California Ranks 3rd Worst in Freedom

JUNE 9, 2011


As fans of DC Comics know, there’s a cube-shaped planet called Bizarro, where there are stupor-heroes, Batman wears a futility belt and the Bizarro Code states, “Us do opposite of all Earthly things!” The state of Bizarro California is no doubt at the top of all the lists of good things and the bottom of all the lists of bad things.

Why not? When it comes to good education, California is near the bottom. And with public employee pension fund losses, we’re at the top.

Now there’s news of another list we’re backwards on: the “Freedom in the 50 States” rankings by the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, which ranks the states based on how their policies affect individual economic, social and personal freedoms.

California comes in 48th, behind only New York and New Jersey, which in itself is powerful evidence for the repressiveness inherent inDemocrat Party liberalism. The study also shows freedoms are declining in California, which has dropped two positions from its 2007 ranking. Here’s why:

Contrary to popular perception, California not only taxes and regulates its economy more than most other states, it also aggressively interferes in the personal lives of its citizens. California simply needs to cut government spending. … Labor laws are extremely strict, of course; for instance, California is one of only five states to mandate short-term disability insurance. Health-insurance coverage mandates add about 49 percent to the cost of premiums in the state. Eminent-domain reform has been cosmetic, and the state’s liability system almost reaches the abysmal quality of the Deep South’s.

Personal Freedoms

California scores somewhat better on personal freedoms — number 41 overall — because of its policies on same-sex partnerships and marijuana. But it can’t rise out of the cellar because it has the most restrictive gun laws in the country and is very tough on motorists and smokers.

The Mercatus Center’s recommendations for California — cut state spending, repeal many health insurance mandates, relax labor laws — are fine but skirt the 13,200,000,000,000,000,000,000,000-pound gorilla that rules public policy in California: Gaea, the Earth Mother.

California is a theocratic state whose goddess is Gaia and the environmentalism she spawns. A news story in Wednesday’s Los Angeles Times underscored Gaia’s power. It told how air quality regulators — high priests in Gaea’s temple — will be spending an unspecified amount of money to determine if poor neighborhoods near a major rail hub in San Bernardino have above-normal cancer and asthma rates.

I already know the answer: yes. Not because they necessarily have higher disease rates — and even if they do, being poor brings many unhealthy things with it — but because we’ve already been through this particular temple ceremony. It happened at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach (“Port of Call for CA’s Crippled Commerce,” CalWatchdog, Jan. 10, 2011). In the name of environmental justice for nearby poor neighborhoods, the West Coast’s two biggest ports have lost their competitive edge due to a mandated Green Ports initiative that has cost hundreds of millions of dollars to implement.

As a result, Californians have lost the freedom to buy cheaper stuff because the cost of the Green Ports initiative has been added to the cost of goods moving through the ports. Truckers have lost the freedom to keep their perfectly fine old trucks, and have been forced to replace them with less durable, cleaner-burning models at a cost of as much as $200,000 each. With 10,000 trucks at the port, that’s a $2 billion tithe to Gaea.

Banning Fireworks

Californians are also about to lose their freedom to celebrate freedom itself by watching Fourth of July fireworks shows at beach towns along the coast. The California Coastal Commission started this war for freedom — the freedom of birds not to get startled once a year, not any human freedom — when it successfully stopped a fireworks show in the northern California hamlet of Gualala.

Now water-quality priests are getting ready to impose a $1,452 “pollution discharge fee” on a volunteer-funded fireworks celebration in La Jolla. Environmentalists, seeing another opportunity to curtail freedom in California, are furious the fee isn’t higher.

So much for Founding Father John Adams’ insistence that Independence Day “ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade . . . bonfires and illuminations [fireworks] from one end of this continent to the other, from this day forward forevermore.”

And on it goes. Gas mowers, charcoal barbecues, dune buggies, wood-burning fireplaces, big-screen plasma televisions — they’re either gone, nearly gone or on their way to much higher prices, because California’s eco-theocracy will always put the Earth Mother ahead of you.

Laer Pearce, a veteran of three decades of California public affairs, is currently working on a book that shows how everything wrong with America comes from California.

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