California 2010: The Year in Review

California 2010: The Year in Review

DEC. 30, 2010


For California, 2010 brought exciting developments in many areas. The year catapulted our local computer company, Apple, into the first position among information companies, based on market capitalization (the total value of stocks). It surpassed long-time rival Microsoft for the first time since the 1980s. Among all global companies, only oil giant Exxon was worth more. Not bad for a firm started by a couple of California guys in their Cupertino garage.

Also in 2010, upstart Facebook, based in Palo Alto, became the new rage. Google continued its dominance of search engines and Internet ads. And Intel still dominates computer chips.

A high-tech headhunter told me that these companies, and others in Silicon Valley and throughout California, actively are recruiting computer programmers to key in the Internet’s future. The hackers come from all across America, and foreign countries. Salaries begin at around $130,000 and rise fast.

So California still is attracting those with talent, in this case nerds with IQs of 140 and up. Unfortunately, such people make up less than 1 percent of the population; the average American IQ is 98.

For those with less mental talent, the old, decent-paying factories jobs that once assembled the machines for Apple, HP, Intel and other companies almost entirely have been sent to other states or countries. Look at the bottom of an Apple device and it will be stamped, “Designed in California, Assembled in China.”

Stagnation station

As a whole, even the modest economic “recovery” most of America enjoyed in 2010 missed California. As a study by California Lutheran University found, jobs creation here is hampered by the high cost of taxation and regulation and the $28 billion budget deficit casting a pall of uncertainty over state and local budgets. In November, California’s 12.4 percent unemployment rate was significantly higher than the U.S. rate of 9.8 percent. California’s unemployment hovered above 12 percent all year.

The bloom definitely is off the California rose. Although most Californians can take comfort that the rose still isn’t covered in snow.

The Meg & Jerry Show

The year also began with the promise of a fresh election season. Republicans started with hope that their candidate could win not only the governorship, but carry several other GOP statewide candidates to victory. The early leader was Meg Whitman, whose $1.4 billion fortune, made being CEO of the popular eBay auction site, garnered their immediate attention. Not much was known about her, but she advertised herself as a savvy businesswoman who knew how to read a balance sheet, unlike the incumbent. Concerns were brushed aside that her message was much like that of Arnold in 2003.

Her major opponent in the primary was Steve Poizner, as insurance commissioner the state’s only sitting GOP statewide officeholder. Also a high-tech entrepreneur, his multimillions didn’t match her 1.4 billions. He did force her to the right on immigration and other issues, which some critics later said was the reason her campaign faltered. Actually, he did her a favor by forcing her to abandon her aseptic campaign a little and get down in the mud wrestling match of real politics.

In addition to a lack of funds, Poizner suffered from having only a few years earlier been rather liberal, including supporting attacks on the Proposition 13 tax-limitation initiative, which is sacrosanct to the Republican Party’s anti-tax base.

After a quixotic run for governor, former Rep. Tom Campbell quixotically switched to a quixotic run for a seat in the U.S. Senate.

Jerry Redux

Although he began the year typically playing a mind game of letting people guess if he would run, Jerry Brown early on scared off any substantive Democratic challengers in the party’s primary for governor. Republican activists salivated at the thought of running against “Governor Moonbeam,” the dreamer prone to abstractions and rambling monologues.

Gov. Moonbeam showed up. Also showing up was the disciplined, savvy candidate Jerry Brown always has been: the Jerry who learned California politics from his father, Gov. Pat Brown; the Jerry who was running his sixth statewide race, having lost only once, to Pete Wilson for U.S. Senate in 1982. In 2010, Wilson was the campaign chairman of Whitman’s campaign.

Jerry beat Meg, her millions, and Pete by 12 points. As the saying has it, Revenge is a dish best served cold. His coattails helped every other statewide Democratic candidate win. And Jerry won big in a year when, across America, Republicans were making sharp gains in almost every area, winning back control of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Whitman spokesman Rob Stutzman blamed Whitman’s defeat on Latinos distrusting the GOP. But the Latino vote is from 17 percent to 22 percent of the electorate. It does vote from 70 percent to 80 percent Democratic. Yet that margin still wasn’t large enough by itself to cause a 12-point wipeout. And the whole Nannygate Nicky Diaz melodrama was a turn-off not only to Latinos, but to Anglos who didn’t exactly identify with someone who could afford a nanny at $25 an hour.

“Bunk,” replied Debra Saunders, one of my favorite columnists, reasoning the cause of the debacle was that “the overpaid political class coronated her because of her money, even though they had no reason to believe that she would be a good candidate or a great governor.”

That’s closer to what happened. But a big defeat has many causes. In rough order of importance, they are:

1. This is now a heavily Democratic state. Although more people keep registering as “Decline to state,” most of those vote Democratic, too. The reason is that immigrants vote about 70 percent Democratic. More immigrants means more Democrats.

2. Every year, about 200,000 California citizens move to other states. Most of them are Republicans.

3. Meg’s campaign message was too much like that of the unpopular Arnold, as the sharpest political ad of the season, by Jerry Brown, showed. It’s still fun to watch:

4. As Debra said, the GOP establishment gazed at Meg’s $1.4 billion and saw nothing but victory — at least for their bank accounts. They should have told her: Look, why don’t you run for the Legislature first, or for insurance commissioner or controller, and get some political experience? Politics ain’t bean bag.” They didn’t.

5. Meg never really stood for anything. I watched the campaign closely and still can’t figure out what her positions were on immigration, global warming, taxes, jobs and education. She put out position papers, but they were the typical fluff produced by high-paid consultants. Her main position: “I’m a billionaire and you’re not, so vote for me.”

6. Arnold is a Republican.

AB 32 wins, jobs lose

The second biggest issue of the year was the major defeat of Proposition 23, which would have suspended AB 32, the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006. AB 32 mandates reductions of greenhouse gas emissions in the state of 25 percent by 2020. Both top gubernatorial candidates, Meg and Jerry, opposed Prop. 23.

The anti-Prop. 23 campaign largely was funded by Silicon Valley venture capitalists tired of making money the old-fashioned way, by finding promising startup companies and infusing them with capital. The new paradigm is to get government commissars to promote the growth of “green” companies in which the venture capitalists have invested, while harassing much of the rest of the economy with labyrinthine new regulations.

What a waste of great capitalist talent. And voters buying into the AB 32 mythology is the political and economic equivalent of the 1997 mass suicide of the Heaven’s Gate cult in Rancho Santa Fe. The cult believed that the coming of the comet Hale-Bopp signaled that space aliens would transport them to another universe.

Yet 2010 was not kind to the mythology that humans are causing global warming. The Wikileaks cable dump at the end of the year showed that global warming policy was being manipulated and coerced by the U.S. government.

The end of the year also brought record cold snaps across America and Europe.

California voters should have listened to Professor Emiritus of physics Hal Lewis of the University of California at Santa Barbara. In October Lewis resigned from the American Physical Society because of its propaganda backing the global warming superstition. Lewis wrote:

When I first joined the American Physical Society sixty-seven years ago it was much smaller, much gentler, and as yet uncorrupted by the money flood (a threat against which Dwight Eisenhower warned a half-century ago)….

For reasons that will soon become clear my former pride at being an APS Fellow all these years has been turned into shame, and I am forced, with no pleasure at all, to offer you my resignation from the Society.

It is of course, the global warming scam, with the (literally) trillions of dollars driving it, that has corrupted so many scientists, and has carried APS before it like a rogue wave. It is the greatest and most successful pseudoscientific fraud I have seen in my long life as a physicist. Anyone who has the faintest doubt that this is so should force himself to read the ClimateGate documents, which lay it bare. (Montford’s book organizes the facts very well.) I don’t believe that any real physicist, nay scientist, can read that stuff without revulsion. I would almost make that revulsion a definition of the word scientist.

California election sunshine

The election did see voters back Proposition 26, requiring a supermajority vote in the Legislature to pass the taxes called “fees.” Voters also defeated Proposition 24, a tax increase, and Proposition 27, which would have cancelled the excellent new redistricting reform now taking shape to end the state’s tyrannical and undemocratic gerrymandering.

But voters also passed Prop. 25, allowing a majority instead of a supermajority to pass a budget; it will virtually cut minority Republicans out of all budget discussions. Well, at least voters now will know whom to blame for budget disasters.

Voters also defeated Prop. 19, which would have legalized marijuana in California. The yea votes were an encouraging 46 percent, almost guaranteeing a similar ballot measure in the future — perhaps one better written. Meanwhile, in Portugal, the country’s decade-long decriminalizaton of all drugs, not just pot, has not led to an epidemic of drug abuse. Alan Bock of the Orange County Register writes:

Despite dire predictions that the country would become a center of  “drug tourism” by trouble-making druggies from all over Europe, that never happened. However, real crime declined, teenage drug use declined, court overcrowding declined, and the incidence of HIV/AIDS also declined. Not bad.

Glenn Greenwald documented all this in a study he did for Cato, from which I drew for my column a year and a half ago. Since then Alex Stevens, a criminologist at the University of Kent in England has published a proper academic study that reaches most of the same conclusions.

Arnold won’t be back

One of the brightest rays of sunshine California enjoys at the end of the year is that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger will be gone from office in less than a week. Riding into office on promises to end the “crazy deficit spending,” cut taxes and “blow up the boxes” of government waste, he leaves having done the opposite on all counts. He also imposed the climate Lysenkoism of AB 32.

So, whatever Jerry Brown brings in 2011 can’t possibly be as bad as what Arnold put us through in 2010. That’s a prediction you can take to the bank — assuming your bank hasn’t been shuttered.

To Arnold, all 37 million Californians now can say, with gusto, Hasta la vista, Baby!

John Seiler is a reporter and analyst for His email: [email protected].


I just wrote a blog updating this article. Here’s what’s in the blog:

I’ve known Rob Stutzman about 15 years, since he was press secretary to Attorney General Dan Lungren back in the 1990s. He’s one of the most knowledgeable people about California politics. He was with Arnold in the early days, before Arnold shifted Left and Stutzman went elsewhere, along with almost all Republicans and conservatives. Recently, Stutzman was communications director for Meg’s campaign.

The reasons Meg lost probably will be debated until we’re all billionaires. But Stutzman gave his reasons in an interview with George Skelton. Skelton’s article was entitled, “Whitman paid a high price for Latino distrust of GOP.”

In one of my articles, my somewhat tongue-in-cheek year-end review, I riffed on that:

Whitman spokesman Rob Stutzman blamed Whitman’s defeat on Latinos distrusting the GOP. But the Latino vote is from 17 percent to 22 percent of the electorate. It does vote from 70 percent to 80 percent Democratic. Yet that margin still wasn’t large enough by itself to cause a 12-point wipeout. And the whole Nannygate Nicky Diaz melodrama was a turn-off not only to Latinos, but to Anglos who didn’t exactly identify with someone who could afford a nanny at $25 an hour.

“Bunk,” replied Debra Saunders, one of my favorite columnists, reasoning the cause of the debacle was that “the overpaid political class coronated her because of her money, even though they had no reason to believe that she would be a good candidate or a great governor.”

Stutzman recently wrote me:

Hi John, just wondering what your citation is when you report that I blamed the Whitman loss on the Latino vote?  I’ve never said any such thing.  I’ve cited it as one of many factors and have voiced concern about the GOP’s path of not being able to reach Latino voters, but I’ve never blamed the defeat on that sole factor.  So what gives?

I checked out the Skelton article. Although it does largely stress the Latino vote, as the article’s title implies, Skelton did write at the end of other reasons, which I should have noted. The first reference is to Meg’s Nannygate scandal breaking right at the end of the campaign. Skelton:

“We still wouldn’t have won,” Stutzman says. “But it would have been closer.

“The [Democratic] math was insurmountable. California Democrats rallied around the president. We had difficulty keeping the campaign focused on jobs and the economy. Brown and his union allies kept [attacking Whitman’s] character….

“Brown was more disciplined than I thought. I tip my hat to those guys.”

Jan. 9, 2011

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