California in Danger: Why the Dream is Dying and How We Can Save It

California in Danger: Why the Dream is Dying and How We Can Save It

California today is frequently held up as a progressive model — but is it? California’s high cost of living is a major factor behind the state having the country’s highest rate of poverty and inequality. When the cost of living is taken into account, California still spends less on K-12 education than all but four other states.  In truth, California is neither progressive nor a model for other states. What’s behind California’s high cost of living are tax, regulatory, and other policies that are regressive and parasitical. California has routinely reformed its government in the past and must do so again today. This begins with a vision of a high-productivity and high-wage economy.

— Curb corruption with a New Sunshine Act that requires transparency into government contracting, permitting, regulating and other activities, and break up the corrupt California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC);

— Build abundant housing by up-zoning all cities and suburbs to allow modestly taller buildings, and by closing the loophole in the state’s most important environmental law (CEQA) that allows interest groups to file expensive and frivolous lawsuits anonymously and repeatedly;

Create high-paying jobs in advanced manufacturing, biotech, and innovative agriculture by leveraging the state's research universities and community colleges in partnership with new and modernized industries and capturing scale-ups from R&D;

— End poverty by raising the minimum wage, embracing automation, including the autonomous vehicle revolution, and mandating high school and college apprenticeship partnerships with advanced manufacturing and other industries;

— Personalize and modernize education by establishing a 9-to-5 school day that results in the elimination of homework for students, and of schoolwork for teachers; an incremental lengthening of the school year; and unleashing the special talents of all students through digital instruction and teacher tutoring;

— Make property taxes fair and sustainable by empowering a representative “citizens jury” to undergo a year-long evidence-based deliberation that culminates in an amendment to California’s constitution;

— Establish and enforce the principle of universal worker rights for all social classes by demanding the federal government create a path to citizenship for a labor force lacking political rights and power; reforming public pension obligations; and making pension contributions the responsibility of future public employees.

This plan can unify workers, employers, and taxpayers. Workers will benefit from higher wages and cheaper housing. Employers benefit from being able to grow their high-wage and high skill business in California. And Baby Boomer homeowners will benefit from the creation of housing their children and grandchildren can afford.  This coalition should be enough to overcome well-funded interest groups. School teachers, principals, and parents will benefit from a modernized school day and year, higher pay, and better outcomes. The labor unions whose members lack housing they can afford greatly outnumber the small number of unions opposing CEQA reform. And pro-density environmentalists are younger and growing in power over anti-development NIMBYs.

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