. Howdy all. This is a tester for the new comment system.

  11. I noticed the yahoo got rid of their comments section for their articles. Their website has been going down the tubes for years, but I was wondering if anyone else noticed ‘mixed bag’ type sites with both libs and conservative commenters being taken down.

  12. Mr. Ring’s determination to turn California around is admirable. Who knows? It might just work, or perhaps make some headway. Four years ago, no one thought that a Republican presidential candidate could win in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, but Mr. Trump did it. Could non-leftists reformers take control of parts of Cali? Dunno, but maybe we should try.

  13. I see many comments to the negative of California, of which I would assume the authors live elsewhere. There are millions of fine people here who are fighting to save the state. I find those who are willing to castigate others without knowing the facts are pretty small minded. I can only surmise by your lack of understanding, that there are two, highly populated areas that control the state and I don’t think you understand the corruption of the state government. All can be changed with the will of the people, and I see that starting to happen. The bottom line is this, those that give up and don’t fight for what is right, are cowards, and those that throw stones at those fighting, well, I don’t have good words to you.

  14. If the voters in California are unhappy with their lot, they need only to look into a mirror to find the cause and the solution. Since they keep voting these intellectual giants back into office, I guess they must like their lot, or they don’t have any mirrors.

  15. certainly like your website but you need to test the spelling on several of your posts. Several of them are rife with spelling issues and I in finding it very bothersome to inform the reality however I’ll definitely come again again.

  16. This is a great article with a great agenda. Too bad California does not have an opposition party that wants to win, never mind wants to save California and America. [The CA #RepParty is run by consultants who want to make money “coaching” the “Washington Generals” who pretend to play the #DemParty’s “Harlem Globetrotters.”]

    Two of Ed Ring’s three examples of #DemParty policies that make life worse for the working men and women of California are based on the #GlobalWarming aka #ClimateChange aka #ClimateCrisis aka #ClimateBreakdown aka #ClimateEmergency scam and hoax.

    “Packing Population Growth Into Existing Cities”

    “Renewable” [and more expensive and intermittent] energy.

    And the third, “Union [Controlled, Government Run] School Monopolies,” is related because they indoctrinate children to believe the #GlobalWarming scam.

    Ed Ring, like almost everyone on “Team Freedom and Prosperity” accepts, at least publicly, the premise of the #GlobalWarming scam.

    “A lie told often enough becomes the truth.” Vladimir Lenin

    Freedom loving people everywhere need to push back on the #GlobalWarming #BigLie. If we do not, the #GlobalWarming #BigLie becomes the truth, and freedom and prosperity inevitably lose.

    Be the boy or girl who says the #GlobalWarming emperor [and #SystemicRacism emperor] is standing there stark naked.