Most conservatives and just about all independents have a huge misperception of the Left. They think that the gulf between conservatism and leftism is primarily about means, not goals. This perception is wrong. It is their goals that are irreconcilable. And until conservatives, independents, and the Republican party understand this, it will not be possible to defeat the Left.
Take economic indicators. Most conservatives talk and act as if bad economic news disturbs the Left as much as it disturbs them. It doesn’t. Almost everywhere the Left is in control — in California, for example — the economic news is awful. But this has no effect on the ruling Democrats, the Los Angeles Times editorial page, New York Times economics columnist Paul Krugman, or others on the left.
There is one overriding philosophical reason and one political reason for this. But before I identify them, permit me to note some of the economic facts of life in California. Unless otherwise noted, the following data have been culled by Chapman University professor Joel Kotkin, and published in the Wall Street Journal, the Orange County Register, and elsewhere. (For the record, Kotkin is a self-described “Truman Democrat” who voted for California’s Democratic governor, Jerry Brown.)
- In the last 20 years, about 4 million more people have left California than came in from other states. Most of those leaving are young families.
- In the last 15 years, one-third of California’s industrial employment base has disappeared. That’s 600,000 jobs.
- California has the 48th-worst business tax climate. (The Tax Foundation)
- California’s electricity prices are 50 percent higher than the national average.
- Middle-class workers — those who earn more than $48,000 — pay a top income tax rate of 9.3 percent. That’s higher than what millionaires pay in 47 other states.
- California’s unemployment rate is the fourth-highest in the nation.
- From 2010 to 2013, California produced fewer than 8,000 jobs — less than 2 percent of the 510,000 jobs created nationwide, even though about 12 percent of Americans live in California.
- California faces enormous underfunded public-employee pension obligations. (Bloomberg)
- An estimated 25 billion barrels of oil are sitting untapped in the Monterey and Bakersfield shale deposits. California is therefore sending billions of dollars to Texas, Canada, and elsewhere to buy natural gas and oil that it could have produced itself.
- Twitter, Adobe, eBay, and Oracle, among other major California tech companies, have moved many operations to Salt Lake City.
- Hollywood is doing more and more of its filming in Louisiana, Canada, and elsewhere outside of California in order to avoid California taxes.
- Toyota just announced that it is moving its U.S. headquarters, with about 3,000 generally high-wage jobs, from Los Angeles to Dallas.
- Occidental Petroleum recently announced that it is moving its headquarters from Los Angeles to Houston.
- Until relatively recently, five of the country’s top ten energy firms — ARCO, Getty Oil, Union Oil, Occidental, and Chevron — were based in California. Today, only Chevron remains, and it is gradually relocating to Houston. (Reuters)
- Houston has 9 million square feet of new office construction. Los Angeles has 1 million.
- Tesla will likely locate its proposed $5 billion battery factory, which will employ more than 6,500 people, in Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, or Texas. According to greentechmedia.com, California “didn’t make the short list because of the potential for regulatory and environmental delays.”
- California’s Monterey Shale offers a potential employment bonanza for workers needing access to entry-level jobs in the high-paying energy sector. But California’s green lobby is striving to deny them that opportunity. (John Husing, chief economist of the Inland Empire Economic Partnership, Los Angeles Daily News)
Now back to our riddle. Why do these state-crushing economic statistics — nearly every one of which is the result of left-wing policies — have no effect on California’s Democrats, the Los Angeles Times editorial page, New York Times economics columnist Paul Krugman, or almost anyone else on the left?
The answer is that they don’t care. Yes, of course, as individuals with a heart, most people, right and left, care about people losing their jobs. But in terms of what matters to the Left and the policies they pursue, they don’t care. The Left and the political party it controls do not care if their policies force companies to leave the state (or the country). They don’t care about the coming high inflation caused by quantitative easing (printing money) — Krugman calls it “The Inflation Obsession” — or the job-depressing effects of high taxes, or energy prices that hurt the middle class, or compelling businesses to leave.
They don’t care because the Left is not interested in prosperity; the Left is interested in inequality and in the environment. Furthermore, the worse the economic situation, the more voters are likely to vote for Democrats. The worse the economic situation, the greater the number of people receiving government assistance; and the greater the number of people receiving government assistance, the greater the number of people who will vote for Democrats.
Therefore, both philosophically and politically, the Left has no reason to be troubled by bad economic news. And it isn’t. It is troubled by inequality and carbon emissions.
— Dennis Prager is a nationally syndicated radio talk-show host and columnist. His most recent book is Still the Best Hope: Why the World Needs American Values to Triumph. He is the founder of Prager University and may be contacted at dennisprager.com.