[Vision2020] Green California Makes Progress while Petro State Texas Falters

Nicholas Gier ngier006 at gmail.com
Thu Nov 24 08:27:19 PST 2016


For those who don't take the Daily News appended is my biweekly column.
The version below is for the Sandpoint Reader next week, and the 1,800-word
version (attached) will appear in Pocatello's Idaho State Journal this

There are a lot of people who don't know about CA's come back and TX's
decline. CA still has a lot of problems, so I've replaced the DNews
"thrives" with "makes progress."

You can read all my articles on the Third Way between Communism and
Capitalism at www.webpages.uidaho.edu/ngier/ThirdWay.htm.

Happy Thanks Giving to All,


*Green California Makes Progress while Petro State Texas Falters*

                 From 2015 to 2016, according to the Bureau of Economic
Analysis, California’s Gross Domestic Product rose 4.1 percent, while Texas
dropped 1.4 percent—right at the edge of recession. Once again conservative
economists have been proved wrong: high taxes in the U. S. and Europe do
not kill economic growth.  For example, social democratic Sweden is growing
faster than conservative Britain 3.4 to 2.3 percent.

California has the most diverse economy in the nation with 14 out of 50
advanced industries making significant contributions to its solid
growth.  Texas,
the 12th most diverse economy, has only five of those 50, and three of
those are related to petroleum. Low prices here have hit the Texas hard, and
Governor Greg Abbot is asking most state agencies to cut 4 percent from
their budgets to meet revenue shortfalls.

California took a huge hit during the Great Recession because of the
collapse of the real estate market. Like in so many states, the legislators
were required to balance the budget with large spending cuts. With voter
approved tax increases California is now running a surplus and has restored
education funding.

            At $67,458 Californians have the third highest mean income in
the nation. Texas ranks 25th at $49, 927, and Idaho is 40th at $43,341. A
critic would say that California has a much higher cost of living, but when
that is factored in Texans still earn about $5,000 less per year.
Furthermore, Texas has the largest number of workers (550,000) earning the
minimum wage. In stark contrast, some California cities will require
employers to pay up to $15 per hour by 2021.

The critic persists:  Texans should take home more pay because of lower
taxes. Texans pay no income taxes, while Californians pay some of the
highest in the nation.  When all taxes are taken into account, the picture
changes significantly.  A full 60 percent of lower and middle income Texans
pay taxes at a higher rate than Californians in the same bracket, while
Texans in the highest 40 percent pay far less. The top one percent pays 48
percent of California’s taxes.

>From 2009 to 2014 Texas led the country in job growth, creating 20 percent
of all new jobs. Half way through 2015, however, California took the lead
with 465,700 jobs in contrast to Texas’ 286,000.  The Golden State has made
up for all the jobs lost in the Great Recession, and has the sixth fastest
job growth rate in the nation.

With large immigrant populations both states struggle with high poverty
rates and income inequality. Texas actually has a lower poverty rate, and
California, even with its progressive income tax, has slightly more income
inequality.  A state official admitted that there are “two Californias: a
wealthy coastal economy, in contrast to a struggling inland economy.”

In 2014, according to Kids Count, California ranked 26th in the nation for
child health, while Texas stood at 47th. The most alarmingly health
statistic for Texas is its maternal death rate. In 2000 17.7 mothers out of
100,000 died, but that number climbed to 35.8 by 2014.  In 2011 deep cuts
were made in women’s health funds and 53 clinics were closed. Minority
women were hit hard with black women making up 29 percent of the deaths.  The
Republican “War on Women” is real.

In stark contrast is the decline of maternal deaths in California. They
went down from 21.5 per 100,000 in 2003 to 15.1 in 2014.  The key to this
improvement was the expansion of clinics devoted to women’s health.  European
comparisons are illuminating and embarrassing. For 2014 Germany and the
United Kingdom had 4.1 and 6.7 maternal deaths respectively.

California has the greenest utilities and the most efficient energy use.
Since 1975 per capita energy use in the Golden State has remained the same,
but it has climbed 50 percent in the rest of the country. CERES of Boston
ranked three California utilities as the greenest, and Massachusetts,
Oregon, and Connecticut were not far behind.

Governor Jerry Brown’s goal of bringing down green gas emissions to 1990
levels by 2020 is well within reach, so he now proposing that 40 percent
below those levels be attained by 2030. California has set a goal of
producing one third of its electricity by renewables by 2020, and by 2015
it had already reached 26 percent.  Barring federal intervention by coal
and oil-loving Republicans, California should reach its goal of 50 percent
by 2030.

Utilities across the country are firing their boilers with natural gas, and
fewer and fewer coal fired plants are being built. The inevitability of
cleaner and renewable energy gives new meaning to the phrase “the ash heap
of history.”

Nick Gier taught philosophy at the University of Idaho for 31 years.


A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they
shall never sit in.

-Greek proverb

“Enlightenment is man’s emergence from his self-imposed immaturity.
Immaturity is the inability to use one’s understanding without guidance
from another. This immaturity is self- imposed when its cause lies not in
lack of understanding, but in lack of resolve and courage to use it without
guidance from another. Sapere Aude! ‘Have courage to use your own
understand-ing!—that is the motto of enlightenment.

--Immanuel Kant
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