These days, it’s the left that’s pushing states’ rights. And for that we can thank President Trump. As is often the case with America, California is leading the way.
First came Calexit, a movement eager to establish a California Utopia, although that was postponed when its organizer, Louis Marinelli, decamped to Russia, his wife’s home. He urged “a new petition” to put a secession initiative on the state ballot, “free from ties to me and drafted by others, to be resubmitted at future [sic] date of their choosing.”
Then came President Trump’s June 1 announcement that he would withdraw from the Paris Agreement on the climate. The Los Angeles Times reported the immediate reaction:
Led by California, dozens of states and cities across the country responded Friday to Trump’s attack on the worldwide agreement by vowing to fulfill the U.S. commitment without Washington—a goal that is not out of reach. . . .
California, the nation’s leader in emissions reduction, has already joined with New York and Washington state to build an alliance of states that will guide the nation to Paris compliance in the absence of leadership from the federal government.
One-hundred fifty cities are pursuing similar efforts. According to Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti,
Cities and states are already where most of the action on climate is. Our message is clear to the world: Americans are with you, even if the White House isn’t. . . . Trump’s move is going to have unintended consequences of us all doing the opposite of what the president wants. It will in many ways greatly backfire.
What California is succeeding in reducing, if not killing, is industry. A new report by the Los Angeles Business Council Institute found that
Employers in the region are having difficulty with recruiting and retaining their workforce due to the high cost of housing and the availability of affording housing. . . . [R]ecent studies suggest that disinvestment is a larger problem in California and Los Angeles than in other places. For example, California ranked 48 among the states in new facilities per capita, and Los Angeles County has the worst ranking.
Joseph Vranich of Spectrum Location Solutions pegs the number of companies that have left the state since 2008 at 9,000. Toyota, Nestle, Occidental Petroleum, and Campbell’s Soup are among the largest companies recently to leave.
The most extreme reaction to Trump’s announcement came from Tom Steyer, a hedge-fund billionaire who has used California’s initiative system to pass major tax increases that mainly hit the middle-class and poor, such as a new two-dollar cigarette-tax increase. Steyer tweeted, “If Trump pulls the US out of the #ParisAgreement he will be committing a traitorous act of war against the American people.” There’s talk of Steyer, along with Garcetti, running for California governor in 2018.
Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, who already announced his gubernatorial candidacy, also took to Twitter: “CA is the antidote to the fear that Trump reinforced today. We’ve lead the way before, and will continue to do so now.”
Former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed the state’s landmark greenhouse-gas-reduction legislation, Assembly Bill 32, the “Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006.” The title reminds us that shortly after 2006 the climate crazies stopped using the term global warming, since it wasn’t happening, and adopted climate change, a phrase that can mean anything, instead. The Terminator star’s millions have funded a vanity foundation, the USC Schwarzenegger Institute for State and Local Policy, whose main interest is environmental alarmism.
After Trump’s announcement, Schwarzenegger declared,
One man cannot destroy our progress. One man can’t stop our clean energy revolution. And one man can’t go back in time. . . . You see, the people will rise up. Local and state governments will rise up. Other leaders from local governments will rise up and fill the void that you are creating.
Of course, there’s a good deal of hypocrisy in all this. Take the “carbon footprint” of just “one man”: Schwarzenegger lives in a massive compound in Malibu. He drives numerous high-end luxury cars, including a Bentley and a $2.25 million Bugatti Veyron that guzzles gas at seven mpg in the city.
Meanwhile Gov. Jerry Brown, who once cultivated an aura of frugality, “flew to Italy with real estate developer George Marcus and his wife, Judy, in their private plane” for the June 2015 climate confab in Rome, according to the Sacramento Bee. Brown’s family fortune also derives from oil deals his father, Pat Brown, made with the murderous dictatorship of Indonesia in the late 1960’s after Governor Pat was defeated in 1966 by Ronald Reagan.
In May 2015, Jerry Brown “signed an agreement between California and 11 other U.S. states and foreign provinces to sharply limit emissions of greenhouse gases by 2050,” according to the San Jose Mercury News. The other American states were Oregon and Washington—making a sweep of the Left Coast—and Bernie Sanders’ Vermont. “Foreign provinces” included Wales, Acre (Brazil), Baden-Württemberg, Catalonia, Ontario, Baja California and Jalisco.
Governor Moonbeam enthused, “This global challenge requires bold action on the part of governments everywhere. It’s time to be decisive. It’s time to act.”
In April 2017, Brown’s office reported Mexico and Canada had joined
the growing Under2 Coalition, a global pact of cities, states and countries pledging to limit the increase in global average temperature to below 2 degrees Celsius, the level of potentially catastrophic consequences. . . . [T]he Under2 Coalition now includes 170 jurisdictions on six continents that collectively represent more than 1.18 billion people and $27.5 trillion GDP—equivalent to 16 percent of the global population and 37 percent of the global economy.
Acting more like a president than like a governor, Brown explained,
We are forming our own Under2 Coalition and we are going to recruit, mobilize and work with all the states and provinces and countries. That includes Canada and Mexico, which are key partners in turning the tide against climate catastrophe. We are on the side of science and truth and whatever the flimflam artists do or say, we are going to overcome that.
Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is best known for banning smoking in the city’s bars and trying to ban sodas. Now the multibillionaire is eager to fund climate fanaticism. “Americans will honor and fulfill the Paris Agreement by leading from the bottom up—and there isn’t anything Washington can do to stop us,” he said, announcing a $15 million gift to the U.N.’s climate bureaucracy.
Last November, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported, “With a murder rate of 20.2 per 100,000 civilians and 94 total murders in 2015,” Atlanta ranked as “one of America’s top murder capitals.” One would think Mayor Kasim Reed would be busy trying to protect his own people. Instead, after Trump’s June 1 announcement, the mayor promised that “The City of Atlanta will intensify our efforts to reduce CO2 emissions, work to cool the planet by two degrees, ramp up clean energy solutions and seek every opportunity to assert our leadership on this urgent issue.”
The climate polices are creating two different countries: states and cities run by the eco-left that are hostile to traditional, “dirty” businesses; and those that welcome such businesses, and the jobs that go with them.
The environmental policies already in effect have pushed manufacturing out of the eco-states to more favorable business climes. The San Francisco and Silicon Valley tech giants plant their computer-server farms in places like North Carolina and manufacture their products in such places as China. Washington-based Microsoft does the same thing. Boeing’s HQ and some of its manufacturing operations remain in Washington, but its latest big plant is in South Carolina; and it is moving 900 jobs from Huntington Beach, California, to St. Louis, Missouri, and Huntsville, Alabama.
The result has been a giant exodus from some, but not all, of the eco-friendly states. New York’s Absolute Domestic Migration from 2006 to 2015 was 1.4 million, the highest in the country, according to the 2017 Rich States, Poor States study of the American Legislative Exchange Council. That’s the number of American citizens who have moved and does not include immigrants who prefer New York or California to Venezuela or Somalia.
California is second on the list, with 1.1 million exiting in the same period. An anomaly is Washington state, which saw 302,829 migrating in during the same period. It helps that the Evergreen State, despite its eco-mania, has no state income tax, making it friendly to business. By contrast, California’s top state income tax rate, 13.3 percent, is the highest in the land. New York’s, at 12.7 percent, is second highest.
The American tradition of moving to California for the weather, to find work, or experience Hollywood glamour ended in the 1990’s. Tax increases and stultifying regulations caused a recession in the early 1990’s much worse than the recession endured by the rest of the country; it drove some two million people, mostly middle-class Republicans, from the state. A massive wave of immigration from other countries, mostly Mexico and South America, helped turn the state far left.
Also in the early 1990’s, California’s manufacturing industry—which, as the state’s most powerful economic sector, wielded the greatest political clout—lost its influence thanks to the winding down of defense spending after the Cold War, the state government’s attack on manufacturing, and a general decline in U.S. industry that followed bad federal trade deals. Taking its place were the public-employee unions which, in 1999, succeeded in getting the state government to increase their pensions by 50 percent. These unions remain powerful, but today they are largely concerned with maintaining the high level of state- and local-government employees’ pay, perks, and pensions.
For the last 15 years, the Tech Oligarchs have enjoyed the greatest political influence, controlling wealth beyond the dreams of digital avarice. They push whatever agenda they want to, even in defiance of Washington, D.C., particularly with regard to federal regulations on the environment, immigration, and taxes.
The leftist states are going their own way in other areas as well. As I write, the California legislature is close to passing Senate Bill 54, the “California Values Act,” making it a “sanctuary state” for illegal aliens. And 18 cities and counties have already declared themselves “sanctuaries.”
Employees at the technological headquarters of the world’s most valuable company, Apple, Inc., enjoy the balmy weather of Cupertino, California, in their giant new, ultra-eco, circular “mothership.” Many of Apple’s top executives are leftists who push for high state and federal taxes. But much of Apple’s business operations are headquartered in Ireland to take advantage of the country’s low taxes.
The European Union branded the tax breaks “illegal tax aid” and demanded Apple turn over $14.5 billion in back taxes to the E.U. and the Irish government. According to CNBC, “Both Ireland and Apple have pledged to fight the decision via the European courts.” Significantly, the U.S. government is only marginally involved in negotiations.
Similarly, another Silicon Valley giant, Menlo Park’s Facebook, is working hard to return to China, where it has been banned since 2009. “Facebook Inc. is so keen to return to China,” writes Bloomberg News, “that it built a tool that would geographically censor information in the country.” Once again, the negotiations largely preclude the U.S. government. The big tech companies wield enough power to go it alone.
So what’s next? Led by California, the eco-mania states will continue policies that develop high-tech, eco-friendly technologies, but punish manufacturing. The working middle class will continue leaving these states for more reality-based environs. The national bifurcation will continue.