New York Times’ ignorance on California: How it’s revealing about state Dems, media

Oct. 15, 2012

By Chris Reed

On Sunday, The New York Times printed a long article about the California government’s move to implement AB 32, the landmark 2006 state law forcing a shift to cleaner but costlier types of energy. Its adoption was driven by the idea that it would inspire the rest of the world to copy the Golden State’s approach to the fight against the greenhouse gases believed to cause global warming. As the kids say, epic fail. Nobody has been inspired by California to follow suit.

The Times, to its credit, actually mentions this central goal of AB 32, which is never mentioned by the Sacramento media, incredibly enough. But reporter Felicity Barringer continued in the grand NYT tradition of describing a California that doesn’t exist.

The most common examples are Skeltonite articles that blame everything bad in California on Proposition 13. The most stunning example remains a July 1, 2009, article entitled “Who Can Govern California?” The nearly 8,000 word piece in the Times’ Sunday magazine, incredibly enough, did not cite public employee union power as a reason Sacramento is tied in knots. I whined about it at length here.

Assumption is common sense — but wrong

But in Barringer’s article, her description of a California that doesn’t exist is goofy in a different way than articles that accept the lazy Democratic tirades against Prop. 13 as fact or that ignore malignant union power. Strangely enough, Barringer’s ignorance is actually in its own way quite telling. It simply never occurs to her that the state’s dominant political party could actually be indifferent to the fate of the private-sector economy.

 “The outsize goals of California’s new law, known as A.B. 32, are to lower California’s emissions to what they were in 1990 by 2020 — a reduction of roughly 30 percent — and, more broadly, to show that the [cap and trade system of selling emission rights] works and can be replicated.

“The risks for California are enormous. Opponents and supporters alike worry that the program could hurt the state’s fragile economy by driving out refineries, cement makers, glass factories and other businesses. Some are concerned that companies will find a way to outmaneuver the system, causing the state to fall short of its emission reduction targets.

“’The worst possible thing to happen is if it fails,’ said Robert N. Stavins, a Harvard economist.”        

When I read this sentence ….

“Opponents and supporters alike worry that the program could hurt the state’s fragile economy by driving out refineries, cement makers, glass factories and other businesses.”

… on my phone at a Rancho Mirage resort on Saturday afternoon, I laughed so raucously that a security guard gave me a stern look.

Dems don’t see a ‘tremendous risk’

Felicity Barringer offers no examples of any politician in California who supports AB 32 but is worried about its drag on the economy — none. Nor does she cite any Democrat who believes AB 32 is a “tremendous risk” for California’s economy.

Why? Because in California, we have a political class that is either stupid enough to believe that unilaterally making energy cost more here than in rival states and nations actually helps the economy, or it just doesn’t care. Let them eat cake.

And we have a Sacramento media that are so deeply in the green tank that they don’t even bring up the ludicrousness of politicians claiming that an obvious economic disadvantage is somehow an economic advantage.

I included the NYT’s quote from Robert Stavins to further illustrate this point. Stavins’ gaudy resume shows he is arguably the world’s leading environmental economist. The former Clinton administration official is not a right-winger associated with climate change “denial.” He is not a libertarian crank such as myself with a degree in political science, not a real science. He is the definition of a credible critic of AB 32. And guess what? The California media ignored his sharp critique of the California Air Resources Board’s rosey scenarios for AB 32 in its 2008 implementation plan.

How sharp? Stavins said the air board’s analysis had so many “glaring and severe errors and deficiencies” that it could undermine global efforts to fight global warming!

“I fear that at this stage of the process, CARB will find itself in a position of being compelled to publicly defend its economic analysis from critiques such as my own, rather than significantly amend it in response to expert commentary,” Stavins wrote.

(Here’s a fuller look at legit economists’ worries about AB 32.)

In the green tank on AB 32

Now isn’t this, yunno, news? The world’s leading environmental economist says AB 32 is at risk of being a flop? Not according to the people covering state government.

With the exception of a December 2008 column by Dan Walters in the Sacramento Bee, Nexis shows not a single Sacramento-based journalist covering state government has detailed what Walters called Stavins’ “devastating” critique.

This is a ridiculous comment on the Sacramento media set.

And indirectly, Felicity Barringer of The New York Times illustrates its ridiculousness. Of course a rational person would worry about a state law that imposed unilateral burdens on state businesses, even if one supported the law. So she didn’t think it was a stretch to write ….

“Opponents and supporters alike worry that the program could hurt the state’s fragile economy by driving out refineries, cement makers, glass factories and other businesses.”

The problem for Barringer, and for California in general, is that it’s just not true. Here’s the truth: In his January “State of the State” speech, Gov. Jerry Brown tore into the “declinists” who didn’t believe his green gospel.

AB 32 isn’t a worry for the governor, contrary to Felicity Barringer’s assumption. Instead, Jerry Brown thinks it has California “perfectly positioned” to ride a green wave to prosperity. And in their public statements, at least, California’s elected Democrats vigorously agree.

How strange that a terribly misleading article in the nation’s most powerful newspaper still manages to indirectly illustrate how badly California is governed — and how poorly it is covered by the Sacramento media.



Write a comment
  1. Rex the Wonder Dog!
    Rex the Wonder Dog! 15 October, 2012, 14:50

    We’re doomed. I have said it so many times before, we are now a banana republic, where the ruling class does whatever the hell they want to do. No more government and for by the people.

    Stick a fork in us, b/c we’re done.

    Reply this comment
  2. Douglas
    Douglas 15 October, 2012, 19:29

    It’s gonna be BAD!

    Reply this comment
  3. eck
    eck 15 October, 2012, 19:39

    Rex, ya know, in the past I’ve thought you were just a crank, but I think I’ve become aroung to your prediction that we’re doomed to go down the toilet, no matter what sane people do.

    Reply this comment
  4. Ted Steele, The Decider
    Ted Steele, The Decider 15 October, 2012, 20:30

    rex the doom Poodle! LMAO—- always wrong!

    0 for 13 ™ !

    Reply this comment
  5. BobA
    BobA 16 October, 2012, 07:19


    America has been toast for some time now. The America talked about about in the US Constitution no longer exists. I could cite many examples of why that is true but at this point it would be a meaningless exercise in futility. Far to many Americans have never bothered to read the constitution and that applies to politicians as well.

    America is also no longer a nation of laws where the rule of law applies equally to all. We’ve become a nation where race, immigration status, class and political expediencies trumps the law.

    I’m all but convinced that if a vote were taken today to get rid of the constitution, a majority of Americans would be in favor of it.

    Reply this comment
  6. Greg
    Greg 16 October, 2012, 10:44

    It’s a bit ironic that California’s dream of creating green jobs will be scuttled by AB32 which is supposedly designed to reduce pollution, but in reality will only drive up costs so much for everyone that even more jobs will leave the state.

    Reply this comment
  7. Ted Steele, The Decider
    Ted Steele, The Decider 16 October, 2012, 14:33

    Wow Boba— are you safe in your bunker?

    Name me 5 Constitutional “rights” you’ve lost?

    Reply this comment
  8. Rex the Wonder Dog!
    Rex the Wonder Dog! 16 October, 2012, 14:54

    Teddy, the Constitution does not give you “rights” and privlidges, it protects them.

    And those rights and privileges are being whittled away little by little every single day.

    Reply this comment
  9. Queeg
    Queeg 16 October, 2012, 17:46

    You people can go ahead and fall into the outhouse abyss……I am happy in California…..this is a great place to live and make a great living…..look at the cubicle window……all is beautiful!

    Reply this comment
  10. BobA
    BobA 16 October, 2012, 19:49


    Thanks for making that point. The person in question has an obvious reading comprehension problem and missed my point entirely. Never the less, the person’s comments does serve as an example of just how and why our rights are being whittled away.

    Once those rights are gone it will be hard to get them back. It goes without saying that the only rights that any of us have are those we are willing to defend.

    Reply this comment
  11. Ted Steele, The Decider
    Ted Steele, The Decider 16 October, 2012, 20:47

    LOL—–I KNEW you couldn’t name 5 rights lost!!!!! You clowns NEVER can! What a lot of hot air!!!!!!!!

    Reply this comment

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