Big Labor Wall Crumbling in California?
California is a long ways off from becoming a Right to Work state as the union bosses hold incredible sway over elected officials throughout the state. But Forbes' Joel Kotkin argues a new reform wind is blowing that threatens the old way of doing business: As with the old party bosses in Russia, [Jerry] Brown’s distinct lack of courage has only worsened California’s lurch toward fiscal and economic disaster. Yet as the budget woes worsen, other Californians, including some Democrats, are beginning to recognize the need for perestroika in the Golden State. This was most evident in the overwhelming vote last week in two key cities, San Diego and San Jose, to reform public employee pensions, a huge reversal after decades of ever more expansive public union power in the state. California’s “progressive” approach has been enshrined in what is essentially a one-party state that is almost Soviet in its rigidity and inability to adapt to changing conditions. With conservatives, most businesses and taxpayer advocates marginalized, California politics has become the plaything of three powerful interest groups: public-sector unions, the Bay Area/Silicon Valley elite and the greens. Their agendas, largely unrestrained by serious opposition, have brought this great state to its knees. California’s ruling troika has been melded by a combination of self-interest and a common ideology. Their ruling tenets center on support for an ever more intrusive, and expensive, state apparatus; the need to turn California into an Ecotopian green state; and a shared belief that the “genius” of Silicon Valley can pay for all of this. Now this world view is foundering on the rocks of economic reality. Californians suffer from a combination of high taxes and intrusive regulation coupled with a miserable education system — the state’s students now rank 47th in science achievement — and a rapidly deteriorating infrastructure.