Could California Flame Out? by John McNellis

California definitely could flame out, and probably will. From John McNellis at wolfstreet.com:

High housing costs & taxes lead to this: “Once we decided we had to get our employees out of California, we went about our search systematically.”

The phone rang early the other day. “Well, our center’s still standing,” my partner said. “The fire’s only a couple blocks from us, the whole town of Lakeport’s been evacuated. I think we’ll be ok, but it’s out of control.”

That fire is still raging as of this writing, the town is empty, the stores are closed, our shopkeepers are suffering daily losses that, while nothing compared to the loss of life and home that California’s wildfires are claiming, will never be recovered.

Not so very long ago I thought that global warming was a tragedy of epic proportions, but that it would have at least a few winners: Southern California might become truly unbearable, but Eureka would be the next Laguna Beach. I was wrong again. Writing in the New York Times about Montana, Sara Vowell summarized it like this, “Here in the Mountain West, there are no longer four seasons, only two: winter and wildfire.”

While not that apocalyptic, California’s wildfire season has been starting earlier and ending later. In the past, the season lasted a couple months, August through early October. This year it began the first week of July and last year–the deadliest and costliest wildfire season ever–it went on forever, finally petering out in the north in November and still devastating the south as late as December. The Thomas fire in Southern California, the largest single fire ever, broke out on December 4th.

In California, we pay the highest taxes in America. No other state has a base sales tax as high as our 7.25% nor does any state match our top marginal income tax rate of 13.3% (Hawaii’s a distant second at 11%). One resigned pundit called it a “Shangri-La tax,” the price we must pay to live in the Golden State. And thanks to what passes for political brilliance in Congress, Shangri-La became way more expensive as of January 1st when the Republicans eliminated the deductibility of state income taxes at the federal level, smacking the high-tax Democratic states they already had no chance of winning. All things being equal (they never are), a rich liberal will pay another 6.5% or so in federal taxes for the privilege of living in California this year.

To continue reading: Could California Flame Out?

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