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The Sacramento Solution

Columnist: Norman Rosinski
July, 2010 Issue

Norman Rosinski
All articles by columnist

Welcome to the July Agribusiness issue of NorthBay biz. As chronicled on the pages of this magazine, California has alternately enjoyed and suffered through the boom and bust cycles that make up its economy. The excesses of these swings are perhaps at the root of the state’s bipolar nature. If you’re a fan instead of steady growth and relative stability, as I am, then you’re sure to appreciate California’s more dependable agricultural heritage. The state’s ag-related revenues approach $50 billion annually. Here in the North Bay, the ag community not only contributes significantly to the local economy, but also to the pleasing rhythm of local life. So sit back and enjoy the stories in this issue as we attempt to capture that ineffable spirit that personifies the bucolic lifestyle that is the North Bay.

We’re Number One—come on now, chant along with me—We’re Number One. We’re Number One. So says CEO magazine, after it polled CEOs asking them to name the worst place in America to do business. BTW, this is a distinction that California has held every year since the publication began surveying CEOs in 2005. As I’ve mentioned in recent columns, Texas, because of its reduced regulatory burden, lower taxes and an overall business-friendly atmosphere, has been consistently ranked as the best place to do business in America. Perhaps the following little anecdotal story (gleaned from the Internet with some modification by yours truly) says it best.

Here’s the scenario: A California state legislator is out jogging with his dog along a remote walking trail. A coyote jumps out and attacks the dog.  Here’s what happens next.

• The legislator starts to intervene to save his dog, but stops,
    reflecting upon the movie “Bambi” and recognizing that the
    coyote is only doing what is natural.

•     The legislator calls animal control. Animal control captures the
    coyote and spends $5,000 testing it for disease and $2,500
    relocating it.

•     He then calls a veterinarian. The vet collects the dead dog and
    spends $2,000 testing it for disease.

•     The legislator goes to the hospital and spends $17,500 treating
    his bite wound and getting checked for disease from the coyote.

•     The trail is closed for six months while wildlife services
    conduct a $250,000 study to make sure the area is clear of
    dangerous animals.

•     The legislator appeals to the Governor, who authorizes
    $500,000 of state funds implementing a “coyote awareness”
    program for residents of the area.

•     The state legislature creates a commission and authorizes $20
    million to investigate how to better handle rabies and how to
    possibly eradicate the disease.

•     The legislator’s public employee union security guard is fired
    for not stopping the attack and for letting the legislator

•     $75,000 is spent in training a new security agent. The original
    public employee union security guard files suit for unlawful
    discharge and wins a judgment of $1 million plus reinstatement
    and back pay.

•     PETA protests the coyote relocation and files suit, winning a
    $10 million judgment against the state.

A Texas state legislator in the same scenario:

•     The legislator shoots the coyote and keeps jogging. He spent 50
    cents on the cartridge. The vultures eat the dead coyote.

Any more questions why California has a budget deficit and Texas doesn’t?

Every year at this time, I’m never at a loss for a column topic, because every year the state is facing a critical budget deficit that begs criticism. The Sacramento solution inevitably is to raise taxes, borrow billions and perform accounting feats of legerdemain to balance the budget. Never once in this annual rite is it ever mentioned that the state doesn’t have a revenue problem, it has a spending problem—easily solved: stop spending. The newest plan on the table is to raise taxes another $5 billion and borrow an additional $9 billion. This on the heels of last year’s $12.7 billion tax hike and in the midst of soaring unemployment and a stuttering economy. I can only say, I’m stunned by their arrogance and ignorance and don’t really know which offends me more. I stumbled upon someone who very ably addressed Sacramento’s hubris.

Patrick Dorinson wrote an article titled, “California 2010: Athens-on-the-Pacific,” published on Fox & Hounds (, in which he responds to State Senate Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg’s typical rhetoric. When the initial proposed approach to a balanced budget was announced, State Senate Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, summoning his best progressive talking points and anger said, “What kind of civilized society maintains business tax breaks and eliminates child care? That’s not the California that I recognize or take pride living in.”

Here’s Patrick Dorinson’s response. “What kind of a society spends itself into oblivion with no regard where the money is coming from and tries to fund a welfare state? What kind of a society cripples its businesses with regulations, drives out others with high costs and relies on the success of its wealthy to pay the state’s bills? What kind of a society annually sends its vendors of goods and services ‘IOUs’ putting folks out of business because the legislature is incapable of doing its job? What kind of a society allows its infrastructure to decay to the point where the price of fixing it is unattainable? What kind of a society puts saving a small fish, the Delta Smelt, ahead of the lives and livelihoods of its citizens as it chokes off the lifeblood of any civilization—water. Perhaps we grew up in different places, because that’s not the California I recognize or take pride in living in, Senator Steinberg.”

Dorinson continues, “California now looks like the ruins of ancient Greece, a nation we seem hell bent on emulating. When American frontiersman Davy Crockett was defeated for reelection to Congress in 1834, he famously said to his political enemies who had engineered his defeat, “You may all go to hell, and I will go to Texas.’ I’m starting to think that might not be such a bad idea.”

That’s it for now. Enjoy this month’s magazine.



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