Anti-business attitude hurting California

Thomas Sowell

If you wonder what has gotten California in such an economic mess, here is a recent sample: The state legislature has passed a law requiring landlords to give tenants 60 days’ notice, instead of 30 days, before evicting them.
In other words, if you are renting to a tenant who refuses to pay the rent, plays his music loud all night and makes himself a pain to all and sundry, he can give you the finger for two months before you can get rid of him — all courtesy of California politicians.
If you think federal safety regulations go beyond all reason, they are nothing compared to California safety regulations. Among states with their own workplace safety regulations, in addition to the federal ones, California prosecutes more employers than all the other states put together.
High taxes on California businesses and high workmen’s compensation costs are all part of the same anti-business mindset. Employees of these businesses do not get off scot free either. Other laws restricting the building of housing have given San Francisco the highest rents of any city in the country. Housing prices in the surrounding areas like Marin County and San Mateo County are sky high as well.
This means that people who work in such places in modestly paid jobs — including nurses, teachers and police officers — are usually forced to live far away and commute, spending three or four hours a day fighting congested highway traffic.
An insurance executive in Marin County said: “It probably costs us about $35 million a year in additional costs being based in Marin. Not a big percentage of our (5,600) employees live in Marin. They can’t afford to.”
The anti-business climate in San Francisco was a recurrent theme in interviews with local business leaders published in the Dec. 28 issue of the San Francisco Chronicle.
One executive said: “When you look at the Board of Supervisors and how they talk about business, you’d think we were the enemy.” Another said: “The city’s lost 60,000 jobs and yet many members of the Board (of Supervisors) are doing everything they can to prevent job growth.” He added: “The Board of Supervisors has to cut it out and start acting like adults.”
No they don’t. On the left coast, they can get elected and re-elected on anti-business rhetoric and anti-business policies. The same is true of the state legislators.
When the state budget is deep in the red, the state legislature’s answer is to raise tax rates. Not only do they not want to cut spending, it would never occur to them that moderate taxes paid by more businesses could bring in more revenue.
On the contrary, the exodus of businesses gives them just one more reason to raise tax rates some more on the remaining businesses, in order to make up the difference.
Massive bureaucratic red tape is also part of the anti-business package. The head of Sun Microsystems said: “There’s a million rules that make the cost of operating here just off the charts.”
The net result is that some businesses are moving to other states, taking their jobs and their taxes with them. Other businesses that are looking for a place to locate or expand know that in California they will be treated like chickens to be plucked.

Thomas Sowell writes for Creators Syndicate. His Web site is: www.tsowell.com