Gavin Newsom Thinks California Is Freer Than Florida. Is He Crazy?
It’s hard to understand the rationale for Gov. Gavin Newsom’s Independence Day political ad in Florida, which urged Floridians to “join us in California where we still believe in freedom.” OK, there’s a political rationale given that Newsom might actually be planning to run for president, but the video ad is inexplicable.
In fact, its wording suggests that Newsom might be delusional. In recent interviews, the California governor pinned his motivation on Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ threat to impose a $27.5-million fine on the Special Olympics if that group didn’t rescind its vaccine mandate.
On that specific point, I agree that threatening a private group with a fine was wrong. DeSantis has indeed embraced a variety of “culture war” policies designed to support his burgeoning campaign for the GOP presidential nomination. I have no use for governors of either party who engage in rhetorical spats as they attempt to appeal to their political base.
I still cringe at the childish battle between former Gov. Jerry Brown and former Texas Gov. Rick Perry after Perry ran ads in California urging businesses to relocate. Brown said Perry’s ad campaign wasn’t serious: “It was barely a fart.” That’s silly stuff, but Perry’s ads made logical sense given that California’s regulatory climate has long been a boon for Austin and Dallas.
But in what universe can a governor argue that California—despite its historical appeal to entrepreneurs and creative types—remains a beacon for freedom seekers? That ship has sailed like a yacht that has departed Long Beach harbor.
California might arguably be freer when it comes to some social behaviors, but in most areas—starting and operating a business, pursuing work, building housing, educating our kids free from government control—it is unquestionably among the nation’s least-free states.
Our tax rates are so high that Californians mainly are free to work longer hours to pay for a modicum of mostly shoddy services. Keeping the money one earns is in some ways the ultimate freedom issue. Is Newsom unaware that our population is declining—as people flee our sunny clime and magnificent scenery for Godforsaken places such as Nevada and Oklahoma?
Furthermore, Californians are facing water shortages and draconian water restrictions even as Newsom’s own administration has rejected new storage and desalination projects. His administration is scurrying to keep the lights on as the heat rises.
Ah, nothing says freedom like having the water police fine you when you wash the car. Or relying on a generator after the lights go out as the state mismanages the electricity grid. I don’t feel particularly free knowing that the state also is busy banning those generators and other small internal-combustion-powered lawn equipment. But that’s the California way.
Whenever some think tank or trade group produces a study comparing states—on tax rates, licensing rules, regulatory hurdles, quality of public services or housing fees—I always save myself time by immediately scanning the bottom of the list. The only question is whether Californ
Article from Reason.com