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Kotkin: Jerry Brown is a Disaster–and California Business Elite Won’t Stop Him

Joel Kotkin, the noted liberal critic of California’s far-left government, says that Gov. Jerry Brown is leading California to ruin–and that the state’s business leaders share the blame by failing to speak out. In a new essay at the Daily Beast that summarizes much of his recent criticism, Kotkin says that while Brown’s father Pat brought the state progress and prosperity as governor (1959-1967), Jerry Brown “has waged a kind of Oedipal struggle against his father’s legacy.”

Kotkin notes:

California has met the future, and it really doesn’t work. As the mounting panic surrounding the drought suggests, the Golden State, once renowned for meeting human and geographic challenges, is losing its ability to cope with crises. As a result, the great American land of opportunity is devolving into something that resembles feudalism, a society dominated by rich and poor, with little opportunity for upward mobility for the state’s middle- and working classes….

Indeed, if you look at California’s greatest achievements as a society, the Pat Brown legacy stands at the core. The California Aqueduct turned vast stretches of the Central Valley into one of the most productive farming regions in the world. The freeway system, now in often shocking disrepair, allowed for the construction of mass suburbia that offered millions a quality of life never experienced by previous generations. At the same time the development of energy resources—California still boasts the nation’s third-largest oil production—helped create a huge industrial base that included aerospace, semiconductors, and a host of specialized industries, from logistics to garment manufacturing.

In contrast, Jerry Brown has waged a kind of Oedipal struggle against his father’s legacy…

[P]rogressive narcissism is, as some conservatives assert, not the main problem. California greens are, to be sure, active, articulate, well-organized, and well-financed. What they lack is an effective counterpoint from the business class, who would be expected to challenge some of their policies. But the business leadership often seems to be more concerned with how to adjust the status quo to serve privileged large businesses, including some in agriculture, than boosting the overall economy. The greens, and their public-sector allies, can dominate not because they are so effective as that their potential opposition is weak, intimidated, and self-obsessed.

Read the rest here.

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