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A dose of Dan: California dreaming — Can our state be great again?

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From page A4 | December 03, 2012 | 19 Comments

A handful of news reports over this past week got me thinking about the fate of the Golden State, and specifically whether California, once the jewel of the country in terms of innovation, education and infrastructure, could be great again.

No matter which side of the political fence you sit, everyone can agree California is in a budgetary quagmire. Tax hikes are merely bandages and not panaceas for the economic liabilities the state faces, with no genuine solution in sight.

So it didn’t surprise me that yet another survey came out last week dubiously labeling California the worst run state in the country. It’s actually the second year in a row that the market analysis and commentary outfit, 24/7 Wall St, tagged the Golden State as the worst run.

The analysis firm reached its conclusions based on a review of data on financial health, standard of living and government services. The survey pointed to California suffering the lowest credit rating in the country, the second highest foreclosure rate and the third highest unemployment rate. The state has also earned the third-worst business tax climate ranking.

Meanwhile, 24/7 Wall St. named North Dakota the best run state, followed by Wyoming, Nebraska, Utah and Iowa. North Dakota holds a special place in our hearts because it’s my mother’s home state, but it’s honestly not high on our annual list of places to visit — and our family still lives there.

From a native Californian’s esteemed perspective, North Dakota is a baking hot or freezing cold patch of prairie with nothing remotely exciting going on. The same could be said for the other four top run states on the list (with the exception of being drawn to visit the national parks in Wyoming and Utah).

While some point to California’s economic situation improving as we head into 2013 — evidenced by, for example, the unemployment rate improving to 10.1 percent in October from 11.5 percent in October 2011 — others claim the improvement is bouncing off the bottom instead of sustainable growth. Additionally, 80 percent of Californians continue to believe the state is heading in the wrong direction, according to recent poll by the University of Southern California.

Still, despite all the gloom, another news report last week strangely sparked some hope for California in me, and it resulted from an unusual source. It is likely just wishful thinking, but the news of the retirement of Huell Howser, the host of the pro-California PBS shows, reminded me, if only for a few minutes, that California is still nothing short of a spectacular place — a place worthy of the charming programs that Howser and team produced.

Now California is not going to fix its budget issues with only tourism dollars. And we can’t all drive a tour bus or be a travel agent for a living. Europe has proven that doesn’t drive an economy, as there are only so many tour guides, buses, castles and parks to go around.

Nonetheless, I suspect there aren’t that many Huell Howsers lining up to produce shows about destinations in Nebraska or Iowa. I’m not knocking those states, I’m just hoping we can collectively agree on and successfully leverage enough of the positives that remain in California to help the state back on track. If we can do that, California could again be “amazing,” as Mr. Howser always says.

Dan Francisco is an El Dorado Hills-based public relations consultant to the high-tech industry. 

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | 19 comments

  • cookie65December 03, 2012 - 6:09 am

    Our budgetary quagmire is the direct result of our real problem. An intellectual quagmire. The entire country is suffering from it. We are overwhelmed by the number of people who can't make change out of a dollar, have zero intellectual curiosity, have thier thoughts governed by what they see on tv and have no reading comprehension skills but they have the power to vote. It is just part of the program, educated citizens are more difficult to control.

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  • James E.December 03, 2012 - 10:06 am

    Cookie, I agree -- only white male landowners should be allowed to vote.

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  • EvelynDecember 03, 2012 - 1:42 pm

    It is worth considering something about North Dakota pointed to by Ellen Brown. She writes: "North Dakota is the only state to be in continuous budget surplus since the banking crisis of 2008. Its balance sheet is so strong that it recently reduced individual income taxes and property taxes by a combined $400 million, and is debating further cuts. It also has the lowest foreclosure rate and lowest credit card default rate in the country, and it has had NO bank failures in at least the last decade. If its secret isn’t oil, what is so unique about the state? North Dakota has one thing that no other state has: its own state-owned bank. Access to credit is the enabling factor that has fostered both a boom in oil and record profits from agriculture in North Dakota. The Bank of North Dakota (BND) does not compete with local banks but partners with them, helping with capital and liquidity requirements. It participates in loans, provides guarantees, and acts as a sort of mini-Fed for the state." ********** @ http://www.webofdebt.com/articles/north_dakota.php

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  • EvelynDecember 03, 2012 - 1:54 pm

    P.S. To put North Dakota's $400 million tax reduction in perspective, consider that the population of California is 56 times larger. If California were similarly placed, that would mean a $22,400,000,000 tax reduction. I like the sound of that!

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  • cookie65December 03, 2012 - 4:51 pm

    James, when you employ a favorite tactic of the left, I don't want clean air and water cause I know global warming is a fraud, it demostrates a considerable lack of imagination on your part. Get back to me when you have an original thought of your own.

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  • James E.December 03, 2012 - 5:58 pm

    Cookie, I'm sorry, did I say something about clean air and water or global warming? Have you confused me with someone else?

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  • CatherineDecember 04, 2012 - 8:41 am

    So, North Dakota has economic stability because they've embraced socialism. Clever of them.

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  • cookie65December 04, 2012 - 10:31 am

    James, did I say something about only white land owners being able to vote? See how your tactic works? It is how the left attempts to create a false argument. They do the same with global warming. They accuse anyone who knows global warming is a fraud of not wanting clean air a water. I made a statement regarding the intentional dumbingdown of the citizens of this country and you tried to make it sound like I was saying something that I did not say. I think it was Sir Winston Churchill who said 'the best argument against democracy is a five minute conversation with the average voter'.

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  • James E.December 04, 2012 - 10:38 am

    Cookie, your previous comment has fallen off the bottom of the list, but, as I recall you made the point that the "unwashed" should not be voting. My return comment merely agreed with you by stating that only white male property owners should be allowed to vote. I made no comment about global warming.

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  • James E.December 04, 2012 - 10:46 am

    have ADDED: Cookie, I would hoped you would have recognized that my comment that only white male property owners should be allowed to vote drips with sarcasm. I didn't think I would have to point this out, BUT.

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  • EvelynDecember 04, 2012 - 12:36 pm

    Logically the following would go to the thread on the Fed. I've decided, however, to make it a (sort of) follow on to the Bank of North Dakota. ********** (A v. good 9-minute interview) "DON'T END THE FED, TAKE OVER THE FED: Why the Treasury should take over the Fed and not end it" @ http://www.activistpost.com/2012/12/dont-end-fed-take-over-fed.html

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  • AnthonyDecember 04, 2012 - 1:58 pm

    cookie65, your comment is a perfect description of birthers, poll-truthers, and 'death panel' fear mongers.

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  • AnthonyDecember 04, 2012 - 4:47 pm

    Evelyn, it is interesting how very red Republican states rely on the very "socialism" they claim to abhor. Yes, the Bank of North Dakota is the only state-owned bank in the nation, and clearly is doing quite well. Meanwhile in another very red state, Alaska, every man, woman and child in the state receives a check every year regardless of financial need. The money comes from oil companies who pay a royalty to drill on Alaskan soil. The Alaskan oil royalty program is the essence of socialism and the right wing sweetheart Sarah Palin has been known to boast about it. Socialism has its place. Apparently, even conservatives realize this. This year, every Alaskan resident received $878. Ironic that the icon of the political right, Sarah Palin was governor of a state where "taking" from corporations to send a free check to individual citizens regardless of financial need, is a requirement written into the state constitution.

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  • tmoeDecember 04, 2012 - 6:14 pm

    Antony, What do you have against us Alaskans you racist? You don't say one bad word while the negros get their free stuff and won't say another bad word when they get their free reparations. The Indians get plenty of breaks and what are you saying about that? You are a racist and are against us American Alaskans. Keep your stupid whitey racist comments out of Alaska.

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  • observerDecember 04, 2012 - 6:22 pm

    tmoe - huhhhhhhh?

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  • tmoeDecember 04, 2012 - 6:25 pm

    Antony, is Alaska in the hole or is California where you live in the hole? Stay out of our business, I'm done with you.

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  • kggDecember 04, 2012 - 7:56 pm

    what company or organization did the survey and who did it poll?

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  • James E.December 04, 2012 - 8:24 pm

    Are American Alaskans Eskimos? And is tmoe a bit unbalanced?

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  • EvelynDecember 04, 2012 - 9:09 pm

    Anthony: I don't know the political breakdown of Alaska and N. Dakota voters, but did a quick check on Governors of the 2 states. N. Dakota's have been predominantly Republican; Alaska about equal, Democrat and Republican.

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